Essential Film: Inglorious Basterds

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent

Year: 2009


by Jenna Robertson

For many, Quentin Tarantino is the undisputed king of the 21st century film noir, and his 2009 WWII epic Inglorious Basterds is definitely a testament to this label. Set in Nazi occupied Paris, the multi-lingual film (only 30% of the dialogue is in English) features a varied but perfectly selected cast, including Christoph Waltz, who won an Academy Award for his sublime performance as Colonel Hans Landa, and a moustached, surprisingly hilarious Brad Pitt. Inglorious Basterds is so unique in the fact that it is simultaneously moving, hilarious, intelligent and gory – a true feat for any genre of film. It is truly enjoyable from start to finish, and true to form, Tarantino manages to intertwine different perspectives while maintaining a cohesive and intelligent storyline.

The film begins in a rural area of Nazi-occupied France, with the Gestapo arriving at the home of a dairy farmer, who, after being manipulated by Colonel Hans Landa (Waltz), or, ‘the Jew hunter’, reveals that he is harbouring a Jewish family beneath his floorboards. All but one of the Dreyfus family are killed, and Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) flees to Paris following the iconic line, “Au revoir, Shosanna!”, delivered perfectly by Waltz as he lowers his gun. The film then changes direction slightly, as we meet ‘The Basterds’, a group of Jewish-American soldiers, led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Pitt). The Basterds exact revenge on every Nazi they come across, scalping them once dead, or carving a Swastika into the foreheads of those who leave alive. Moving at a fast pace, the film then focuses its attention back to Shosanna Dreyfus, who, three years after the murder of her family, is the owner of a cinema in Paris and is masquerading as ‘Emmanuelle Mimieux’. Through the meeting of famed German soldier Frederick Zoller (Daniel Brühl), Shosanna is forced by the German authorities to screen a film honouring the work of the Nazis, ‘Nation’s Pride’, and is informed that the Fuhrer himself will be attending. Catching wind of this, the Basterds intend to blow up the cinema, killing Hitler and his followers, unaware that Shosanna has a similar plan.

Inglorious Basterds is an essential film in so many ways. The entire cast, right down to minor roles, is incredible and it is evident that Tarantino has taken his time to find the perfect actors to portray his characters. Waltz portrays the cunning Landa perfectly, evoking charm and sheer nastiness at the same time. Brad Pitt’s comic timing is also commendable, and other famous faces, including Diane Kruger and Michael Fassbender, give excellent performances, proving that their roles in the film are more than just cameos. In addition, German actor Martin Wuttke plays the role of Hitler brilliantly, as the Fuhrer is portrayed as villainous, but appears on screen as a childlike brat. The cast itself is excellent, but Tarantino’s dialogue, style and the general storyline of the film really stand out. Unlike the majority of war films, Inglorious Basterds is not set on the battlefield, and it is does not attempt to be harrowing, or realistic. Rather, the film is surreal, genuinely funny and at times bizarre. Therefore it surpasses most other films in its genre, leaving them in its wake with a fast pace, witty dialogue and intelligent storyline, creating the ultimate cinematic experience. Whether you’re watching it for the first or the twenty-first time, you will be captivated from beginning to end.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);