Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France....INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

Aug 21, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Tight Plot full of Action and Intrigue.  Incredible performances.  Beautiful visuals, Excellent violence.

Cons:Well, they scalp Nazis on screen.  Is that a negative?

The Bottom Line: Tarantino proves he is a name to conjure with.  A glorious celebration of violence.  A great movie.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)  From the mind of Quentin Tarentino.

"My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I need me eight soldiers. We're gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. We're gonna be doing one thing and one thing only... killing Nazis. Members of nationalist socialist party conquered Europe through murder, torture, intimation, and terror. And that's exactly what we're gonna do to them. We will be cruel to the Germans and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, disfigured bodies their brothers we leave behind us and the Germans will not be able to help themselves from imagining the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, at our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the Germans will be sickened by us, the Germans will talk about us and the Germans will fear us. Nazis ain't got no humanity! They need to be destroyed. Each and every man under my command owns me one hundred Nazi scalps... and I want my scalps!"

And there you have the premise, nicely summed up.

The movie starts in a little French Dairy Farm.  Monsieur Pierre LaPadite (Denis Menochet) receives a visit by Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz).  In a nerve wrackingly pleasant visit, Landa performs his function, hunting Jews who are hiding in Nazi Occupied France.  And we see exactly why he was chosen for the job.  His technique is flawless, and the Dreyfuss family, hiding under the floorboards are discovered and slaughtered, all save one; Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) who escapes, or more likely is allowed to flee.

Later in the war, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) creates his elite task force; eight Jewish soldiers whose sole task is to terrorize the Nazis.  And they are good at their job.  One they call "The Bear Jew."  Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth) is famous for his use of a baseball bat on captured Nazi prisoners.  Another, Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) was not American, but German.  After killing 13 Nazi officers (usually with his bare hands) he was imprisoned, to be transported back to Berlin for trial.  But the Basterds instead recruited him.  And his natural talents were honed to perfection.

But the story takes a turn as Emmanuel Mimemeux (pay attention, Mélanie Laurent) the owner of a theater in Paris attracts the attention of a young German soldier Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl).  He is not only persistent, but he is well connected.  His adventures as a sniper in a bell tower killing almost three hundred allied troops, earns him a starring role in the movie about his exploits.  Zoller, well connected to Joseph Geobbels (Sylvester Groth) attempts to have the premiere of his movie moved to Emmanuelle's theater.  Considering the smaller setting means that only Germans will be allowed in, a plan evolves.  Many of the top Party officials will be at the premiere.  Wouldn't it be a tragedy if something went wrong?

The Analysis

One thing about Quentin; you never know which way he is going to take a movie.  He never lets things like history interfere with the story, and this one definitely counts as "This is how the war SHOULD have gone."

And while you can say that this is a war movie, it really boils down to three Characters; the Hero, the Nazi and the Girl.  Tarantino has a gift for purifying characters until they are larger than life, stopping just before (and very slightly before) they become parodies. 

Brad Pitt is the southern moon shiner with a dash of Apache blood, Aldo Raines (based on both the actor and WWII veteran Aldo Ray and a character from Rolling Thunder, Charles Rane played by William Devane.)  His lynching scar draws the eye, but is never explained.  He speaks in a drawling growl, irregardless of the language being spoken, choosing language both colourful and scatological, and is fond of carving swastikas into the people he leaves alive's foreheads.  They may be able to remove the uniform, but not that.  He is the sort of fellow you know wears Magnums.

Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus/Emmanuelle Mimemeux.  Sole survivor of Lansa's atrocity, she runs the Cinema with her lover Marcel (Jacky Ido) who is (gasp!) a Negro.  She is pursued by the cinemaphile Zoller, and intimidated by Col. Lansa, yet she is far from a victim.  Lansa compared Jews to rats.  He should remember rats turn when cornered.  This lovely young woman is charming, beautiful, and utterly captivating.  You are meant to fall in love with her.  It is easy to do.

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Lansa of the SS, AKA The Jew Hunter.  Waltz won Best actor at Cannes.  He earned it.  I would not be surprised if he won the Oscar for this performance.  Suave, gentile, corrupt, artistic, sadistic, and just a little weird, Lansa is a compelling character, and the actor brings him to vibrant life.   It is men like Lansa, gifted but damaged, who become the memorable monsters of history.  Waltz was incredible.

There were of course other great performances; Eli Roth as the Bear Jew; the gleam in his eye as he wielded his bat.  Roth has never looked more beautiful, or disturbing.  Julie Dreyfus as Sophie Fatale...oops, I mean Francesca Mondino, Goebbells' interpreter.  She gets the best collaborator roles.  And Til Schweiger gives great violence as Sgt Hugo Stiglitz.  He also seethes well.  And Martin Wuttke is one of the best Hitlers I have ever seen.

The movie has a rich vibrant feel (shot in 35mm) with colours that leap from the screen; particularly red, whether it be blood, the Nazi flag, or a dress.  And of course it has Tarantino's patented energy, the action rarely pausing, and interspersed mostly with intrigue.  Tarantino is a master of grabbing your attention by the testicles and catching you off guard.  Like I said earlier, you never know what is going to happen next.  Nor is the fact these are historical characters any sort of guarantee.  Quentin kills whom he pleases, and that is all there is to that.

This is a great movie.  It is fun, entertaining, and lively.  It will make you think.  And you will remember these Characters for years to come.  Don't wait to see this on video.  Go see it tonight.

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