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Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino takes his time. Since his debut film, Reservoir Dogs in 1992, the man has directed a total of six movies – that’s six movies across almost two decades – and working at such a pace creates an understandable level of anticipation within the audience. Each Tarantino movie is an event, something we’ve been waiting on for years, with each film riding a wave of hype and expectation all the way to the cinema screen. This is especially true of Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino’s ten year in the making war epic. Assailed by rumours for a decade, the audience were expecting a Dirty Dozen inspired World War 2 bloodbath – Kill Bill in Nazi occupied France basically – but Tarantino surprisingly went in another direction, creating something subtle, more focused on language than violence. Inglourious Basterds may not be quite what the audience were waiting for, yet it somehow manages to surpass all expectations anyway.inglourious basterdsThe film, set in the tail-end of World War 2, follows a group of Jewish-American troops lead by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), who have been dropped into France with the sole purpose of killing Nazis. Teaming up with the British Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) and the beautiful German actress-turned double agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), the group hatch a plan to take down the Nazis once and for all, during an illustrious film screening of Nation’s Pride, a propaganda flick being shown to the German high command in a small Parisian cinema. Meanwhile, the cinema’s owner, Shoshanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) has a similar plot of her own. After witnessing her family’s murder at the hands of SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christopher Waltz), Shoshanna is determined for retribution, and using Nation’s Pride’s infatuated star Frederick Zoller (Daniel Brühl) – a boy with links to the Goebbels himself – may allow her to finally achieve her bloody revenge. The audience watch as the two tense plots intertwine and build to a stunning, explosive climax.inglourious basterdsIt could be argued that Inglourious Basterds does nothing Tarantino hasn’t done before, and certainly it contains all of his standard trademarks – long, pop-culture laden dialogue exchanges punctuated by short punches of violence; the anachronistic soundtrack (David Bowe’s ‘Putting out Fire,’ used fantastically to build tension whilst at the same time being thematically relevant) and of course the references to other genres and filmmakers. But this all still works. Tarantino directs with such passion and energy it’s impossible not to be swept into his world, and he remains one of the only truly post-modernist directors working today. Instead of referencing war films however, Tarantino gives us a love-letter to Sergio Leone – the film opens with ‘Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France,’ a nod to Once upon a time in the West, and Basterds as a whole is essentially a spaghetti western, with all the trademarks of that genre – revenge plots, lush sunny vistas, extreme close ups, sudden blasts of gunfire, rousing Morricone -esq scores and plenty of dust and grit. Tarantino uses the mythology of World War 2 as opposed to its reality and creates a gun-slinging world which mirrors the wild west of Leone’s universe. It’s all heavily stylised yes, but that’s part of the appeal.tarantino warInglourious Basterds also constantly subverts audience expectations. For example, Stiglitz, one of the Basterds, is introduced in a way which is never repeated for anyone else. Important characters are set up only to be quickly killed off, and the film has a strange duel-narrative which is structurally very unusual. As mentioned, the audience expected a Dirty Dozen style romp with the Basterds touring France leaving a trail of bodies behind them, and fair enough, this was exactly how the film was advertised in trailers. However, the Basterds themselves are not even in the film that much and the promised bloodbath never really occurs – instead Tarantino gives us a mostly espionage-based foreign film built on long, tense dialogue exchanges, in which a cultural slip or accent twitch is just as deadly as a bullet. The film is more about conversation than action and it’s impressive to see a Western director shoot the majority of his movie in French and German with English subtitles. Tarantino also changes history to suit his movie, subverting the idea that the audience always knows how a historical drama will play out – the film is more war folklore than fact. Tarantino twists expectations and actually creates a movie far better than his audience could have imagined.Film Title: Inglourious BasterdsAll of this is helped, of course, by the film’s fantastic team of ensemble actors. Brad Pitt seems to be having the time of his life as Aldo Raine, with a typically American no-nonsense attitude which is hilarious to watch – it’s nice to see Pitt in a comic role, especially when he shines so brightly in it. Kruger comes across as tough and spunky – inspiring thoughts of an early Ingrid Bergman – and Fassbender does a brilliantly British performance which conjures images of James Bond. Laurent is amazing as Shoshanna, strong and sexy, she manages to say a lot without any dialogue – the majority of her acting is done with her eyes, not unlike a silent movie star. Stealing the show, however, is Christopher Waltz as Hans Landa. The character stands as one of the greatest cinematic villains in years, complex and dangerous and a true embodiment of evil. Waltz manages to be charming, terrifying and funny – often all at the same time – and it’s no wonder he won an Oscar for the role. The only weak link is Eli Roth, who acts about as well as he directs, and seems to only be in the movie because he’s a friend of the director.ing4Inglourious Basterds, then, was well worth the wait. Tarantino proves he’s still got it buy crafting a complex, tense war movie with delivers on every front. It’s a passionate film about film; a perfect post-modern mashing of the spaghetti western with foreign cinema, and the entire movie exists to subvert the audience’s standard expectations. Funny, exciting and very well written, this is highly recommended. The best war movie to come out in years.



5 thoughts on “Inglourious Basterds

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