Welcome Guest | Register | Login

Inglourious Basterds breathes new life into an overdone genre


Inglourious Basterds, the seventh film from Quentin Tarantino and his most provocative since Pulp Fiction has redefined a genre, which has been way overdone.

There is only so much you can say about World War II. Spielberg told two great stories that had World War II about covered in cinema.

Stephen Spielberg told the story in the darkest and most dramatic way in Schindler's List.  And, suffice it to say that's a good reason it's considered to be one of the top 10 movies ever made.

And, Spielberg followed it up five years later in 1998 with Saving Private Ryan, which had the most realistic war footage in any movie. So realistic that World War II vets were urged not to see it in public.

There have been countless movies on both the war and The Holocaust.

Inglourious Basterds takes a different route altogether and has breathed new life into the subject.

From the opening sequence of the movie, you are hooked into the story.  From the German side they have their "hunter" named Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and on the American side it's Lt. Aldo Raine, played by Brad Pitt.

Pitt plays the role with such conviction we forget to think about Brad Pitt the actor during the movie, which is hard to do with an actor of his iconic stature.  Aldo Raine, is a legend among the German forces.  He leads a group of Jewish-Americans named "The Basterds" who make it their sole job to hunt down Nazis and thereby incur as many Nazi casualties as humanly possible.

Raine tells his men from the get go that he wants 100 Nazi scalps or they'll "die trying." We learn early on that they don't really have to try. 

On one level this movie is epic.  It is beautifully shot and very authentic.  It takes place in France in the early 1940's, which was occupied by the Germans at the time.   It also features Tarantino's brand of unique dialogue, graphic violence, and black comedy.

The characters featured throughout the movie are colorful, sick, deadly, and fantastic.  What else would you expect in a Tarantino movie? Sgt. Donny Donowitz, the bat-wielding soldier, gives homage to Ted Williams in one scene as he performs his duty for Lt. Raine. 

The character of Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz will have you laughing your head off when you see how he's introduced in the movie.

Adolph HItler, Joseph Goebells, and Hermann Goerring are all featured throughout the movie and all become the centerpiece of the movie.

In one of the most intense scenes of the movie, a Jewish-French theatre-owner crosses paths with Colonel Hans Landa.  The theatre-owner becomes drawn into serving as the host of a Nazi movie premiere because the man who starred in the movie (and which the movie was about) wants to court the young lady. 

Landa interrogates the girl about her involvement with the theatre and how she came to own such a venture at such a young age.  In the opening scene of the movie, the girl escaped Landa and his cronies as they murdered her entire family. 

Inglourious Basterds never has a dull moment and if you're turned off by subtitles, fear not.  Tarantino's dialogue bursts through the language barrier on screen in such a way that the subtitles become an after-thought. 

We learn of Shoshanna Dreyfus' plot once her theatre becomes the site of the movie premiere.  And, the Basterds have their own plot in store.  What follows is about the most intense 40 minutes of cinema you'll see in quite some time.  In many ways this movie rivals No Country For Old Men with intensity. 

And, what will surely go down as one of Tarantino's wildest endings, you better hold onto your seatbelt because Basterds takes you on a ride that rivals The Steel Force roller coaster.

This movie is to The Holocaust genre what Dr. Strangelove was to the Nuclear Scare of the 1960's.  While it's counterpart was more topical because of the time it was made, Inglourious Basterds is a cinematic triumph.  Look for it to be one of the early favorites to get many Oscar Nominations.

* * * * stars out of a possible 4