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We’ve seen a few splashes of concept art for Panzer 88, the film to be directed by Peter Briggs with Gary Kurtz producing and effects by WETA. It’s great-looking stuff, showing the intersection of detailed WWII recreation and what appears to be some supernatural element.

Now Peter Briggs is allowing more concept art out into the wild, and he’s talking about the film in much greater detail.

The script, by Aaron Mason and James Cowan, follows a five-man crew of a giant German King Tiger tank named Ilsa. The crew accidentally awakens something old and powerful that looks a hell of a lot like a Balrog in formidable armor.

io9 has a huge interview with the director, where he clears up a few points about the project (I’m snipping statements here and there, because the interview is quite packed with comments about the development):

…the backdrop is set against the German Army retreat through Russia.

the tank in Aaron and Jim’s script was the iconic Tiger 1.  Well, we needed a little more interior room, and a more formidable machine, because I wanted the audience to believe our protagonists could maybe — maybe — stand a chance against our creature, when others in the story have encountered it and perished.  So we decided on a King Tiger which came later, with its improved armor…Based on the choice of the King, we had to logistically move the story back to 1944, to explain its presence in the Russian retreat.

There’s no Nazi occult stuff in this movie.  This is about real soldiering…The Nazis in Hellboy and Raiders are comic book characters: in this movie, the Reich’s portrayed with absolute realism, as they would be in Das Boot.

People who have seen the creature assume it’s based somehow based on a Golem, but it’s not specifically.  There’s a little Jewish mythology in our creation, but it’s not grounded in any one actual story.  One of the German characters refers to it as a Golem at one point, but he’s just taking a shot in the dark.  Let’s just say it hails from a missing chapter of a story from a small Russian province.

And just in case you’ve harbored any suspicion that this film will play the Third Reich in a positive light, Briggs says,

At no point do we ever want to portray Nazis as sympathetic characters. National Socialism in Hitler’s Germany was an efficient and designed government, that rallied together a crushed nation. One of its drives was based on a despicable and evil program of genocide. That’s unconscionable. And in this story, it comes back around to bite the Reich firmly where it hurts.

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Check out the io9 interview for a lot more info and a few more pieces of concept art.

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