This weekend, I watched a couple of foreign films. I realise that’s not a genre, but it seemed enough of a category to group them together in one post. The first was Iron Sky:
Iron Sky is the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen in quite a long time. Nazis escaped to the moon and live a 1940s cartoon lifestyle on the dark side, where they can’t be found. It’s not explained how, given all the 40s tech they still use, they managed to get there in the first place. Not least get up there unnoticed.
The president of the United States is a… okay. She’s Sarah Palin. She’s a no-nonsense Republican with a moose head on her wall, a snappy wardrobe of power-suits and an overriding sense of American privilege. She is also represented as Hitler in a scene dragged straight from Downfall.
The actual Hitler figure in this movie is Udo Kier, who I still struggle to see as anything but “king of the wampires”. He plays a completely irredeemable villain, as does his sex-starved successor, Götz Otto. The Führer is dead, long live the Führer!
Let me list a few of the silly things that happen in Iron Sky:
- An Alfred Einstein wannabe bleaches a black guy white
- Zeppelins in space
- A swastika-shaped HQ
- The president’s aid climbing on board a space ship dressed as Maleficant
- North Korea is laughed into silence during a UN meeting
This is a very silly movie, although the final scene struck a few realistic chords. Quote:
“Americans: You you all gave me your word!
UN: But you broke yours!
America: We always break ours. That’s just what we do!”
” [Found resource]
America: That’s ours.
America: Here me out. The moon is American soil. Moon flag: Stars and Stripes…”
So… yeah. Space Nazis and America-bashing. What more of a review do you need? Also, if anyone has Ms. Julia Dietze‘s phone number…
Next up, and made with a slightly more serious tone, was Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter).
Now, at the beginning of this movie you expect something like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. The shaky cam is shaky, there are woods and a premise for them having a camera (chasing bear poachers). We chase a shady-looking guy (a Norwegian comedian who I thought looked a little like Michael Gambon) and, twenty-minutes into the movie, during the first shaky-cam scare, we see a troll in full night vision. No hiding behind things or shaky cameras. He’s just… there. At first I was disappointed. Jon Landis has always said that he wished he’d shown less of the wolf in his seminal An American Werewolf in London.
That said, though, the tone of the film changes completely. Rather than a thing out to scare us with glimpses of poorly-shot monster, we’re now on what seems to be a real-life hunt. We are confronted by the troll-related bureaucrats trying to cover things up, and the cheerful Polish immigrants they employ to do so. The troll hunter is miserable and rebellious, while the film-makers go from cynical outsiders to his ignorant allies. The trolls are often quite cute, and look a lot like the traditional images of Norwegian folk law.
Particular highlights include shots of the beautiful Northern European landscape, the sometimes tear-jerkings stories of the troll hunter himself, and the sense that if you sing hymns loud enough in deepest, darkest Norway you might just get eaten.
The movie develops an intriguing back story, makes a few barbs at Norwegian administration and allows us to see that vampires aren’t the only ones who still have that Hollywood magic.
One depressing piece of news, that I don’t entirely understand, is that an American production company have bought the rights to remake it. Now, I’m not a movie snob, but I don’t see why it needs to be made. Troll hunter is perfectly watchable to an English-speaker. Sure, most of the dialogue is in Norwegian, but surely that adds to the authenticity of the “found footage” model? I will see the remake, if it ever happens, but I honestly don’t see it being better than this charming, heart-wrenching and beautifully shot original.