Notes From the Curator's Office:

The Iron Sky poster: Nazis return from the moon

Under an Iron Sky

(7/10) Anybody who regularly follows "From the Curator's Office" knows I'm a fan of Steampunk (See Steampunk Fun) and interested in the movement toward alternative ways of making films (See Home Movies). Recently I've stumbled across a motion picture project that seems to encompass both. Iron Sky is a Finnish/German production slated to debut in 2011 that features an invasion of Earth from Nazis who have spend the last 73 years hiding on the far side of the moon. Sound a little improbable? Let me give you the movie's official back story:

Towards the end of World War II the staff of SS officer Hans Kammler made a significant breakthrough in anti-gravity.

From a secret base built in the Antarctic, the first Nazi spaceships were launched in late '45 to found the military base Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) on the dark side of the Moon. This base was to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to take over the Earth once the time was right.

Now it's 2018, the Nazi invasion is on its way and the world is goose-stepping towards its doom.

The film is a being made by Energia Productions, Blind Spot Pictures and co-produced by 27 Films. Who are these guys? After all Finland hardly seems a hotbed of cinematic activity. Well, perhaps the most visible member of the group is Timo Vuorensola. Vuorensola is a Finnish director who has worked on commercials and music videos. About a decade ago he and group of friends started making fan films in a series entitled Star Wreck. Now, as many of your are aware a fan film can be a primitive as a couple kids with toy light sabers who borrow their Dad's video camera for an hour and upload the results to you tube. Or in can be a sophisticated as Star Trek: Phase II an operation that rivals, and in certain aspects - like special effects - surpasses the quality of the original series.

The Star Wreck films run the gamet. The first, made in 1999 is crudely animated and looks more like a 1970's video game than a movie. However, over time the group has produced seven films and the last, Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, was technically as slick as many professional productions, though the story - A Star Trek-like empire at war with a Babylon Five universe with lots of inside jokes- was still only something fans of these shows could really appreciate.

Shock troops line up for the invasion of Earth in 2018

Nazis in Space

Iron Sky, however, is a totally original story. Not that the idea of Nazis in space hasn't popped up in science fiction before. Robert Heinlein had a Nazi base on the moon in his 1947 book Rocket Ship Galileo. The original Star Trek TV series had an episode where an Earth scientist tries to introduce the economic efficiency of the Third Reich on a new planet without creating the Nazi atrocities, but fails miserably creating a situation the only Captain Kirk can straighten out. Even Star Wars has thinly veiled space Nazis in the form of the Empire's storm troopers.

Of course, the Nazis are the villains that everybody loves to hate. No other group garnered such an abhorrent, but well-deserved reputation and had so little in the way of redeeming characteristics. Films from Raiders of the Lost Ark to The Odessa File have cast this crowd as the bad guys. How is Iron Sky different?

What Iron Sky draws from in creating its story is set of fascinating legends, mythology and conspiracy theories that have grown up over the last half century, or so about the Nazis, secret weapons and UFOs.

We have several pages about German secret weapons programs here at the Museum including one that covers the idea that the Nazis built flying saucers (See Flying Saucers and the Third Reich). It seems likely that the Germans during World War II actually did do some experimentation with disc-shaped aircraft. After all, so did the Americans. The legend runs even deeper than that, however. Rudolf Lusar, a former German army technician, wrote a book in the 1950 entitled German Secret Weapons of World War II. Most of the book delt with acknowledged advances like the V-1 and V-2 missiles, but one chapter on "wonder weapons" suggested that the Nazis had actually tested a flying saucer shaped aircraft that could fly faster than the speed of sound. A feat that was not matched by the Americans until 1947.

Nazi supporter Ernst Zündel's book UFOs: Nazi Secret Weapons? added to this myth by suggesting Hitler might have escaped at the end of the war via U-boat to a secret base in Antarctica where German flying saucers operated. Zündel even tried to get money to outfit an expedition to the South Pole to find the entrance to the secret underground base (located in a hollow Earth), though his fund raising attempts looked more like a scam than a serious investigation.

Some people even speculate that the Nazi's, before the end of the war, discovered how to create anti-gravity fields and an endless source of power based on quantum vacuum zero point energy. Nick Cook, the aviation editor at Jane's Defense Weekly took this possibility seriously in his book The Hunt for Zero Point. (The Hans Kammler mentioned in the Iron Sky back story was a real person and figures prominently in Cook's research).

The Iron Sky script mines the conspirecy theories surrounding German UFO's from World War II. (Copyright Lee Krystek, 2008)

I'm rather skeptical of all of this, but the story of Nazi's building flying saucers, establishing secret bases in the Antarctic, and discovering anti-gravity I think is a fertile ground for a fictional adventure book or movie. I have to admit I even put together an outline for a book based on the idea of a secret Nazi empire developing powerful flying saucer weapons in preparation for a new assault on the United States, though I placed my Nazi stronghold in an underground location, rather than the far side of the moon like Iron Sky does.

Even though I put the book on the shelf in favor of finishing my juvenile novel Cardboard Submarine, I still have a soft spot for the idea of Nazis returning in flying saucers to threaten the free world anew. So I greatly look forward to see what Vuorensola and his henchmen will come up with.

