Inglourious Basterds



Genre:  Drama, war, suspense

Director:  Quentin Tarantino

Running Time:  152 mins

Budget:  $70 million

Released:  21 August 2009 (USA)

Plot: Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish soldiers known as the ‘Basterds’ spread fear throughout the Nazi ranks by scalping and brutally murdering German officers.  Meanwhile, a Jewish girl who runs a Cinema in France plans to take revenge on the Nazis who murdered her family and her plan crosses paths with that of the Basterds.


Quentin Tarantino’s film career seems to be somewhat hit and miss.  Half the time he manages to release some truly amazing films like Kill Bill Vol.1, but then he fucks up a brilliant story with Kill Bill Vol.2, a film that must have the most anti-climatic final battle, EVER.

I went into the cinema not knowing what to expect as I don’t watch film trailers or film write-ups as they ruin movies.  What I didn’t expect was the Spaghetti-Western-style treatment (though I probably should of) that Inglourious Basterds received.  It’s one of the things I didn’t like about the film.  It seems Tarantino wishes that he were living in the ’70s where exploitation films were at the ‘height’ of popularity, a film genre that he tries so hard to emulate.  With his latest release, he pays homage to several war films of the ’70s (specifically the Italian variants), by creating a Spaghetti-Western film, but set in Nazi-occupied France in the ’40s, something I’m sure only Tarantino could think up.  To me it seems that Tarantino doesn’t quite understand what an exploitation film is and as a result his films become this idea of what it should be, and the result is somewhat warped in my opinion.


The game being played in this scene actually looked pretty fun.

The film is filled with the usual crazy characters expected of Tarantino including; the all-American Lt. Aldo Raine (aka – The Apache), the menacingly evil Col. Hans Landa (aka – The Jew-Hunter), and Sgt. Donny Donowitz (aka – The Bear Jew) to name but a few.  The problem with this ‘spaghetti film’ is that most of it is filled with overly clever dialogue for extended periods of time, and while it is highly enjoyable to watch, I can’t help but wonder what Tarantino is trying to accomplish by this.  He attempts to emulate the films of old, but were you to watch them you’d find they were very different from anything Tarantino has released.  I also thought that the music wasn’t well suited for a film set during the World War II era, it worked well in Kill Bill, but not for Inglourious Basterds.

Inglourious Basterds uses a chapter-based style of storytelling, typical of Tarantino (see Pulp Fiction), in this case there are three sub-plots;

1) Lt. Aldo and his Basterds spreading fear throughout the Third Reich.

2) The German view of the tale, Col. Hans Landa’s attempt at thwarting the efforts of the Basterds & Pvt. Fredick Zoller’s (famous for gunning down 300 enemy soldiers) exploits.

3) And finally, the revenge angle (ever-present in Tarantino’s work), a young Jewish girl, Shosanna Dreyfus, aims to exact revenge on the Nazi’s for murdering her family.

Of course the three aforementioned subplots become interwoven, and it’s quite interesting to see how it all plays out in the end.  There are times where the film is quite exciting and suspense-filled, but let me warn you, don’t expect an all out action flick.  Inglourious Basterds is a long movie, filled mainly with long periods of dialogue, followed by an event (usually consisting of super-violence) and then more dialogue,  it’s one of the ‘Hallmark’ trademarks of Tarantino’s work and I’m sure die-hard fans will appreciate it (Death Proof used a similar technique), and on another note, I’d also like to mention that most of the film is sub-titled, something that I’m very glad for as I like German-speaking Germans and French-speaking French people, so if you’re one of those; “I don’t has to read” people, stay the fuck away.


Tarantino seated with the cast of Inglourious Basterds.

It also needs to be said, that if you have any knowledge of World War II, you may want to switch your brain off for the duration of the film.  Inglourious Basterds is a complete work of fiction, also note that it is not a remake of the 1978 film; Inglorious Bastards, so I assume Tarantino misspelled the title of his film to purposely remove the association to the other film.

I think that in Tarantino’s quest for ’70s pulp cinema emulation he has created something unique in itself, even if it wasn’t his intention.  The same could be said for most of his films, Inglourious Basterds included.This wasn’t a film I could rate immediately.  It’s not a bad movie, and at the same time it’s not a great one either.  After allowing the film to sink in, I reached the conclusion that Tarantino is incapable of deviating from what he knows, the fact that he’s created a Spaghetti-Western using World War II as a stage is testament to that, though I would have liked to see him direct a serious WWII epic, but of course that’d never happen as then the film wouldn’t be ‘Tarantino’.  Die hards will love it, and casual movie goers may find the premise interesting enough to warrant a trip to the cinema, otherwise wait for it to appear on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Score: 3/5