Quentin Tarantino has done it again. And I really do think this is one of his best! In fact, I would say it’s his best since Pulp Fiction. And I think I even enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Pulp Fiction. But that could just be a personal thing – as I do enjoy my war movies… Besides, the fact that Inglourious Basterds stars Brad Pitt as an arrogant, thickly accented Lieutenant from Tennessee also helps.
The plot goes like this: In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as “The Basterds” are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis. The Basterds soon cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers… and that’s all I am saying because I don’t want to give it all away!
Brad Pitt as 1st Lieutenant Aldo Raine, aka “Aldo the Apache” is a vengeance-driven 1st Special Service Force officer from Maynardville in Tennessee, who puts together a team of eight soldiers for the OSS. His character has been described as “a voluble, freewheeling outlaw” similar to Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction.
But in this movie, Brad Pitt has nothing on Christoph Waltz as Standartenführer Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter” – he is absolutely brilliant!!! Landa is the central antagonist: a romantic, yet sinister pipe-smoking Austro-German SD officer with a keen ability to locate Jews hiding throughout France. He is well-versed in languages, being able to speak fluent English, French and Italian in addition to his native German. Tarantino has said that this might be the greatest character he’s ever written. He originally sought for Leonardo DiCaprio to be cast as Landa but then decided to have the character played by a German actor. Thank goodness for that! I think we’ve seen enough of Leonardo’s fake accents after he played a Rhodesian in the movie Blood Diamond. Ok, he wasn’t that bad. He did say ‘lekker’ and ‘hey’ and ‘allrrrite’ a lot. But it’s just doesn’t sound the same when it’s not your native language.
So the role ultimately went to the Austrian Waltz, who according to Tarantino, “gave me my movie back” – as he felt the movie couldn’t be made without Landa as a character but feared the part was unplayable. Waltz won the Best Actor Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his performance, which speaks for itself!
Mike Myers has a brief appearance as British General Ed Fenech – a legendary British military mastermind who provides a plot to kill the German leadership. And Diane Kruger stars as popular German actress Bridget von Hammersmark – who’s a spy for Great Britain.
I missed him this time, but Quentin Tarantino stars as an unnamed Nazi footman (the first to be depicted being scalped), and also as an American soldier in the German propaganda film-within-a-film, “Nation’s Pride”, with a single spoken line: “I implore you, we must destroy that tower!” It is a recurring feature of Tarantino’s movies for the director himself to appear in a cameo role.
Tarantino has said that despite it being a war film, Inglourious Basterds is a “spaghetti western but with World War II iconography”.
I cried a couple of tears at one stage, and I laughed out loud at least three times – which to me is an indication of a good move indeed. Go see it, and judge for yourself!
I might go see it again, actually… I think it’s one of those movies which benefit from a second viewing – as you’ll discover new elements. And well, I missed Quentin’s appearance. Now that I know what to look out for, I won’t miss him the second time around.