— FameFlynet – (@FameFlynet) September 23, 2016
It’s not that surprising that Michael Bay’s “Transformers” film series could have offended someone. The Hollywood blockbuster franchise about space robots who moonlight as trucks and other more humdrum vehicles has been widely mocked the further it drifted away from its more lo-fi origins as a 1980s cartoon.
But the films keep coming — and onlookers keep getting annoyed. On Friday, pictures emerged from the set of the latest flick, “Transformers: The Last Knight,” slated for 2017. Printed in the Sun, a daily tabloid, they showed the marbled front portico of Blenheim Palace — an 18th-century mansion in Oxfordshire that is both Winston Churchill’s ancestral home and birthplace — festooned in Nazi swastikas banners.
The Sun billed it as “a Nazi invasion” of the hallowed home of the former British prime minister. “Actors dressed as storm troopers from the Fuhrer’s feared SS strutted up the entrance steps,” it reported.
British war veterans were called in to express their indignation: “I know its a film, but it’s symbolically disrespectful to Churchill. He will be turning in his grave,” Col. Richard Kemp, ex-commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told the Sun.
A spokesman for Veteran’s Association UK told the tabloid that World War II veterans “will be appalled by this.”
Churchill, as WorldViews itself discovered, is a sensitive subject for Britons, especially those with more nationalist or conservative beliefs. To them, the British Bulldog is a national icon, someone whose moral courage and patriotism guided Britain — indeed, the West — through the perils of the world’s deadliest conflict. How dare you give his stately 18th-century manse to Hitler?
Details about the plot of this Transformers film (which, one supposes, involves the Third Reich somehow) are scarce. Bay is not exactly an anti-colonial subversive, however, and he urged Britons to reserve judgment until the film comes out.
“There’s a thing I saw in the paper about Blenheim and I just want to say that people were not fortunate enough to read the script,” he told the BBC. “They don’t know that Churchill, in this movie, is a big hero and Churchill would be smiling about last night.”
This isn’t the first time that Nazi iconography in the context of a science-fiction production has created a stir. Last year, Amazon pulled planned ads in New York’s Times Square and subway system for its show “Man in the High Castle,” which depicts an alternate history where the Axis won World War II and occupied the United States.
“While we are all used to bad decisions by the MTA, this goes beyond anything we have come to expect from them,” Bronx assembly member Jeff Dinowitz said, referring to the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “The MTA could have allowed this show to be advertised without using such offensive insignias.”
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