Iron Sky grudgingly featured at the Midnight Sun Film Festival

June 15, 2012 at 6:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I’m in Sodankylä at the Midnight Sun Film Festival, the only place where the Finnish cultural elite can be seen wearing rubber boots and rain coats. The programme (curated by Peter von Bagh) contains mostly of black and white art films nobody’s ever heard of. (And silent classics, of course.)

Even though I’m dissing the festival in this post, let me first say I love it! It’s a chance to see brilliant movies on actual film copies surrounded by hardcore movie buffs who’ve bothered to travel to Lapland just for this. When you’re watching a movie with some great actor you may soon notice that great actor is sitting next to you. You may end up dancing with legendary producers or standing in pancake line in the middle of the night with your favorite director. It’s a very democratic event in that sense, and full of great movies and conversations and lit by the wonderful midnight sun that one can only experience north of the Arctic Circle.

That said, they’re also very elitist about the films themselves. If they got to choose, the only Finnish films they’d show would be those by Aki Kaurismäki. But for some reason (I assume it has to do with grants), they also show all the Finnish feature-length fictions of the previous year. Which this time includes Iron Sky.

And boy, do they hate it!

In film festival catalogs, writers quickly learn how to praise even bad films so that they sound good. (And readers quickly learn how to interpret those texts.) For example, a film with an incomprehensible plot and shaky camerawork can be dreamlike and premiering bold visual techniques. Not exactly lying, just obfuscating the problems.

Even if you hated Iron Sky, you could easily say it has amazing visuals and lots of film references and that it’s a future cult classic, and the whole approach is fresh and interesting. But no! This is the most passive aggressive text I’ve ever seen in a film festival catalog.

Iron Sky is an interesting experiment. It has been marketed as a collective screenplay by the Facebook and Twitter generation. The plot was developed openly in virtual reality and anyone could influence it. Thus the digital and sci-fi film about Moon Nazis has been equipped with more or less successful jokes about Nazis.
The technology works and the action scenes are set up with a rumble familiar from the world of computer games. Nazi ideology, hostile to mankind, is condemned in passing.
Iron Sky fits those who are like a child at heart, and able to tell apart black from white, a good person from a bad one. It is also suitable for the devotees of the German language, sci-fi and metal music. The most impressive piece of acting is pulled off by Stephanie Paul playing the female President of the United States. The ghost of Sarah Palin haunts in the background…
The cinematic loan is a genuine clip from The Great Dictator: playing with a globe, Charles Chaplin / Hitler also reminds us of Nazism’s horrible past. (PS)

I think the editors must’ve removed all the swearwords from that description, because it sounds more like an angry rant than a description of a film. Not to mention how it makes little sense and has only a passing relationship to the truth of how this film was made.

When are they showing it? Oh, at 3:30am Saturday night, of course, to make sure even those who’d still want to watch the movie having read that, would have as little chance as possible of doing it.

Anyway, I’m off to hear Peter von Bagh interview Harriet Andersson for two hours. She was the star of many of Ingmar Bergman’s films (and his mistress of several years, which somehow always gets mentioned, as if that were one of her greatest achievements). I hope she doesn’t make the mistake of saying she liked Iron Sky…

Here’s the text:

And the same in Finnish:


  1. Mikki said,

    Yeah, gotta love the bullshit in there — sure, there was a lot of crowdsourcing done for Iron Sky, but the plot wasn’t “developed openly in virtual reality” (what does that even mean?) and “everybody” couldn’t influence it. See, when you put specific shit like that in a catalog, either you’re simply ignorant or you’re just lying, and neither option makes you look very good, regardless of the quality of the movie…

    But the actual reason I’m commenting here is the crack about computer games, which is pretty old hat now. When you bring that aspect up in a film review, it’s almost like starting a sentence with “now, I’m not a racist, but…” — you throw that in there, and you know you’re about to hear something racist. In this instance, you know you’re about to hear somebody demonstrate their ignorance; nobody who actually understands video games is likely to ever make that comparison, because it is very rarely even remotely accurate. It’s a dismissive shorthand used by people who really don’t know what they’re talking about, and they don’t seem to understand that what it really conveys is “I’m getting old, and becoming increasingly irrelevant, because I’m increasingly out of touch with the culture that surrounds me, and I’m too arrogant to even understand why that might be a problem.” The lack of self-awareness evident in this attitude is kind of pathetic.

  2. Teemu said,

    “Iron Sky fits those who are like a child at heart..” Sold, that’s me, take my money. I think Mikki’s right. If you don’t personally like the movie but on top of that can’t understand its popularity and object it you end up with arrogant drivel like this.

  3. Ally Quinn said,

    That’s pretty sad….wow…an “Oh-dark-thirty” (middle of the night) showing….sounds like the organizers are bitter that IRON SKY was the #1 movie in Finland for 3 weeks running…God forbid should a Finn have commercial success???

  4. Kahis said,

    Maybe it’s just a bad translation, but that review reads like something collectively written by the Facebook and Twitter generations without any editorial oversight.

  5. Esa Riihonen said,

    Strangely the the “fits those who are a like child at heart, and able to tell apart black from white, a good person from a bad one” seems to fit at least as well to all the Kaurismäki films I have seen – in Aki’s world anyone poor is good and everyone rich is a crook, can’t be hardly more black and white than that 😉

  6. Bienia said,

    Dear Mike, you have a good writing style. It is engaging to read and you keep your reader close to your thoughts. I miss that the links are not working (you have to right-click mouse and open in new tab what is inconvenient). Some tips on Finish avantgarde movies would have been great, as it evokes interest about hardcore hobbyists sharing artifacts only some people appreciate.

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