The Nazi Boom

March 6th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

The Nazi film is a genre that has been around ever since the end of 30′s, even before the Second World War, and is re-emerging every ten years in it’s full glory. During the last 12 months we’ve been treated with a heavy load of Nazi films coming from Europe and US, but the trend seems to be dying again, just as suddenly as it was started. This weekend, Zombie Room is focusing on Nazi flicks as a genre. First, we take a brief look at some of the 2008 and 2009 films with the Nazi topic.

VALKYRIE

Let’s start out with a spoiler: Stauffenberg doesn’t kill Hitler.

In Valkyrie, we have the funny little chap Tom Cruise as a Nazi, bouncing around like a pirate with his eyepatch and one arm, portraying Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the ”Good Nazi” who tried (and failed) to assassinate Hitler. Valkyrie is a very serious, big-budget, star-ridden, English-language Hollywood Nazi war film that paints the picture of von Stauffenberg as a real American hero who’s willing to sacrifice everything for the good sake. Which is, to kill Hitler and end the war before the Allies would. The story has been filmed at least four times before Valkyrie, and this one completely fails to bring anything new to the table, other than the biggest budget of von Stauffenberg-films so far.

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS
A story of a friendship of two kids, produced by Disney. Doesn’t sound too exciting? What if the other one is the son of a Nazi officer who moves to the countryside with his family, and the other one is a Jew living in the nearby concentration camp? Adds an intriguing angle to it, doesn’t it? When the son of the officer starts to wonder the strange smell and the black smoke coming from the chimneys of the camp, the darker tones of the film start to creep in, and the end is really harsh stuff. The director Mark Herman succeeds in leading the audience to one, much more Disney-like direction, but suddenly turns the knobs up to eleven, dropping some serious jaws.

THE READER
The Reader is not a Nazi film by it’s looks, flashing only few Swastikas and no Nazi leather boots at all, but the story discusses the topic very extensively and with a nice angle to it. A young boy falls in love with an older woman in the post-war Germany, and later finds out the woman, played by Kate Winslet, had been a female officer in a concentration camp. The Reader’s biggest achievement doesn’t come from the story – which is good but doesn’t deliver in the end, but from the actors who do an amazing job, obviously led by the Oscar-winning role by Winslet as a MILF-like hot Hanna Schmitz, who’s falling slowly apart and fucking a young boy, played by David Kross, both physically and mentally. This one wasn’t half bad, and even had some hot sex scenes, which is something that’s lacking from almost every other Nazi film from last year, except…

DøD SNø (DEAD SNOW)
…where we have a sex scene in an outhouse, with a guy taking a dump in -20 degrees with a hot chick on top. Win.

For those who’ve been following Zombie Room, it’s not a big surprise that both of us, Essi and me, are huge Død Snø fans. We were treated with a private screening of the film last year in Os, Norway, where the producer showed up with a projector and played the film to a small, selected audience. I think I’ve never had so much fun in a film theater – we were constantly standing up, applauding, laughing out loud like maniacs and generally having fun like we would’ve had downed a 12-pack of beer.

Død Snø is about a group of teenagers coming on a winter holiday to an isolated cabin in the Norwegian mountains, and being suddenly attacked by a platoon of Nazi zombies. And that’s exactly what you get: a lot of gore, vile-looking Nazis zombies, bad jokes, motorsleds and a lot of great homage moments to old zombie classics. I’ve written a more comprehensive review of the film here, but to sum it up: one of the best films of 2008.

LES FEMMES DE L’OMBRE (FEMALE AGENTS)
Charlie’s Angels vs. The Nazis without hot chicks or the attitude, that’s what Female Agents is all about. Five French women commandos are being sent on a mission to save a British geologist from the hands of a Nazi officer who believes he’s linked to the preparations of the D-Day. Female Agents is a really tame action drama that smells like ”big, multi-national European production” for miles away – and it’s quite as sexy as EU. It’s not really pushing any front, even the Nazis are quite nice and polite, and although the bodycount is big, the film itself fails to build any interest to the stereotype characters. Boring. Only remarkable achievement here is the language – Female Agents mixes bravely French, German and English – the characters speak the language they are supposed to speak, which is not the case in any other film listed here, except – again – Død Snø :)

DEFIANCE
Russian James Bond killing Nazis in the forest. That’s all you need to know about Defiance – if that sounds good, then it’s propably a film you ought to see, but if you are looking for something more, then maybe go see The Reader. Defiance introduces a small group of Jews hiding in the Belarussian woods from the Nazis, lead by James Bond, who organize themselves as a partisan group and begin attacking the Nazis from their hideout. The group splits into two, where the brother of James Bond joins a red army partisan group where no women, kids or old people are allowed, and James Bond keeps up with his whiny-ass motley crew of no-fighters just trying to survive. The clash is inevitable, and guess who wins? The red army or James Bond?

Defiance is not a very good film, but it’s fun to watch if you happen to like war flicks. There’s definitively nothing new there, but some old tricks repeated/ripped in quite a nice fashion.

There’s also heaps of other Nazi films I haven’t yet seen, like Max Manus (Which, I hear, is very darn good), Miracle of St. Anna (Directed by Spike Lee!), Flammen & Citronen (with Mads Mikkelsen), and Die Welle (a film about a teacher who wants to teach his class how oppression & facism works by turning his class into a fanatic nazis, but things get out of hands… from the director of NaPolA!), but let’s not go deeper into them.

In the next entry tomorrow, we’ll start exploring the anatomy of a Nazi film, so stay tuned.

(Via Zombie Room.)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • MySpace
  • Tumblr
  • del.icio.us

4 Responses to “The Nazi Boom”

  1. Simone Bonechi says:

    Timo,
    thanks for your reviews. But, because I am italian and very proud about italian cinema of our past, I suggest you to see this movie:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kap%C3%B2

    Kapò was directed by the italian director Gillo Pontecorvo in 1959 and starred Susan Strasberg, the son of Lee Strasberg amongst the other…

    And if you want to know more about Gillo Pontecorvo…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillo_Pontecorvo

    A great production from the golden age of italian cinema.

    By the way, how things are going with “Iron Sky”? I am trying to do my best on wreckamovie.com, but during these times I am a little bit short of time…
    Since the time I sent you my CV for the UK cast, I have been starting planning a relocation in London because some job offers came along the way and I want to stay close to some friends of mine but I will find the time for “Iron Sky”.
    And if you will read my post, and comment, on wreckamovie, I will understand why…

    Have a great week end.

  2. Ich lese deinen Webblog nun doch schon eine ganze Weile aber irgendwie hab ich nie einen Kommentar zu deinen Posts geschrieben. Wollte jetzt aber endlich mal ein Lob aussprechen, sind richtig tolle Post welche du hier jedes mal veroeffentlichst. Ich hoffe es kommen noch viele weitere so tolle Posts.

  3. Moege euch Freude und Segen in dieser Weihnachtszeit begleiten. May every joy and blessing be yours this Christmas Day.

  4. L. Gallardo says:

    Moege euch Freude und Segen in dieser Weihnachtszeit begleiten. May every joy and blessing be yours this Christmas Day.