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Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: War Running Time: 2 hrs. 33 min.

Release Date: August 21st, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Quentin Tarantino Actors: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Mike Myers, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Til Schweiger, Melanie Laurent, B.J. Novak, Samm Levine


ou haven’t seen war until you’ve seen it through the eyes of Quentin Tarantino.” The tagline for “Inglourious Basterds” is certainly fitting, as Tarantino’s take on the battles waged during World War II is definitely unlike anything ever before seen. Sadly, when he disrupts the events and ideas many know as being historically accurate, he adds yet another concept that works against the already arduous struggle for the suspension of disbelief. But it wouldn’t be Tarantino without these brazen storytelling techniques, and fans of his elaborate style of moviemaking will find plenty to love with the ample servings of clever dialogue, a spattering of brutal violence, and a revenge story built for a truly explosive conclusion.

Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France, young Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) witnesses the slaughter of her family by Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Narrowly escaping with her life, she plots her revenge several years later, when German war hero Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) takes a rapid interest in her and arranges an illustrious movie premiere at the theater she now runs. With the promise of every major Nazi officer in attendance, the event catches the attention of the “Basterds,” a group of Jewish-American guerilla soldiers led by the ruthless Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). As the relentless executioners advance, and the conspiring young girl’s plans are set in motion, their paths will cross for a fateful evening that will shake the very annals of history.

Tarantino’s style of filmmaking hasn’t changed much between his last few films; he has a fairly unique approach to storytelling that works well, so the repetition is forgivable. “Inglourious Basterds” is typical Tarantino: drawn out, musing, thought-provoking, and witty dialogue, an excessive attention to detail, chapter titles and flashing character name notifications, and a sarcastic, darkly humorous angle on over-the-top violence. “The Germans will be sickened by us!” yells fanatical, compassionless leader Raine. Some scenes noticeably drag, with beefed up dialogue that never quite bores, but the culmination of events, the crossing paths of characters, and the outrageous climax more than makes up for the extra time Tarantino has the audience seated in a theater chair. It’s unexpected, historically inaccurate, and no-holds-barred entertaining. And Christoph Waltz turns in an absolutely show-stealing performance as the calculating villain.

A slow-motion zap to the senses, with the Basterds turning the tables on history and the Nazis, Tarantino’s obvious love of manipulation and movies finds its way into this offbeat war picture – along with in-depth conversations on Linder vs. Chaplin, strudels, milk, and the expected racial remarks. He demonstrates his ability to toy with the audience through great musical selections, uneasy laughs to break up tension, a proficient arrangement of coincidences, and extreme anticipation. At times, the suspense is delightfully overbearing. Considering Tarantino’s sizable pop culture grasp on cinephiles and teenagers everywhere, it’s safe to assume that, for years to come, people will be misspelling “inglorious” and “bastards” and will be unable to accurately retell key events of World War II.

– The Massie Twins


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1 Comment

  1. Hi guys, great review. I just wntead to add my 2 cents to the mix. Hans Landa’s murder of the actress and quick change of loyalties made perfect sense to me. Landa struck me a Hannibal Lecter type of sociopath. Intelligent, resourceful and charming but below this veneer lurks a monster who takes great personal satisfaction in his job as the Jew Hunter and later his restraint totally cracks as he throttles the actress with his bare hands. You are right when you say Landa doesn’t specifically hate the Jews but I think he would be a killer even if he wasn’t a Nazi. As for the speed of his transformation, it is important to remember that the end of the movie takes place several years after the first scene. Landa is completely self-interested and he can see the writing on the wall that war is almost over and the Nazi’s will lose. Hitler mentions in the movie that the Allies have already landed in France so this takes sometime after the Normandy Invasion. Landa is just a rat fleeing a sinking ship. I do think this movie does have some interesting things to say and that it is not just a fun, violent revenge fantasy. Tarantino has a lot to say about the destructive and redemptive power of film in society. It is very interesting that the people fighting Hitler include a movie critic, a film actress, a cinema owner and a projectionist and that what kills most of the Nazis is the burning of old film. It is also fascinating to compare the Nazi audience reaction to the fictional German film “Pride of the Nation” to the audience reaction to Inglourious Basterds. I loved this film and think it is Tarantino’s best since Pulp Fiction. Keep up the good work.

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