Before writing about this masterpiece by ace filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, I would like to use this opportunity to talk about the title of this blog. I’ll begin by differentiating a movie from a film. While both words mean the same thing, it’s the usage that distinguishes them. “Movie” is a fairly recent idiom predominantly used in the capital of cinematic universe, i.e., the Hollywood. Basically, it’s a american word for films. “Film” is the birth-name of moving pictures which two great Frenchmen who went by the name of Lumiere brothers invented. So, Films are broadly what anti-Hollywood guys, rather proudly identify themselves with, especially the western European film community.
Now, what makes a great film is simple: you’ll have to have an excellent potpourri of an interesting story, appealing characters, a fitting soundtrack and to interweave it all, a visionary filmmaker who can make everything work together synchronously. Needless to say, QT’s Inglourious Basterds is one of those movie which easily falls into the category of “Films you should watch before you die”. And to pay homage to Mr. Quentin Tarantino, I have divided this review into 5 non-linear parts. I’ll begin with the middle.
The ‘cliché’ Mexican Standoff?
In an underground tavern, the great German film actress Bridget Von Hammersmark is playing an awesome fictional game with some German soldiers (one of them recently became father). The objective of the game is to identify the fictional or non-fictional personality about whom all players know except one. They are enjoying when 3 uniforms enter the scene hurriedly. Miss Hammersmark beautifully manages the situation before a drunken soldier gave away the uniforms’ true identity. In a consequent Mexican standoff, all but one (the great actress) died.
The Who’s Who?
Few hours earlier we are introduced to the film critic Lt. Archie Hicox, a German-born British spy who was one of the 3 uniforms dedicated to the Britain initiated cause of eliminating the man who is known by the name of Adolf Hitler. He is assisted by the eponymous Nazi-hunters, headed by the deep accented bootlegger Aldo ‘the Apache’. For those who don’t know, bootlegging is the act of illegally making video cassettes of theatrically released movies. Anyways, the Aldo team is filled of ruthless, violent and sadistic characters such as Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, Sgt. Donny Donnovitz better known as “The Bear Jew”, to name a few who have successfully created a havoc in the entire German military, much to the disappointment of Herr Hitler.
The shoe’s on the other foot
Few hours after the tavern scene, a German Jew-hunter who goes by the name of Col. Hans Landa inspects the blood bathed crime scenery. He is the one guy who knows and understand both side of the world – the bad and ugly. A brilliant investigator, a shrewd mastermind and a well-read intellectual is some of the phrases used to describe this charismatic man. Fluent in innumerable languages, he is perhaps the wisest and smartest human being in the entire movie. Or so as to say, in entire QT universe, which will be well-addressed later on. Col. Landa’s is a winner, no matter where or with whom he stands. In the movie’s iconic inaugural 1st chapter, once upon a time in Nazi occupied France, he is shown as a man of humility dedicated to finding hidden Jews and execute them mercilessly. Towards the end, he is adjudged as a man of paramount integrity without whom the Nazi phenomenon would’ve never ended.
Who wants to send a message to Germany?
Now, that leave us with one more central storyline. The romantic adventure of cinema-lover, German war hero Fredrick Zoller and the love of his life and his untimely death, the beauty with brains, Miss Shoshanna Dreyfus/Emmanuelle Mimieux who owns the cinema theater where the climax occurs. And so to say this plot has lot of humane feelings unlike usual Tarantino-ish! The girl’s family were killed ruthlessly in the opening scene itself, thanks to the ever-cunning Hans Landa. She somehow escaped, landed in Paris, 3 years passed and inherited a war hero who falls in love with the wrong girl. Or the sensible girl who had lot of commitments to fall in love with an enemy. Both the characters are justified yet neither is deserving for either’s love. Quite a paradox, you see!
That little somethin’ you can’t take off!
I said the review is divided into 5 parts, right? So, you must be wondering which narrative I left. Well, to be honest, all the sub-plots are covered. Yet, they deserve an intermixed ending. And so here is the 5th element – the Quentin Tarantino universe. So, we have a film-actress, a film-critic, a bootlegger, a cinema-lover and a cinema-owner all find sudden meaningful roles in 1940s Nazi occupied France. And on top of that, the most vile creature in recent human history died at a cinema theater which all makes sense why “films” are the center-piece of conversation in many QT films. I remember an interview with QT when he said “My body of work is of paramount importance”. And I completely adhere to his belief – a movie about movies. That’s what Inglourious Basterds is all about. Remember the scene when a voice-over Samuel L. Jackson explaining how flammable nitrate films are and out of nowhere a scene from “Sabotage” (1936) is beautifully inserted just to illustrate the dangers of nitrate film. Such And thanks a lot Quentin for it and yeah, I too think this just might be your masterpiece!