Inglourious Basterds: Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied France

Inglourious Basterds, entirely apart from having a title that’s painful to type, entirely separate from the not-entirely-favourable reception it had at Cannes, is Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie.

I’m too young to really remember him being cinema’s enfant terrible, and I recall being sent upstairs by my aunt while she and my brother watched Reservoir Dogs – unfortunately, the TV was at the bottom of the stairs so I could hear every damn word she was protecting me from – but I know his work, if not overly well.

I realise that it’s becoming a sort of recurring motif for me, labelling things as “not movies” … but Tarantino doesn’t so much make “not movies” as he does “genre movies” – films in bold and italics. They’re more movie than movie.

Tarantino is in the business of making replicants, is what I’m saying.

I saw this trailer for it at Bruno, and immediately afterwards my occasional comrade said “that looks shit”. But it doesn’t to my eyes. It looks somewhat splendid, and I say that as someone who thought that Death Proof was self-indulgent clap trap only partly redeemed by a great ending. As Tony said to Dittman, “it’s Tarantino, man!”

There don’t seem to have been a lot of World War II movies out of America lately, particularly not ones that have dealt with Nazi fighting adventures.  Spike Lee had his, which never saw release here and, in the interest of academic honesty, I can’t be bothered looking up the name of it. The other was Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie, which dared to answer the question “how do you make an assassination plot against Hitler boring?”

Inglourious Basterds, on the other hand, is unambiguous: it’s about the olden days when people were allowed to kill Nazis on film and do so in elaborate and bloody ways. What’s so bad about that? It looks fun, and it looks like once again Tarantino has indulged his love for film. Some may say that Kill Bill Volume 2 was better than the first, but what I most remember about it was that the credits doubled as the credits for Volume 1, and reminded me of how much fun I had the day I saw it.

Inglourious Basterds features everything that anyone could ever ask of this type of movie: Brad Pitt shooting Nazis, and at least a little bit of participation from Samuel L. Jackson. What could possibly go wrong? This is me setting up a hubristic goal: I am going to see Inglourious Basterds and I am going to enjoy it. 2009 has been so disappointing and underwhelming so far that it has to deliver.

It should also be noted that the trailer I’ve posted above is slightly different to the one I saw, but largely the same, and totally different to the most widely available trailer which makes the movie look boring as all get out. I know that some – my father, for one –  think that one shouldn’t treat Nazi Germany as a simple matter of gung ho guns, render it a “boy’s own” adventure, but I think that, as long as we don’t try to deny it, it’s right to try to get as much out of the experience as we can. By rendering Hitler ridiculous – and there’s no one better at that than Mel Brooks – we disrespect not the memories of those who died in the war, but those of Hitler himself.

Please don’t disappoint me again, Mister Tarantino: I know you have the power, through this movie, to save my American summer.


  1. Wavatar Mark July 18, 2009
  2. Wavatar Alex July 18, 2009
  3. Wavatar Mark July 19, 2009
  4. Wavatar Curtis July 19, 2009
  5. Wavatar Alex July 19, 2009
  6. Wavatar Leonardo June 7, 2012

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