Inglourious Basterds

Writer/Director : Quentin Tarantino

Starring : Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurant, Eli Roth, Til Schweiger, Diane Kruger, Sylvester Groth, Julie Dreyfus, Martin Wattke, Daniel Bruhl, August Diehl and Mike Myers.

Fascinating dialogue, intriguing characters, slices of surrealism, gliding crane shots, ultra cool freeze frames, elements of surprise, rich in colour, quirky humour, appropriate flashbacks and a hip soundtrack… can only equal one thing when your at the cinema – a Quentin Tarantino film.

Two and half hours of utterly absorbing entertainment is what you receive for your money from a hugely anticipated film that has been in the works for over 8 years. Tarantino cleverly lifts, borrows and steals from the encyclopaedia of film within his mind, in particular from his two mentors – Sergio Leone (music score, extreme close ups, credits, character naming freeze frames) and Brain DePalma (empathetic characters, distinctive camera pans, sudden humour, character following crane shots).

Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France… The story begins in 1941 and ends in 1944 with the familiar ‘Chapters’ being used from his superior epic Kill Bill, to portray this World War 2 fictional action adventure. The ‘Basterds’ are a ruthless group of Jewish-American soldiers who murder Nazis in barbaric fashion and scalp them afterwards to leave their trademark known to Adolf Hitler (Wattke) and The Third Reich.

Running parallel to this, is the story of a French-Jewish girl (Laurent) who after escaping a massacre from Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (a fantastic showpiece for actor Waltz) and his men in the opening scene – which is arguably the best of the movie – she takes the opportunity for revenge years later as Hitler, Landa and co decide to visit her cinema for a premiere screening of a film which stars soldier turned ‘hero’ Fredrick Zoller (Bruhl).

Tarantino is having real fun with this, just like he did when he wrote and co-starred in From Dusk till Dawn (1996) and opts to use more humour than any of his other films. Pitt, Waltz, Roth, Wattke, Myers and Groth (who is perfect as Hitler’s right hand man Joseph Goebbels) would of had as much fun on set as the cast of a British Carry On film back in its prime.

So where does this rank among his films ? Better than his last effort Death Proof (2007) but it lacks the all round quality of his other movies. Apart from Reservoir Dogs (1992) and his best directorial effort Kill Bill Vol 1(2003), minutes could be cut from his films including this one. Particularly evident is the tendency to let some scenes go that little too long and you feel that perhaps if he used the theory of ‘less is more’ the finished product would be an even more superior film. However this is a minor issue, as Tarantino mesmerises, entertains and leaves you feeling completely refreshed, revitalised and reminiscing you’re favourite moments over and over again – the sign of a genius.

SUPERIOR SCENE : The opening sequence is a great piece of realism as opposed to being surreal. Perfectly shot with intensity, extremely well acted and has you completely engaged to the point that you’re telling yourself not to blink. Brilliant cinema.

QUALITY QUOTE : “What a tremendously hostile world that a rat must endure. Yet not only does he survive, he thrives. Because our little foe has an instinct for survival and preservation second to none… And that Monsieur is what a Jew shares with a rat.” Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz)

RATING : 4 / 5 stars.

© BRWC 2010.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

  • Owain Paciuszko 31st August 2009

    Just got back from watching this. Clearly Tarantino and his cast are having a ball here, but I feel that much like the ‘Ocean’s…’ sequels it doesn’t entirely rub off on the audience.

    There’s an awkward tone under-pinning the film, and I think Tarantino lacks the deftness of touch to weave together the disparate influences with quite as much skill as he perhaps has done before.

    It’s not an awful film, but neither is it a brilliant one, it’s a film of brilliant bits. Oddly the film is at it’s weakest when it’s poster-boy is on screen, Brad Pitt’s Aldo Rayne is a caricature but not a particularly charismatic one, his fellow Basterds fare better especially in the wonderfully tense and funny Basement Tavern sequence with Michael Fassbender.

    As most critics have pointed out Christoph Waltz steals the entire film, and all the praise he receives is utterly justified for his truly incredible turn as ‘The Jew Hunter’, his portrayl manages to juggle the elements of tension and dark humour that the film sometimes fumbles. Like Alan Rickman with Hans Gruber, Waltz has created a truly evil and odious yet, at times, oddly charismatic character. His scenes, particularly the opening sequence and a meal of strudel, are superlative cinema; subtle and tense in a masterful way which both cast and director deserve plaudits for.

    I did, as a whole, enjoy the film, but felt that it had a stronger start than end, and after the Basement Tavern scene went particularly wonky until its climax which was a little brief and lacked a true sense of finale, but also had some twists and turns true of the movie’s opening titlecard; ‘Once Upon a Time…’

  • Anonymous 31st August 2009

    A good film from QT, but I still think it’s his worse film, as it didn’t grab me. Same really.

  • Trevor Smith 2nd September 2009

    Thanks for the comments guys.. I agree with you Owain that the opening & strudel scenes are fantastic cinema – those are the 2 that stood out for me.. And Pitt’s character was a weak point i thought too – it worked better for the Cohen Brothers in Burn After Reading… You talk of the basement scene – after the shootout, i dont know why he kept that German kid alive for that ‘talk through’ with Pitt, he should of just cut that and made it more concise..

    He is a mentor of mine though, so i dont like to pick too many holes in his movies ! …But even Jackie Brown was superior to this in terms of all round quality.

    I gave it 4 stars because Tarantino still magically engaged me for an entire 2 and half hours despite it being weaker than his other films.

  • JOCK 2nd September 2009

    “slices of surrealism,”
    Could you explian?
    I didne see any slices

  • Trevor Smith 3rd September 2009

    Okay Jock here goes..

    It started with the Kill Bill Saga and continued into Death Proof and now into Basterds… What i mean is his movies have become borderline between reality and obvious fiction. When your watching his films now, it’s like you know your watchin a movie rather than watchin slices of real life..

    For me, the Brad Pitt character was very unrealistic, not to mention it’s just a completely fictitious story – especially the second half of the film, which makes the viewer feel like he’s on that borderline of real life sliding into a fantasy world.. However – i’m not suggesting this is a flaw, it’s his engaging style done with flair but i loved it more in the Kill Bill saga.

  • Sledge 4th September 2009

    Good comments there from Owain and Trev there.
    What does the future hold for both QT and his new find, Christoph Waltz?

  • Trevor Smith 7th September 2009

    It’s two more remakes for QT i believe – from the 60’s, with one of them being a martial arts flick – Come Drink with Me and the other called Faster Pussycat Kill Kill! which is about 3 psychotic strippers ! And one of the them is rumoured to be Britney Spears ! …I also know he signed the rights to two more Elmore Leonard novels quite some time ago.

    As for Waltz, we’ll have to wait and see !

  • Sledge 7th September 2009

    I think we haven’t had the beat from Quentin yet, nor the worst. I feel he has a few more rabbits in his hat…


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