Quentin Tarrantino has never been known for subtlety, his films are more like having your ear chopped off and then your eyeball ripped out and crushed with bare feet. Ever since his directorial debut of Resevoir Dogs, Quentin Tarrantino has given the finger to cinema traditionalists and completely ignored any rules and guidelines of filmmaking creating his own unique cinema. Inglourious Basterds is in no way revolutionary to fans, but as with all his films, it’s a bloody good ride.
Inglourious Basterds is a totally fictional reimagining of World War II. Please, before you go on, and if you haven’t seen the film, please do not expect any semblance of historical accuracy, keeping in style, Tarrantino isn’t particularly concerned with reality. Inglourious Basterds plays out as a ‘what if’ type tale. We see different stories interweaving, an SS officer hell bent on executing Hitler’s orders for killing of Jews, a French cinema owner coerced into screening a Nazi propaganda film and ‘The Inglourious Basterds’ headed up by blackly comic Brad Pitt, who’s main goal is to hunt and kill Nazis. It’s a complex plot, but the film tracks each story until the ‘final act’ where we see how each story fits together.
As with any Tarrantino film, the depiction of violence is fairly high on the agenda. Not as over the top as Kill Bill, but still fairly integral to the story and in all honesty, there isn’t anything here which is particularly offensive (scalping is sort of a 6 on the violence scale isn’t it?) and once you can get past the violence (if it is an issue for you) what remains around it is a hugely enjoyable film which keeps you guessing until the last minute. I could be opening myself up to criticism by saying this, but considering Inglourious Basterds is a film set during World War II, exploring relationships between Nazis, civilians and the Jewish community, I laughed a lot. The black as night comedy gives Inglourious Basterds a palatable feel. I think had it been void of comedy, audiences would be unable to take it seriously. One particularly hysterical moment is Brad Pitt posing as an Italian filmmaker, trying to speak basic Italian in a thick deep South accent.
One note to make, is most of the film is subtitled. And always being one to embrace subtitles I didn’t mind this, I know it puts some off, but don’t let it get in the way of viewing Inglourious Basterds, the only one criticism I could make is the subtitles are coloured yellow. It’s sometimes difficult to read them as rather than added subtitles which appear in the black sections of the screen, these are overlayed on the scenes. I recall reviews at the time Inglourious was released was that why didn’t they just use actors from the countries of the characters they were portraying. This confuses me, as whilst the actors Tarrantino has used are all instantly recognisable, arguably more as English speaking in Hollywood films, they are all from their respective characters countries. It’s an utter nonsense that Inglourious Basterds has got ‘characters from Germany, but actually it’s an American doing a dodgy accent’. I simply cannot fault the cast in any way. Each character is rich and effective. Whilst character development and motivation may have been given less time and attention than they should have (maybe with the exception of Emmanuelle Mimieux) the casting and acting is brilliant. It’s almost like Tarrantino gives his actors permission to do what they like with their roles, to ham it up, camp it up, ramp it up, anything they want. And that tends to be the beauty of Tarrantino cinema. You end up with a basic story which is driven entirely by his vision and decorated with exceptional performances.
I might be biased, I have always loved Quentin Tarrantino films, he’s probably the king of MTV generation and kitsch filmmaking for our generation. He’s tapped into what people want to see, and he’s cool. He knows how to make something dull and drab into a rich and engaging story. For example, the plot of Reservoir Dogs is a bank heist gone wrong because there is an insider informing the police. That is literally it. But Reservoir Dogs still holds the same precedence in cinematic history, and I suspect Inglourious Basterds, whilst it has a big job on it’s hands trying to topple Dogs from the top, will be admired with the same respect as it’s predecessors.
- Inglourious Basterds (2009) (lwitfilm.wordpress.com)
- Inglourious Basterds (ibmonthlyswe.wordpress.com)
- Review: Inglourious Basterds (2009) (zuts.wordpress.com)
- Scene Description Spotlight: “Inglourious Basterds” (gointothestory.blcklst.com)