Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
GRAPHIC VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
Anger in the Bible
Armies in the Bible
FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer
War in the Bible
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
Death in the Bible
|Featuring:||Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Mike Myers, Eli Roth, Samuel L. Jackson (Narrator), Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Samuel L. Jackson (Narrator voice), Daniel Brühl, more »|
|Producer:||The Weinstein Company, Universal Pictures, more »|
|Distributor:||The Weinstein Company|
“An inglorious, uproarious thrill-ride of vengeance”
Do you ever wish a major historical event turned out differently? Looking back at all the big happenings throughout modern world history, it’s sometimes interesting to think how massively different the world would look if one specific occurrence was altered or completely erased. Well, it’s in this mindset that we get the revisionist history of “Inglorious Basterds,” Quentin Tarantino’s latest effort that details, among other things, the fictional account of the Basterds, a group of Jewish-American soldiers in the 1940’s sent into Germany occupied France to strike fear into the Third Reich by taking justice into their own hands: killing Nazis and asking questions later, carving their way straight to the Fuhrer himself Adolf Hitler. The result is a sometimes witty, but often bloody and profane film that is the very definition of (excuse the pun) pulp fiction.
To understand what to expect from “Inglorious Basterds,” one must first understand what to expect from any movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino films always have a distinct feel to them, which is probably the reason that the director has a legion of diehard fans. While Quentin is undoubtedly an excellent writer, this reviewer has always found his work to be inconsistent, at best. He seems to be so in love with the dialogue he’s written that he wants every punch line and witty remark to be taken in all their glory. He feels that if andy scene is cut, the viewer will miss out on his pure genius. He changes pace quite regularly, going from nail biting suspense to a dead crawl in an instant.
Also, Tarantino seems to be in love with shock value, looking to give the moviegoer a reason to turn his or her head away from the screen. While he clearly has an abundance of movie knowledge, Tarantino films also come with many quirks specifically in the narrations and soundtracks to his films. These quirks usually don’t even remotely fit into the framework provided for the story. And while fans would say that’s just “Classic Quentin,” I’d say it’s just poor film making.
While “Basterds” is far more entertaining than any of his recent work, it still suffers from some of the same problems mentioned above. There are many occasions where the movie seems stuck in slow motion. Clocking in at 155 minutes, “Basterds” could’ve been a much better film with about 30 to 40 minutes of good editing. The language is rough, and the violence is also graphic, with shootings, beatings, as well as the Basterds scalping Nazis after they kill them.
Having said all of that, there are some classic moments in “Inglorious Basterds”. Sometimes the movie just comes together well. Various scenes, specifically the first and last of the film, come alive with suspense and intensity that make them downright enjoyable. The cast is first rate, as well, and while everyone is great in the film (including Mike Meyers in a one scene cameo) two performances stand out. The first is Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, the leader of the Basterds. Pitt plays Raine with such a great Southern dialect, as well as hysterical facial expressions and mannerisms. The other impressive performance is from Christoph Waltz as the menacing Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. Waltz, who has never been in an American film, is fluent in French, German, English, and Italian. As the antagonist known as ‘The Jew Hunter,’ Waltz showcases all four of these languages and does so in such an impressive fashion that he easily steals every scene he’s in.
While “Inglorious Basterds” is ruthless and mostly just meant for surface level entertainment, it does speak, possibly unintentionally, to the depravity of man. During the film, it’s easy to begin rooting for the Basterds as they scalp Nazis and attempt to kill Hitler. You find yourself justifying their actions because you know how it actually turned out. You start secretly cheering like it’s a sporting event. It’s a strong commentary on why humans are incapable of delivering ultimate justice: because we to are inherently fallen and sinful, just as the killers in the film. It’s a securing thought to know that we’ve been saved by grace from our fallen state. We don’t have to change history to feel as if justified, because it’s not on our shoulders to dispense justice, but on the one who has saved us. And that’s as glorious as it gets.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Negative—This comment is for Steven Adam Renkovish, age 27 If you read my comment you would probably be aware that I have seen many “R” films, as I openly mentioned seeing “District 9” and enjoying it. The complaints I (and others) put forth about this film are valid. Unlike some rated “R” films billed “genius”—District 9, The Killing Fields, El laberinto del fauno and even (practically rated X) Lust, Caution etc.--there was NO overall point, reasoning or even plot needed essence to the violence depicted in this film. Some critics have even referred to it as a “masterpiece.” Impressive, considering the company it keeps with other films billed as such, “Casablanca”, “Lord of the Rings” etc.
