It’s a Tarantino film, so what do you expect? Well I expect (or dread) extreme graphic violence and I don’t like that part of it. Not particularly the violence itself but the overly graphic depicting of the violence in my opinion isn’t that necessary. On the other hand I also expect, a good story, some thought provoking ideas, excellent movie making techniques and something out of the ordinary. This is what I expect from Tarantino and it makes the violence tolerable.
Inglourious Basterds ticks all those boxes. A story of Jewish-American soldiers “The Basterds” are behind enemy lines in German occupied France to spread fear by scalping (shown in too much detail) and brutally killing Nazis. Meanwhile Goebbels (Reichsminister of Propaganda) is persuaded to hold the premier of his latest propaganda movie in a cinema ran by a woman who happens to be Jewish, although obviously they don’t know that. Mike Myers pops up in a very strange scene where he is obviously playing Mike Myres with a silly accent and the story rolls on…
It has been criticized for being overly long. It didn’t feel to long in total, but some scenes did seem to take too long while other areas of the story could have been expanded. I would have liked to see more of “The Bastards” in action rather than the aftermath and torture scene we did get. Also, the scene in the basement bar just seemed to go on for ever although it was fantastically well constructed with Citizen Kane style extreme low and high angles to build tension. The other thing to remember in this movie is that it isn’t supposed to be historically accurate – this takes place in Tarantiono’s universe which may look like the one we all know but it just isn’t.
There are another couple of typical Tarantino trademarks thrown into the mix which I’ll mention. The first was to suddenly, well into the movie have a narrator explain a bit of background on a character. This could easily have been done in a number of other ways, most simply of course to have it narrated by one of the other characters and therefore keep the flow of the story. Not only was this narrators voice not one we had heard before but it was Samuel L. Jackson who has a very distinctive and recognisable voice and doesn’t otherwise appear in this movie. The result is that you are jarred out of being involved in the plot to suddenly think ‘oh yes I’m watching a film’. However, the second strange technique was that in crowd scenes on a couple of occasions the names of leading Nazis appeared written on the screen with arrows pointing out who it was. I was surprised that this was very easy as a viewer to accept, it meant that we knew these important historical figures were there but it didn’t have to be shoehorned into the plot to introduce each one. Still, I’m sure some people didn’t mind Samuel L Jackson popping up a couple of times but were distracted by the text on the screen – so I suppose it all balances out.
The film reminded me of some of the classic war movies like The Dirty Dozen, which build the tension towards a climax that you really aren’t sure will work out or not. Those films also managed to weave in the occasional bit of humour, Inglourious Basterds does this very well the accents, circumstances, some props and of course Mike Myres for no obvious reason all made for several laughs during this movie.
I liked it.