Archive for the ‘Nazis’ Category

About Nazis, Hitler and the Third Reich.

The Anatomy of a Nazi film.

March 8th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

There are certain regulations you need to take in consideration when thinking about making a Nazi film. Just heed these instructions, and you’ll be holding an Oscar in your hands in no time!

swastikaSwastika Flag
Swastika (the tilted one) is definitively the most effective symbol of the 20th century, and sells DVDs almost like helicopters and explosions in the front cover. You just can’t do a Nazi film without it. How about a closeup shot of a red canvas fluttering slowly in the wind, then slowly tilting up to reveal the white circle, and eventually the swastika in the middle? At least two films last year opened with the exactly same shot (Valkyrie and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas). A filmmaker should be aware of the fact that this is the ultimate Nazi film cliché you won’t be able to avoid, and most likely any new use of it you think you can come up with has already been seen a thousand times. So don’t worry too much about it, just get it out there – the people will love it anyway. Just remember not to overuse it, there’s still hundreds of Nazi films coming up, so we can’t ruin the effect from them, now can we?

Black Leather Boots
What is a Nazi without the boots? You know, the shiny, tall boots that bang rhythmically on the wooden floor when the main evil officer is introduced for the first time? Not to mention the endless rows of marching boots, or the tip of the boot that crushes the filter-less cigarette into the asphalt of the airfield. The boots are just as important as the cowboy boots in a western, or the high heels in a good fetish porno film, and everybody knows what they look like, so you can’t get away with something that’s quite close. The boots of a Nazi officer are a sexual symbol of power, strength and manly ego, just like a male erection to a porno film, so pay a lot of attention to the shoes you pick.

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Uniforms
A common misconception of the Nazi uniforms is that they were designed by Hugo Boss – they were not. Hugo Boss factory did produce, with the kind help of the forced labor, the black SS uniforms & some other models, but the original designs were done by SS-Oberführer Prof. Dr. Karl Diebitsch and graphic designer Walter Heck. Another common misconception of the original Nazi uniforms is that they actually look cool and sexy -they don’t. One of the biggest reasons are the colours – we are used to the gray or black uniforms on the soldiers, but a big let-down for me was the fact that the uniforms were actually mostly darkish green – a colour I hate anyway (always when I try to buy something in gray or black, I only find it in this color, dunno why) – or some other stupid shit like brown, yellow or even had a pink collar in some cases. So be careful when picking your Nazi troops – SS is the best and most certain pick, since they had the all-black uniforms that go well with the black boots and the red Swastika armband. They even had a frigging dagger and a skull on their hat, which reminds me of this little comedy piece I found from the Internets:

The Colours
To continue on the topic of colors – A good Nazi film is known from it’s palette: washed-out brown, green and gray. There needs to be some kind of a plug-in for After Effects called Nazificator that just desaturates everything by 35% (except red, which it boosts 50%), and it’s one of the basic tools introduced to the young film students in the film schools. I haven’t been into any, so I wouldn’t know.

Tom Cruise, the funny little chap with an eye patch, presenting here the color palette of a good Nazi film.

Fatzi – The Mandatory Fat Nazi
Remember Hermann Göring, the fat fuck who killed himself in the jail just before he would’ve been hanged. He was the manifestation of all the Nazi decadency – a debauchee who loved orgies, wore an all-white uniform, and was terribly intelligent in the worst possible manner. Fatzi is one of the mandatory characters that just need to be in any self-respecting Nazi film, maybe introduced in a dinner scene with a lot of close-ups of his greasy lips, laughing and sweating like a pig. He’s a wonderful character, one you can dump all of the darkest clichés on, and get away with.

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The Language
Now here’s a tricky issue. You know, the Nazis used to speak German, which was also played quite an important role during their regime. But as we know, the Americans hate to read, so you can’t just put the Nazis speaking their original language in a film (you’d have to – god forbid! – use subtitles) and expect it to sell in the English-speaking world. So you either need to come up with a “clever” solution or accept the sales losses – and we know which option the producer or the studio usually picks. This means that we, the Europeans, need to suffer either the American-English, or even worse, the fake German accents that portrays their language. But if you go with the German language, you’ll find another surprising problem quite soon: German is actually a very delicate, beautiful and soft language – quite unlike the stereotypical “jawohl Horst ich komme” -porn-German that’s stuck somewhere in the back of our heads when we think about the Nazi lingo. So whatever you pick, you’re doomed anyway.

