Filmmaker Quentin Tarentino. You either love his work or hate his work. I for one, am always intrigued by his work. This World War II set film is perhaps one of his best films, thanks to a cast that pulls off some very intriguing and at time, funny performances.
Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, the title refers to eight Jewish-American soldiers who are led by Tennessee-born Lt. Aldo Raine, who has just one thing in mind: killing the Nazi regime. The Nazi regime are led by Adolf Hitler, but in France, the man who has been causing the havoc is SS Commander Hans Landa, who is nicknamed “The Hangman” for his brand style of execution.
Tarentino’s work has always been intriguing. His vast knowledge of various genres have inspired him to release some of the most interesting films Hollywood fans have seen. After the succcess of his Asian-cinema inspired KILL BILL series, Tarantino decided to explore World War II and yet bring a B-movie exploitation vibe to the project, as influenced by the 1978 Italian-U.S. made exploitive film The Inglorious Bastards, only replacing the diverse misfit soldiers with Jewish-American soldiers. Talk about a taste of vengeance.
Like some of his previous work, he splits the film into chapters, in this case five chapters. The focus of the story is not only the mission the titular “Basterds”, but a very intriguing plot involving a Jewish woman, Shoshanna, played by French actress Melanie Laurent. Shoshanna’s family were murdered by Landa and his regime and disguising herself as Emmanuelle, a movie theater owner, she becomes the object of affection by a Nazi soldier turned national hero and actor, Frederic Zoller and practically uses a film based on his life to hatch a plan to get revenge.
The cast seems like they are having a lot of fun when it comes to their roles. Brad Pitt without a doubt puts on a thick U.S. Southern accent and really tends to ham it up as “Basterds” leader Lt. Aldo Raine. However, the one performance that really stands out is that of German-born Christoph Waltz, who makes his Hollywood debut as SS Col. Hans Landa. Waltz brings a combination of charm and sadism in the role, slowly building and acting friendly towards the people he questions before ultimately getting his hands dirty.
German-born actress Diane Kruger brings a performance made for the likes of a Marlene Dietrich or even a Greta Garbo. Kruger plays Bridget Von Hammersmark, a popular German actress who becomes a “double agent” and helps the Basterds in the mission against the Nazis. Her opening scene is just riveting and somewhat reminiscent of classic 30’s Hollywood.
Like his previous Kill Bill, the film tends to “kick it up a notch” when it comes to violence and this film is wildly violent. Aside from machine guns going off, there are some very graphic scalpings (perhaps influenced from the William Lustig shocker Maniac and even Hostel director Eli Roth (playing one of the Basterds) knocking Nazis with a baseball bat while acting like he is an announcer for a baseball game. As for the climax, it really goes beyond wild yet intriguing at the same time.
Aside from Hitler, the “Reichminister of Propaganda” Joseph Goebbels, played by Sylvester Groth, is seen here as the director of the film that starred and is based on the life of Nazi war hero Frederic Zoller, “Del Stolz der Nation” (Nation’s Pride). Also appearing as a character is German actor Emil Jannings, played by Hilmar Eicchorn. Jannings’s most well-known film in the United States is the classic The Blue Angel, a German expressionist film that basically was the launch pad for Marlene Dietrich. An avid fan of film, Tarantino also makes a reference to B-movie helmer extraordinaire Antonio Marghereti, who is best known for the films Yor: The Hunter from the Future and The Stranger and the Gunfighter.
Based on the entire film, especially the endidny World War II-purists can basically avoid this film. There are absolutely no historical accuracies involved. You can pretty much sum up Inglorious Basterds as what Tarentino wished could have happened during World War II and is quite fun in a way that only someone like Tarantino can pull off.
WFG RATING: A-
Universal Pictures and TWC presents a Band Apart in association with Studio Babelsberg and Visiona Romantica. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Producer: Lawrence Bender. Writer: Quentin Tarantino. Cinematography: Robert Richardson. Editing: Sally Menke.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, Gedeon Burkhead, Jacky Ido, B.J. Novak, August Diehl, Denis Ménochet, Sylvester Groth, Martin Wuttke, Mike Myers, Julie Dreyfus, Richard Sammel, Samm Levine, Paul Rust.