Once I knew the premise of this story I couldn’t wait until it came out. To my recollection it came out the year after Valkyrie and so I wasn’t sure which I wanted to see initially, I was hoping this movie to be reviewed higher since I’m not a huge Cruise fan. I ended up seeing neither in the cinema but bought both when they came out on DVD. Inglorious Basterds is a fantastic movie, far outshining Valkyrie in all lights. The story plays out in five chapters circling around a new story each chapter, where they all intertwine during chapter 5. The first chapter we get introduced to is so chilling that you forget it’s directed by Quentin Tarantino, which in my opinion, is for the better. I think that he knew how strong it was on its own that he didn’t have to over direct it. Although this is a work of fiction, you know that this scene is a very possible situation that could have taken place during WWII, and that alone sends chills up my spine. Personally I always was in awe of the power Hitler had over the German people during the Holocaust and WWII and I believe this movie, and particularly this scene, brings perfect sense into the question of how. Col. Hans Landa explains a simile between the Jew’s and rats. He says that if a rat walked into your room right now it would be met with hostility; and although you’re not sure why it’s probably because they are infested with disease. Similarly if a squirrel walked into your room it wouldn’t been seen as such a disgusting rodent, that although it looks a lot like a rat we view squirrels much differently than we would a rat. At that moment I knew exactly why Hitler chose the Jew’s to be part of the ‘unclean’; not only was he a very powerful talker, but he was able to persuade people with such contrived bull shit. Hitler could have chose any religion, race or ethnicity and made the people believe them to be unclean when compared directly to something that caused plague so many years ago for example. In that sense Hitler was a genius; Only he used this power for evil unfortunately.
Back to the movie however, Pitt’s character is so en pointe with the character Tarantino gave him. He’s in it for one reason, killing Nazi’s. Accomplishing that is an understatement. A team of 8 military men embark on this journey to bring back 100 Nazi scalps each. They ambush, kill, and dismember, leaving nobody behind unmarked by their meeting. Another chapter we meet the young Jewish girl, Shosanna Dreyfus, that we saw in the first Chapter, who owns a cinema in France. A German “war hero” takes quite a fancy to her and exclaims he wants to have his debut movie opening hosted in her theatre. This is where the stories start to intertwine, and it’s done quite beautifully on Tarantino’s part. Hitler is attending the premier and so the main goal of the Inglorious Basterds and Dreyfus are to kill him.
Chapter 3 takes place in a tavern with a German actress, Bridget von Hammersmark, who is an informant for the British military. This scene is a bit slow in relation to the other chapters, but it’s the end of it that creates such drama for the rest of the story. While the scene plays out, I suppose unless you are German, you don’t know what the kicker is until it gets explained later on. To know that that is all it takes to be sought out as a fake shows such power the enemy has. People around the world are informants every day of their lives, and I suppose the saying ‘know thy enemy’ comes into play here. They must understand every aspect of ones culture and immerse themselves in it or their lives are on the line. This isn’t a game, there are no do-over’s, they have one shot and if they blow it, their dead.
This movie for me was much more that a film about killing Nazi’s, it’s a film that makes me hopeful that something like the Holocaust will never happen again. It makes me almost understand what the United States and the UN did in Vietnam, Rwanda and now in the Middle East, just as an example. We didn’t help the Jews when we should have, we waited and too many lives were taken away because of it. I’m not saying that the final scene in this movie could of actually happened if we entered WWII sooner, however it could have saved lives, and I hope that that is what the United States and Canada will accomplish overseas right now. Young lives will be lost, and blood will be shed, but I hope our children wont have to read about another genocide in their textbooks. Tarantino puts a fun entertaining twist to the Holocaust, which I believe could have been done distastefully very easily, but he manages to create a wonderful movie leaving the audience quite satisfied in it’s outcome. Plus a cameo from Austin Powers isn’t so bad I suppose.
Col. Hans Landa: Monsieur LaPadite, to both your family and your cows I say: Bravo.