Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist war film, Inglourious Basterds, has one of the best cinematic endings of all time while the film holds up ten years later.
What I am sorry to report is that this is a film that could also take place in 2019. It’s not so much because of conditions in Europe but how things presently are in the United States. Much of today’s anti-Semitism is being enabled by the man presently holding office in the White House. And yet, Jewish Republicans are willing to look the other way and ignore anti-Semitism in their own party. Sorry for the frustrating anger but I’m writing after reading the news that this president has quoted someone who called him the King of Israel and Jewish people. If you excuse me, I’ll be writing this review from that context.
A lot has changed since Inglourious Basterds was released theatrically ten years ago. Anti-Semitism is worse than its been since the 1940s. Viewing this film now isn’t the same. Not when Jews are vulnerable.
This film has two major plots that converge during its epic climax. Yes, one of the best cinematic endings in history. I can’t stress enough just how much fun I had watching the ending in theaters. I had just as much fun rewatching the film this week. It wouldn’t be the last time that Tarantino would use a revisionist twist. Because Tarantino used up the revisionist twist ten years ago, Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood doesn’t quite hit with the same magic. He already used the twist here!
Most of the film takes place three years following the open. One plot, which takes its roots in the film’s opening, sees French Jewish cinema owner Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) seek to burn down the theater when all the Nazi leadership are inside. The second plot sees First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) with a team of Jewish American soldiers. What ties these two plots together isn’t just the converging climax but SS colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Landa was there when Shosanna escaped from French dairy farmer Perrier La Padite’s basement in 1941. Meanwhile, Landa is also hunting down Raine’s team–known as the Basterds–because their killing and cutting off Nazi scalps.
Shosanna informs projectionist Marcel of her plans to burn down Emmanuelle Mimieux with all the Nazis inside. Meanwhhile, British Royal Marine Lieutenant Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) is also planning an attack. His plan involves teaming up with the Basterds.
While Waltz won an Oscar for his role as Landa, it’s very hard to imagine anyone else but him in the role. Yet once upon a time, Tarantino wanted to have Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s a good thing that the filmmaker decided to replace him with Waltz instead. This is a role where you simply cannot imagine anyone else.
Tarantino makes some bold choices here. The film is ultra-violent as are most Tarantino films. On another level, Inglourious Basterds isn’t so much a Holocaust film in the traditional sense. It’s certainly a war film. We have good guys and bad guys. The good guys are…ultra-violent and crush heads with baseball bats. With some changes, you could literally drop this film into other moments of history. However, dropping the Bear Jew (Eli Roth) into another point of time just wouldn’t work.
At the end of the film, Raine carves a swastika into Landa’s forehead and professes it to be his “masterpiece.” If you ask me, Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s best film.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Quentin Tarantino
CAST: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Til Schweiger, and Mélanie Laurent