Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Where do I start. I'm a Quentin Tarantino fan, and at the same time I have mixed feelings about this film. First off I have to say that my father served on the other side, and though he had nothing good to say about it I did hear some of his stories. They were all gruesome and none of them were happy stories. Tarantino's film makes every German a Nazi. This is just too simplistic for me. I know this is only a film, but films like "Saving Private Ryan", "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Enemy at the Gates" truly depict the horrors of war. Tarantino's film does not. Sure he shows the gruesome details of the kill, but it's for shock effect, and no more. I like Tarantino's style, and have always thought of him as a skilled filmmaker, and a lover of cinema and I mean ALL cinema. The opening scene of the film is quite good and unnerving. His actors play over the top and it suits the film.

How Tarantino weaves his story lines is also fascinating, but then this is film is about revenge, and I really think the Tarantino has covered this theme already in his "Kill Bill" films. I saw the film with a very older crowd, and a lot winced at the violence, but all I can say is that people HATED the villain here. Christoph Waltz plays Nazi Colonel Hans Landa to a tee. The character drips evil, and vial all over the screen, and it does look like Waltz is having some fun. The same could be said about Brad Pitt also in his portrayal of Lieutenant Aldo Raine. Pitt seems to be enjoying the character, and watching these two on screen is highly entertaining. Which brings me to the length of this film. Clocking in at 2 hours and 33 minutes the film does move. There is a lot of talk in the film all in German or French, and there are a lot of sub-titles. I must say I'm a fast reader, but even I was challenged to keep up. Hey at least the critics can't say that the Germans had bad accents here.

If your a Tarantino fan you'll see this film no matter what, but if you're put off by sub-titled movies you may not like it as much. I had no problem with the sub-titles, but some may. Just a fair warning.

What gave me a problem and I believe this is purely an emotional one on my part was that of every German in the film was a Nazi. Having heard the horror stories of the Third Reich from family I would have liked to see a bit more truth depicted in this world war two movie. I know it's a send up to some B-movies of the 60's, but the central idea that all Germans were Nazi's just didn't sit well with me and really isn't true historically. The characters are black & white, and there is not much depth to them. Tarintino gives us a German soldier (Til Schweiger) who has killed many Nazis and he is enlisted into the basterds. There is only a brief back story about him, and that's it. I have no clue on why this man is the way he is and it seems neither does Tarantino. To me the character is added just to increase the body count. Maybe everybody else wants to think of this film as more then just a B-movie on steroids, but honestly that's all it is. I also found Tarantino's re-writing of World War 2 offensive, and really dumb. Yes it's great to see Hitler get machined gun and riddled with bullets, but that's not what happened, and it's gore for gore sake.

So can I recommend this film? Not really. For the cinema lover maybe, but otherwise I think Tarantino can do a lot better, and as Lieutenant Aldo Raine says at the end of the movie with a nod and a wink to Tarantino "I believe this is one of my best works ever".

Don't bet on it Mr. Tarantino! But I still look forward to your next one.

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