Inglorious Basterds (2009) – Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino’s revisionist WWII film, Inglorious Basterds is the final recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film following my screening of The Dam Busters.

As always, his scripts and films attract some great talent, and this time around we have Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Til Schweiger , Diane Kruger, Eli Roth and Micheal Fassbender. Pitt is Lt. Aldo Raine, and leads a squad composed of Jewish soldiers who are looking at a once in a life time chance to take out the Nazi leadership, and it just so happens, a theatre owner, Shosanna (Laurent) has a plan of vengeance of her own, and both plans dovetail nicely, if bloodily.

As always, Tarantino’s script is sharp, humorous, and his violence is brutal.

For most members of the North American audience this was the introduction to Waltz, and he’s simply phenomenal, and sinister as Colonel Hans Landa, the villain of the piece, who proves how vicious and wicked he is in the film’s opening sequence – a wonderfully crafted tense scene, that slowly ratchets up the tension until it explodes in gunfire.

Raine’s introduction sets up a Dirty Dozen feel to the film as he recruits his men, and then the team sets out hunting down Nazis.

The film plays with hints of 70s exploitation cinema (even including a fun bit of narration by Samuel L. Jackson), while also being an incredibly entertaining World War II fiction.

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Each of the stories are perfectly balanced, and weaving together as Tarantino’s films always do, though, for my money, Laurent’s story, as Shosanna, and her talk about film tends to be my favourite.

Fleeing the outcome of the opening of the movie, we next see her in Paris, running a cinema, which has been selected by the German high command for a premiere of a Nazi film. She sees the chance to wreak her revenge and burn down the theatre, with the Nazis inside.

The Basterds with British agent Archie Hicox (Fassbender) tagging along, have a similar plan, and things are going to get messy, violent, and in typical Tarantino fashion, gets bloody.

Tarantino crafts some wonderfully tense scenes, and some of them become almost iconic, the opening, the pub scene, the finale, there are a lot of great moments in this film, and Tarantino doles them out with his usual panache and style.

This one didn’t wow me the fist time I saw it. I think I had been hoping for something a little more action oriented, obviously forgetting Tarantino’s forte, but on a repeated viewing, I grew increasingly taken by it.

As important as the dialogue in a Tarantino film is the music. Using music cues by Ennio Morricone, Elmer Bernstein, Lalo Schifrin, Ray Charles and David Bowie, the film is in both visual and audio terms, completely Quentin. His love, and knowledge of films, shots, music, and dialogue is on display here, and brings to life this entertaining take on the World War II action-thriller.

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