Review: Inglourious Basterds

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The 2009 Tarantino film about a group of Jewish-American soldiers off to ‘hunt’ Nazis in Nazi-occupied France succeeded to raise eyebrows, shock and add humor to a horrific tale. Quentin Tarantino worked on the script as early as 1998, but didn’t start production until 2006, as he decided to first direct the two-part series Kill Bill starring Uma Thurman. The director wanted to make his men-on-a-mission piece to add to classics like Dirty Dozen and Guns of Navarone. Tarantino eyed Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of Hans Landa, the Nazi detective who ‘hunted’ Jews in France, but later decided to have an older German actor play the part. That probably was the best decision made for this film, seeing as Austrian-born Christoph Waltz, who did play the part with immense accuracy, received his first Oscar nomination and win for Best Supporting Actor.

The editing and style is very similar to Kill Bill, with the story divided in chapters, the Western-sounding soundtrack and the awkward pauses in between to introduce a character. Except, of course, this is a film about Nazi occupation — which existed in real life. With this said, reactions seem to differ from critics who think there should be a moral obligation in making films out of the holocaust. But this is Tarantino, whose works depend on violence and gore to get a point across. I don’t think political correctness stands a chance.

What this film did show is a person’s innate inclination towards retaliation when inflicted with unbearable and unforgivable pain. Hatred can go unexpressed, or let out at the right moment. It is revenge, as always. As it was with Kill Bill‘s Beatrix Kiddo. In a time where there are no courts to prosecute and legally avenge a genocide, Tarantino chooses to offer an immediate and far more satisfying resolution to a story. It doesn’t mean it’s the way we should do it. It just states this is what happens, and what will most likely happen at a time like this. It shocks us into the reality of human nature, stripped down of its pretenses and ideals.

In the first scene (or chapter), I understood right away why Christoph Waltz won the Oscar. He plays SS Colonel Hans Landa, dubbed by the Americans as the ‘jew hunter’, as he goes from one French home to the next, rounding up Jewish families who might be in hiding. He thoroughly succeeded in playing a mad man with immense control. I loathed and felt for him at the same time.

If there’s one thing I found most amusing in this was Brad Pitt’s cartoonish portrayal of Lt. Aldo Raine. His misplaced accent in the film gave it a rather interesting texture. Nothing much to say about his acting though. I think he was completely overshadowed by Waltz, but then Pitt’s character didn’t allow him much opportunity to shine. I also found Mike Myers’ presence in this film very odd and couldn’t help seeing scenes from Austin Powers in my head.

A great spaghetti western-esque piece from Quentin Tarantino. Not his best, I still prefer Kill Bill, but worth having in your collection.

4 out of 5 stars

To watch the film online, click here.

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