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16 Feb 2012

A Finnish sci-fi comedy about Nazis invading Earth has become the most talked-about movie at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

Iron Sky is a B-movie spoof that has been screening at the festival's sidebar event, called Panorama.

The plot revolves around a group of Nazis who escape to the moon at the end of World War II to plan a new assault.

Interest in the film has raised eyebrows at the Berlin film gala, which is more used to heavyweight fare.

Last year A Separation - a compelling Iranian drama about the dissolution of a marriage - took home the festival's main prize, the Golden Bear.

The 2012 festival has seen the premiere of Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, a film about the Bosnian war.

Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt are said to be among the stars who have caught Iron Sky during the screening.

Iron Sky's plot is set in motion in 2018, when a Nazi soldier comes face to face with a US astronaut.

Added to the farce is a US President with more than a passing resemblance to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and a navy cruiser called the USS George W Bush.

Its appeal has been hailed by some members of the international press as a sign that Germans are now at peace with their Nazi past.

Yet local journalists are more cautious. "Although I heard that audiences were laughing out loud, in my screening... it wasn't like that," said Kerstin Sopke of the Associated Press.

"It's still a delicate subject here, and you have to be really careful how it's done. I was a little bit wary, but actually I think they did the comedy well.

"The inclusion of so much US satire when there is a presidential election campaign was also holding up a mirror to our time."

Iron Sky's production team have appropriated the conspiracy theory that the Nazis had an advanced UFO project during World War II.

However, its director Timo Vuorensola - whose last work was a Star Trek pastiche called Star Wreck - still describes the film as a "stupid joke".

Most of the funding for the £7m project was obtained after an online appeal to fans.

After successfully using the public to generate funding, its producers aim to launch a series of comics and licensed merchandise.

The Independent's Kaleem Aftab has praised Iron Sky, saluting its "over-the-top storytelling at its riotous and enjoyable best".

Yet The Guardian's Andrew Pulver called it "a giant damp squib" that was "not nearly as funny or cruel as its killer premise suggests".

London's Time Out magazine agreed with that assessment, calling it "a crude slapstick romp wholly lacking in charm, wit or excitement".

There is no doubt, though, that the film has whipped up an online buzz echoing that generated by another gaudy B-movie - 2006's Snakes on a Plane.


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