USA ׀ Germany
“My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I’m putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now, y’all might’ve heard rumours about the armada happening soon. Well, we’ll be leaving a little earlier. We’re gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we’re in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin’ guerrilla army, we’re gonna be doin’ one thing and one thing only… killin’ Nazis. Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I sure as hell didn’t come down from the goddamn Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a fuckin’ air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazis ain’t got no humanity. They’re the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin’, mass murderin’ maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That’s why any and every son of a bitch we find wearin’ a Nazi uniform, they’re gonna die.”
And so continues my adoration for Tarantino’s sheer love of films. The man’s a genius of entertainment, creating a world so believable in its intensity that one cannot turn one’s head away even when wanting to and there are times in this when one really wants to do just that. For Tarantino amps everything up in this World War II epic of violence, vengeance, romance and history to such a point of audience involvement that even when the film skirts perilously close to absurdity it does not matter.
With an almost tongue-in-cheek approach to his storytelling, Tarantino introduces us to the goings-on in German-occupied France. It’s a tense introduction that brings forth one of this decade’s most horrendous villains to appear on film. As Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) steps into the house of Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet) it is obvious that things are not safe and sound. Landa in the hands of Christoph Waltz is a silent maniac. For as he injects a calm charisma and seemingly nice demeanour into the presence of Landa, the silence that follows him is deafening and we know from the reactions of the characters on-screen with him that here is a man not to be annoyed. This is proven through the massacre which takes place and the ensuing chase after a fleeing girl from beneath the floorboards on which Landa was just standing. But she escapes and so truly begins the goings-on of Inglourious Basterds.
What follows is basically a cat-and-mouse ordeal as we meet the Basterds and then a rag-tag of professional soldiers and spies who fight, wine and dine with the enemy in the attempts to kill Hitler and his convoy of fellow murderers. Through convenience we enter a situation where the Germans’ love of propaganda film comes into play and so too does the simmering threat of violence so present in Tarantino’s films.
Its conclusion is a good one and the cast is splendid in getting us there – Pitt is hilarious; Laurent and Kruger in career-best form; Roth and Brühl really solid; Schweiger and, once again, Fassbender fantastic; and Waltz in the year’s best performance – but it’s Tarantino at the helm to whom this film truly belongs. He dares to go where few other current directors are and is in no way afraid to test the audience’s expectations, film knowledge and stomachs.
As Landa would say,
“That’s a bingo!”