The Nazi protagonists of ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
The Nazi protagonists of ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
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‘You should never have invaded Poland!’: the best Nazis in the series are in ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’

SS Colonel Weber and the evil scientist Voller add special luster to the archaeologist’s latest adventure

Jacinto Antón

Despite all its déjà vu, which is a lot, and even though the archaeology starts with Harrison Ford’s body and face, I had a great time with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. You have to see how many Nazis there are! In that sense, we are back to the glory days of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Nazis: Indy has never had better enemies. We hate the Nazis (and more with what is coming), but what great value they are as villains: laugh at the Russians (even now), the Thugs, the Hovitos and not to mention French archaeologists (René Belloq). And, once again, if you add into the mix the occultism that some Nazis were so crazy about, it’s the best.

And in the new installment there are good Nazis, that is to say, the most evil ones. In the first film, we had Nazis digging in Egypt in search of the ark. They had a somewhat soft air. They were the Afrika Korps (fighting a clean war and all that), in shorts, under the command of Colonel Herman Dietrich (Wolf Kahler, who shone better when he played play SS General Sepp Dietrich, no less, in a sequel to the Dirty Dozen); for sure there was also a member of the Gestapo, Arnold Toht (actor Ronald Lacey), although he was somewhat childishly sadistic and at times comical. The second movie also featured a Nazi who was a bit tongue-in-cheek, this one a full SS officer, the Standartenführer (colonel) Ernst Vogel, who died when his tank fell off a cliff. The role was played by the Englishman (British actors famously love to play Nazis) Michael Bryne, who by the way had already worked with Harrison Ford in Force 10 from Navarone. He played the German Major Schroeder, whom the commandos use (even though he is dead) to pass checkpoints — a scene reminiscent of the kidnapping of General Heinrich Kreipe, Nazi garrison commander on the Greek island of Crete.

It is true that in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the worst Nazi was undoubtedly Hitler himself (Michael Sheard). But, in the same sequence in which Indy runs into the Führer and the latter signs an autograph instead of having him shot for not being cleanshaven, Himmler also appears (played by Lacey, the one who played Toht: now that’s promotion!). And the opportunistic, Nazi-loving Austrian Elsa Schneider should not be ruled out. But we had not seen Nazis as authentic, serious, and dangerous as those featured in the new installment. It is true that the story starts at the end of World War II and the Nazis are not goofing around. When they approached the Götterdämmerung they were in a worse mood. Those who appear in the opening sequence with the castle and the train are hardened and rabid Waffen SS. Lots of them. One imagines the director saying: ‘put in a few more Nazis, come on, let’s not skimp on the Nazis.’ But above all, their commander is the monkey, Standartenführer Weber, a solid guy if ever there was one, cut in the image of the “hero” of the Ardennes, Joachim Peiper (notice how he wears the cap). Weber is seen to have already done the worst things imaginable and wears the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and other decorations. One flaw, just to be cool, is that one of his men addresses him as “Oberst,” which is the equivalent rank to Standartenführer in the Wehrmacht: a mistake for which you could be sent with a panzerfaust (anti-tank weapon) to welcome the Russians.

Professor Voller, the Nazi scientist from ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.’
Professor Voller, the Nazi scientist from ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.’

Weber is played by a wonderful German actor, Thomas Kretschmann, a man with a proven track record in German officer roles. He was the long-suffering Lieutenant von Witzland in Stalingrad and Captain Hosenfeld who listens to Adrien Brody play in The Pianist. In Operation Valkyrie he played the historic Major Remer, who was instrumental in foiling the July 20 conspiracy against Hitler, and in Downfall he played the no less historical SS Colonel Hermann Fegelein, married to Eva Braun’s sister and whom Hitler had shot (you were not safe with Hitler even if you were an SS officer and his brother-in-law). Kretschmann even had a career in the Kriegsmarine, playing a German submarine captain in the film U-571. The actor has also played one of the great Nazi villains of the Marvel universe, Baron Strucker, leader of the terrorist organization Hydra and enemy of Fury, SHIELD, and the Avengers. That comic book world is not far off, by the way, from the new Indiana Jones movie: Indy fights with Weber and his SS like Captain America fought against Red Skull and his henchmen.