Controversial Theme
Nazis are bad, we know that, thanks to the hundreds and hundreds of films and books that have been banging this into our heads for half a century now – and there’s nobody disagreeing with it. But today, the trick about doing a Nazi film is to have a story with an angle to it. Maybe it’s about a good nazi, or about kids in the Nazi era, or claiming that Hitler was actually a human being . When creating a story for your Nazi film that’ll meet the needs of the oh-so-jaded and critical modern audience, the best way is to pick a theme from any family/general audience film, like kids, or love, or friendship, and just change the characters – or one character – into Nazis – and boom, you have an Oscar nominee in the making.

The Jew brat and the Nazi brat in The Boy in the Striped Pyjama

Hitler
Hitler is a major don’t in any good Nazi flick – although exception proves the rule. We’ve had Robert Carlyle, Ian McKellen and Liam Neeson playing Hitler, among hundreds of others, but when Bruno Ganz came out with his portrayal in Der Untergang in 2004, it was just like all the work by these hundreds of other great actors was made obsolete, and everything after that will be compared to Ganz’s role. So unless you know exactly what you are doing – which you don’t – forget Hitler. He’s the most interesting, the most well-known figure of our times, and you just can’t put some second-hand actor portraying him and put him going apeshit somewhere in the background.

Zombie Room will continue to explore the Nazi topic with one more entry, coming up tomorrow – the Top 10 Nazi Films! So stay tuned!

- Timo.

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.)

Natzional Socialismus in colours

February 17th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

LIFE magazine’s photo archives on 30′s Nazi Germany were opened recently, and a lot of very beautiful, yet scary, colour photos of the Nazi regime poured to the Internet. It’s scary, because we are used to see these mostly in black & white, but now that they are in color, it brings the whole subject much closer, and reminds that’s the atrocities of this era are just few decades away. I also admire the washed-out colors of the first color photos from that era a lot.

Nazis in color

Click here to see the full archive.

Here’s a tip: if you want to make these photos fun, just add “Who farted?” as caption to each of them, and they are instantly merry!

Berlin Diary #2: Getting drunk, getting laid.

February 7th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

berlinale1

So what’s all this fuzz about the film festivals, and why do we, the filmmakers, go there? Before going to the first bigger one, I had a pretty vague idea on what happens at the festivals – there are supposedly film theaters showing some films, and some kind of a competition with a red mat and dancing Aki Kaurismäki. So I was kinda shocked to find out the truth when I first visited Cannes in 2007 with Iron Sky.

The basic structure is quite like going to a bar and trying to get laid. You put your best effort to look good and rich and well-doing as possible, meet a lot of people, drink a lot, and end up in someone’s bed. Sometimes you produce a baby in about a year, but more often just end up shooting blanks.

Film festivals are swarming with filmmakers. We identified the regular filmmaker. A shortish, a bit tanned male with a short black hair, a 5-day uncut beard, nice looking, at early thirties, well dressed in a bit shaggy but charming way, carrying a huge bag filled with film magazines and a big-ass digital camera.

The coolest thing yesterday was definitively our paperboy, whose job is handing out free copies of Truth Today, a newspaper made for the promotion of Iron Sky with the community of WreckAMovie.Com. He’s a charming young fellow who really throws himself into the job, shouting aloud in front of the European Film Market building Martin-Gropius-Bau. It’s yet to be seen how the marketing works, and how it helps to spread the word of Iron Sky, but it’s a nice little test we shall continue in Cannes with Iron Sky team, if the experiences here in Berlin are good.

Today we are aiming to hit the Market, find a sales agent for Iron Sky, and then get invitations for the Norwegian party tonight. Dream on…


(Photo by Pauli Kopu.)

Ps. other people I know blogging and twitting about Berlin Film Festivals are:
Pauli Kopu
Pekka Oohlala
Todd from Twitch
Brian Chirls.

(Via ZombieRoom blog.)