Aug 24

Inglorious Basterds: A Glorious Rewriting of the History Books

by Nathan Atnikov · 0 comments

Put simply, Inglorious Basterds is a revenge fantasy. The plot – a small group of Jewish renegades goes deep into Nazi territory, where they go from the hunted to the hunters, slaughtering any and all German soldiers they come across. This would be pretty pedestrian stuff in the hands of an incapable director, but in the hands of Quentin Tarantino it turns into a captivating and complex story.

Tarantino creates characters that are at once absurd and entirely realistic. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is the leader of the Basterds. He’s a boisterous, egotistical lunatic, with a keen sense of timing and the type of smile that drives his enemies insane. This is the type of man who couldn’t exist outside the reality of this movie, but is absolutely perfect within it. Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) steals every scene he’s in as a Nazi detective. Tarantino wisely doesn’t portray him as a single-minded automaton. Instead, Landa is complex, wildly intelligent, and a step ahead of everyone until the film’s final scene. This is an Oscar-worthy performance.

What people will remember immediately after seeing the film is its violence. There was certainly some squirming and covering of eyes in the theatre at Eau Claire Market. But what will be enduringly memorable is the tension built around that violence. The long, drawn-out conversations where the roles of cat and mouse are handed back and forth so many times that no one is sure who is really leading the dance. Tarantino’s true genius isn’t in the action, it’s in the talking about the action.

Inglorious Basterds has opened to divisive reviews, but what everyone seems to agree upon is that this movie is worth watching. It’ll stir up conversation and sweep you up in its dance with (and against) reality. It might not win him any prizes for his historical research, but it just might be the best film of Tarantino’s career.

Inglorious Basterds plays at Eau Claire Cinema.

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