Kretschmann is the worst (best) Nazi Indy has ever faced and the truth is that Hitler sees him and puts him in charge of the Leibstandarte Division or the Totenkopf. In the movie he has set himself the task of looking for treasures and magical relics (he is a little late because Indiana says that Berlin has already fallen), and it would not surprise me to see that what he has to take to the boss and that Indy initially tries to get is nothing less than the Spear of Destiny, the weapon with which the centurion Longinus pierced the side of Christ on the cross and to which we dedicated an article in this same section (I a

Indiana Jones disguised as an SS captain at the start of the film.
Indiana Jones disguised as an SS captain at the start of the film.Lucasfilm Ltd. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

But we have not only one big Nazi bad guy in this installment, but two! The other is Jürgen Voller, aka Schmidt, a scientist with his own perverse agenda who is the one vying with Indiana for the film’s real macguffin, the dial of Archimides (the dial of destiny from the title). It looks like the Antikythera Mechanism, a real artifact recovered in the Aegean sea from the wreck of an ancient ship and which is said to be a real artifact apparently used for astronomical purposes. The object, which is credited with functioning as a calculator, can be seen in the Archaeological Museum of Athens (although I have seen it and the sculpture of Poseidon is more impressive). Voller doesn’t want the dial for anything good, of course. This is a Nazi of the dangerous scientist kind (“tomorrow belongs to us, Doctor Jones”). The film jumps from 1944 to 1969, and we find an aging, depressed Indiana on the verge of retiring (and we must admire the courage of Harrison Ford to go out shirtless), which does not stop him from slapping, riding, driving recklessly, facing whatever is thrown at him, which is a lot, and throwing a surreptitious look at his goddaughter (in fact, the first time he sees her, he asks her forgiveness just in case).

Voller reappears as a CIA collaborator as one of the Nazi scientists enlisted through the clandestine Operation Paperclip in the U.S. war effort during the Cold War. A Von Braun impersonator, come on, who dreams of re-establishing the Third Reich by even more far-fetched means than in The Boys from Brazil. To Voller, Indy delivers the film’s best retort: when he tells our hero in the middle of a fight that he should have stayed in New York, Indiana replies “and you shouldn’t have invaded Poland!” It’s also good when he snaps at him, “You’re German, don’t try to be funny.” The villain is played by another excellent, well-known actor who has played notable bad guys such as Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal series and Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, the Dane Mads Mikkelsen. For what matters to us here, and not to give away any (more) spoilers, Voller, dressed as SS Oberführer (senior colonel with the rank of general, Von Braun also had an SS rank), allows us to see another bunch of Totenkopf troops, these ones in sinister black, and a plane almost as rare as the Horten-style flying wing of the first installment: a mix of Heinkel He-111 and Dornier Do-17, which is going to give the internet chatterboxes a lot to talk about.

Indiana Jones has a Nazi Luger pistol aimed at him in a sequence from the new installment.
Indiana Jones has a Nazi Luger pistol aimed at him in a sequence from the new installment.

Almost as much to chat about was the authentic Luger that I took with me when I went to see at the Aribau Multicines in Barcelona on Wednesday, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, features many of those iconic Nazi army pistols. I wasn’t wearing mine so that I could lend a hand to Indy (who fights for one of them in a great scene) but because I had to run to a book launch by archaeologist Jordi Serrallonga: En busca del Dr. Jones (Desperta Ferro) at the nearby Altaïr bookstore. The movie plays with the character of Indy, of which Jordi is a big fan, to reflect on the profession of archaeologist. I was carrying the Luger in order to land an immediate blow and win over Serrallonga who, as big an Indy fan as I am, always carries surprising things with him, starting with the fedora hat, which he wears on his trips and digs. The truth is that the Luger made an impact, and even more so because I left it pointed towards the audience, which ensured that no one fell asleep; but then Jordi pulled out an object he was wearing wrapped in a T-shirt and which turned out to be a reproduction (I trust) of the famous Chachapoyan golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark...

And let’s end with another dialogue from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny that sums up everything we feel about this latest installment and the curtain that falls on the series:

— Sallah (Indy’s old Egyptian comrade, played again by John Rhys-Davies): I miss the desert, I miss the sea. And I miss waking up every morning thinking about what a wonderful adventure the new day will bring.

— Indiana Jones: Those days have...come and gone.

— Sallah: Maybe. Or maybe not.

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