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Timo Vuorensola • Director of Iron Sky: The Coming Race

“Serious doesn’t suit my personality”

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- Cineuropa met up with Timo Vuorensola, the director of the long-delayed sequel to the 2012 Finnish cult phenomenon, Iron Sky: The Coming Race, on the day of its Finnish premiere

Timo Vuorensola  • Director of Iron Sky: The Coming Race
(© Tiia Öhman)

Loosely based on an 1871 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton and almost six years in the making, Iron Sky: The Coming Race [+see also:
trailer
interview: Timo Vuorensola
film profile
]
swaps the Nazi Moon base for a journey to the centre of the Earth. Set 20 years after the events of the first film, it sees Obi Washington (Lara Rossi), the daughter of Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), trying to save mankind by entering a secret world ruled by the reptilian Vril, led by Adolf Hitler. We chatted to the movie’s director, Timo Vuorensola, on the day of its Finnish premiere.

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Cineuropa: Last time we talked, you said you didn’t need Donald Trump in the film, because you already have Sarah Palin. And yet the tagline goes: “Let’s make Earth great again.”
Timo Vuorensola:
That was [Slovenian avant-garde band] Laibach’s idea! They just added that line to the opening song, and we decided to nick it for marketing purposes. The main story is that the lizard people have been living inside the Earth, and they accidentally created the human race, which then took over the world – and while they can’t fight them directly, they try to influence their politics, culture and history. We had a long list of potential candidates. I needed them to be instantly recognisable and to have a history of not treating other people too well – that’s how we ended up with Mark Zuckerberg, for example [laughs]. Also, our producer Tero Kaukomaa got to play our former president, Urho Kekkonen. He was in power for 30 years – so kind of like the Putin of Finland, but a much nicer guy. But Trump himself is not there. Oh, the times when we thought Sarah Palin as the American vice-president could be the craziest thing that could possibly happen.

You always saw Iron Sky [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Tero Kaukomaa
interview: Timo Vuorensola
interview: Timo Vuorensola
film profile
]
as a potential franchise. But now, post-Christopher Nolan and his Batman, franchises tend to take themselves very seriously, which is absolutely not the case here.
I do believe there is scope for a lighter approach. We have so many in-jokes in this film, even going back to the concept of a Star Trek “redshirt” – some guy in the red uniform, who is always the first one to die. I wanted to create a unique franchise and a unique world, something that would eventually make people go: “This is so Iron Sky.” I didn’t want to be too serious or too dramatic. It just doesn’t suit my personality.

With my writer, Dalan Musson, we tried to incorporate many things that we loved as kids. I was inspired by paleoart [artworks depicting prehistoric life] from the 1930s and 1940s – they had this slightly muted look, and the dinosaurs were very simple. That’s how I imagined them growing up. And also, whenever you talk about the concept of Hollow Earth, you’re talking about dinosaurs. They must be there, because where else would they go? I wanted to go back to the roots of science fiction, because that’s what it used to be all about: going under the ocean or into the centre of the Earth.

Udo Kier, who plays Hitler in the film, told me he was impressed with your ideas for crowdfunding, with fans paying to be eaten by a dinosaur on screen, for example. How do you see your relationship with this community evolving? Because The Coming Race, with its price tag of 20 million, is a whole different film to the first one.
I love our fans, but I never started out with the idea that I was making this film for them – or for anybody else, for that matter. That’s not how filmmakers work. We make films that we believe in. It’s hard to say how they are going to react, but I really wanted to go in a different direction this time. So yes, The Coming Race looks different, and it has a different feeling, and the storyline doesn’t even necessarily mirror the first part. So far, they have taken it quite well.

Do you feel that a budget this high was necessary? Your fans actually seemed to embrace all of the imperfections.
Personally, I don’t know much about B movies. I don’t know this world at all, and even though it makes sense, I just refuse to put my film in the same basket. And also, the minute I start to serve only this community, I’d get bored out of my skull, and they would be able to feel it as well. I want to try out other styles, and our upcoming Chinese spin-off [the Andy Garcia-starring The Ark – An Iron Sky Story] will also be very different. For sure, there will be those who just want to see more Moon Nazis. And maybe there is a chance for that to happen in the future, with someone else continuing this particular story. But for me, that part is done. Iron Sky is so much more than the Nazis; it’s an attitude.

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