A New Way of Making a Movie

What is interesting about Iron Sky isn't just the subject matter. Vuorensola and his compatriots have really gone about making this movie in a way totally unlike what you would get with a Hollywood production. When you visit the Iron Sky website ( there are ways you can actually participate in the production. The first is to register in a section called "They Demand Iron Sky." This is a Google Map where you can sign up to request any potential distributers of the film to release it in your local theater. You can also give the film more substantive support by buying "War Bonds." The war bond package isn't actually any kind of real bond (as the website clearly states lest they get sued) but a collection of promotional materials including a DVD of the trailer, documentaries about the production, etc. you pay 50,00€ for (about $62 USD). If you want to support the production to an even greater degree you can actually invest in the picture (minimum of 1,000 € - about $1,200 USD) with the possibility of actually getting your money back with a profit, if the film is a success.

For those of us not rich enough to invest in the picture, there are still ways of supporting it. Energia Productions has created This site is designed to allow collaboration on a film by people around the world. You join the site (wreckamovie supports multiple productions, but Iron Sky is where most of the action is currently) and the movie's producers put out certain tasks they need accomplished. This can be as simple as finding some pictures of interesting explosions that the graphic artists can use as inspirations for what the detonations in the film might look like or suggesting a good place for a fan party in some city the production crew is visiting.

The first trailer/teaser released by Energia.

Some of the tasks are much more substantial, however, and if you are a professional graphic artist, or animator you might be able to get to actually get on the payroll (though Vuorensola admits the money is not all that good, he points out you do get the pleasure of working with the Energia crew).

If you don't even make a commitment to wreckamovie, however, you can still help out by talking up the production to your friends and family. Energia has released some the concept art and teasers under a wiki license so that people can remix them and put their own spin on them. There are already a number of fan built teasers on YouTube. Heck I've even made my contribution here by forging some wallpaper background for computers.

The Teaser

Now admittedly to many people the idea of Nazis attacking from space sounds almost silly, but before you pass judgment on it take a look at the first trailer above (Energia has also released a second trailer, but I really don't think it is as effective at getting the ideas across as the first) The graphics, music (which sounds like something from a classic James Bond film) and atmosphere are impressive. Go ahead and run it. I'll wait right here.

Pretty good, huh? For those with a technical interest in the film, with the exception of the guy with motorcycle, the Nazi in the space suit who unfurls the Nazi flag on the moon, and a few small figures in the background, the entire sequence is CGI (Computer Generated Images). Oh, and what's that guy in the space suit saying when he gives the Nazi salute? It translates to "One small step for a man, one giant leap for the Fatherland."

Director Timo Vuorensola (center) meets with the Iron Sky art department.

Well, to my eyes it looks like a picture Id' really like to see. Of course, I've seen a hundred movies where the trailer or teaser looked fantastic and the actual film was a dud. The reason for this is that they get some guy who is wonderful at making trailers and he has the entire two hours of film to draw from in putting together something that lasts about two minutes. He's usually not the guy that actually directed or edited the real film but if he's good he can make the movie appear to be something appealing even if it is a stinker.

In this case, however, the guy who made the teaser is the same guy directing the film : Vuorensola. Vuorensola admits the none of the first teaser will probably make it into the movie. What he wanted to convey to the audience, however, was the feel of the picture. So I think there is some reason to hope that what we got in the teaser is what we will get in the final film.

Looking at the activity around this film on the Internet Movie Database ( I'm not the only one looking forward to this picture coming out. Some of the posters, however, are disturbed by the fact that Energia has billed this as a comedy. Most of the people I spoke to who are interested in the film are looking for an action adventure like The Rocketeer (1991) or Sky Captain the World of Tomorrow(2004). (For those of you not familiar with Sky Captain, it was a little under rated film by Kerry Conran set in an alternate history of about the 1930s. It was one of the first films produced entirely on a blue screen stage with CGI creating the highly stylized art deco sets. It reproduced a comic book world in much the same fashion as films like 300 (2006) and Sin City (2005) did it several years later).

Director Vuorensola, however, has said that the movie will not be a comedy in the tradition of something like a Mel Brooks film. And unlike Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning there will be some actual character development. What's more, to create the script they have been able to obtain the services of an award winning science fiction writer: Johanna Sinisalo. Hopefully writer and director will avoid the trap of giving us just CGI eye-candy instead of an engaging story with likeable characters. This kind of mistake of sacrificing one for the other, has too often shown up in too many Hollywood pictures in the last ten years.

Iron Sky Inspired Wall Paper

Also heavily involved in Iron Sky is Samuli Torssonen. Torssonen was the driving force behind the last Star Wreck film and was personally responsible for much of the CGI. On Iron Sky he's working as the Visual Effects Producer and hopefully his considerable skills at CGI direction will be combined seamlessly with Sinisalo's script. His bio on the Iron Sky website states "his passion is creating incredible visual effects and huge space battles, but he wants to see them in a story which people will not easily forget." Hopefully Iron Sky will be the right catalyst for that.

This summer (2010) I understand Iron Sky will start actual filming. The announced cast includes German actor Götz Otto as the "moon Führer." The beautiful blonde German actress Julia Dietze will be playing Renate Richter, a female Nazi agent sent to Earth to see if it is indeed ripe for conquest.

With a release slated for sometime in 2011 we shouldn't have to wait too long to see what Vuorensola and his comrades have come up with. Will it be a blockbuster hit, a dull exercise in CGI or a cult classic? It's my observation that audiences often seem somewhat cool to steampunk material, so a blockbuster seems a little too much to hope for. However, if Vuorensola and friends can break even monetarily on a cult classic that will be beloved by its fans - they will have achieved something they can be proud of.

Copyright Lee Krystek 2010. All Rights Reserved.


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