Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino’s take on the German occupation of France in the heat of WW2. This movie converges two key storylines, both involving the elimination of key Nazi officials. Allied officer Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) assembles a team of highly qualified Jewish soldiers known as the ‘Inglourious Basterds’ to covertly take out Nazi’s in and around France. When a unique opportunity arises, these soldiers join forces with German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) to bring down leaders of the Third Reich during the premiere of a patriotic German film in a small and secluded Paris theatre. At the same time, the owner of the theatre has plans of her own to eliminate the Nazi’s, after being forced to go through a traumatic experience during her childhood.
Inglourious Basterds is not your typical war film. There are no battle sequences between the allies and the axis powers and there is very little, if not any, references to the atrocities of the second world war. Instead this film is a self contained satire about a fictional assassination plot against the Nazi’s. I say that this film is a satire because there is an abundant use of follies, abuses and cliches to ridicule certain groups of people, such as the Nazi’s or the French or the US army etc. There are also very few lines of English spoken in this film which took me off guard at first (if you illegally torrented this movie make sure you at least have the appropriate subtitles downloaded as well lol). Inglourious Basterds is predominantly spoken in German and French. This was a bold decision to make from a production point of view because audiences are not always comfortable with reading off text from a screen. But this move actually played out brilliantly. The lack of English dialogue made this film more authentic to its source material and exquisite due to the intensity and authenticity of every foreign language line spoken by the cast.
The characters in this film were also really well written; some of Tarantino’s best. Every character in this movie had a defining aspect that made their presence on screen electrifying. Every character also had a memorable scene, which they made their own. The abundance of characters and the scenes which were made memorable makes this movie really memorable as a whole. The standout performance of this movie would have to be from Christoph Waltz. He plays a SS military officer who specializes in ‘hunting Jews’. This character is a man of many words, who uses his language in creative ways to submit his suspects into confessing their involvement in harboring Jews.
The narrative of this movie is quite similiar to ‘Kill Bill’ in that it is laid out in a series of chapters. However I felt that this film tied things together in a much more cohesive manner and that there was a logical sequence of events leading up to the finale. There were two scenes in particular that I found to be extremely satisfying to watch. I won’t spoil what’s in them or why they were so satisfying, but let’s see if the Tarantino fans can recognize them:
Inglourious Basterds is my favorite Tarantino movie. It is my favorite because there is not a dull or out of place scene. The film also makes a bold decision to have very few lines of English dialogue in it, which plays out spectacularly. In addition, the performances are stellar; from Brad Pitt to Christoph Waltz. Especially Christoph Waltz. Even if you strip off all of these elements from this movie, I can still point to the amazing filmwork and production value, in two scenes in particular, that demonstrate the depth of QT’s filmmaking capabilities. If I have one criticism of this movie, and I do, it would be the fact that the film drags a bit over the final 20 minutes or so. But this is insignificant compared to the other aspects of this film discussed in my review.