This film depecticted torture for “humors sake” and that was all. If that is why you went to see this film--because torture is “funny”—then sure, go see it. For the rest of us it came off as a vile, shamless RIP-OFF of “To Be or Not to Be” with Carol Lombard and Jack Benny. Except one vital exception--Ernst Lubitsch was able to pull off a “revenge-comedy” about WWII without scalping and baseball torture. Spare me your reasoning, “if it was rated “R” then you shouldn’t complain”—there are wonderful “R” films and poo. And this one is poo.
Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—G. Harms, age 35 (USA)
Positive—This Comment is meant to be a response to Chris, age 22, and G. Harms, age 35. I in no way intend to demean the two aforementioned commenters, but would like to put forth a short defense of the film in light of their criticisms.
1. Chris mentions the “pointless display of violence”. Now, while Mr. Tarantino did drop out of high school, he is considered by most to be a genius, and as such he seldom does anything “pointless.” I have been critical of Tarantino’s work for years, but must say, he thinks things through. It is entirely possible the director is posing the question: If this sort of brutality was capable of bringing WWII to an end years earlier, would it have been worth it? Keep in mind, countless lives would have been saved by the Basterds actions. Sure they were violent ( I dare say SOME American GIs probably did worse during the war) but the actions of the Bastereds ended the war.
2. Just because a film portrays “murder, rage, lust, revenge, cowardly acts during war, terrorism, and pride” does not mean it “glorifies” it. I can only assume you are making the argument for lust based on one of two scenes. Either the scene in which the Nazi Propaganda officer is represented having sex or the scene in which the young German war hero propositions Soshanna for sex. In either case, I would submit the acts are being used to demonize the Nazis, and are not in anyway glorifying lust. I could go through and make similar such arguments for each of the listed offenses, but for sake of brevity I wont.
3. As far as condemning this film, I suggest you read the book Behind The Screen. Boycotts and the like are extremely ineffective. Many studio execs never even hear about a boycott, and when they do it only confirms for them that you, the boycotter, were/are outside the demographic they marketed the film to in the first place. To G. Harms,
1. To the best of my knowledge, no one is scalped alive in the film. It seems there is a curious lack of screaming if someone is, in fact, scalped alive.
2. If you were not aware, Tarantino has an affinity for black/african american culture. The racist jokes are used here to vilify the Nazi’s and possibly comment on todays Neo-nazi’s. His respect for other races should be evident in that one of the most heroic, patient, even tempered and well respected characters is a man of African descent who is instrumental in the undoing of the Third Reich. Film, especially at the level of Tarantino, is multi-layered and is rarely overt. We should all attempt to watch films with an analytic eye, keeping in mind that only a poor filmmaker would come and say exactly what he wants you to take away from a film. Film is a visual medium and the directors goal is to show, not tell.
Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Pedroia, age 27 (USA)
Negative—Comment for Pedroia: “…but the actions of the Bastereds ended the war.” They did? I believe many historians and servicemen would disagree with you. This film also shows Hitler being killed at the end in a fire. Although it may be “very loosely based on” it is far from accurate. “…Just because a film portrays ‘murder, rage, lust, revenge, cowardly acts during war, terrorism, and pride’ does not mean it “glorifies” it…” I never said that. What I did say is that the film attempts to make “humor of torture.” Does it not? Did audience members not laugh when they watched some of those scenes? I have mentioned many films that show “murder, lust, rage, revenge etc.” but they do so with some sort of “point” if not, some kind of Christian overall “moral tale” or perhaps even a lesson/warning. This film does not. It, unfortunately, is not attempting to show history--it is attempting to show humor in violence.
It is a shame really because the film actually began with griping tension with a masterful performance from Christoph Waltz. For a couple of minutes it had the promise of a very interesting tale. “…To the best of my knowledge, no one is scalped alive in the film. It seems there is a curious lack of screaming if someone is, in fact, scalped alive.” Interesting how you paid so close attention to that detail. If my over zealous grammar lead to a misunderstanding of the exact nature of how the fore-mentioned prisoner-of-war was tortured then I apologize in advance. Torture of course, is MUCH funnier when the prisoner is dead. “…We should all attempt to watch films with an analytic eye, keeping in mind that only a poor filmmaker would come and say exactly what he wants you to take away from a film.
Film is a visual medium and the directors goal is to show, not tell…” I have to disagree my friend. There are many wonderful film makers who say exactly what was intended. To assume that they are poor filmmakers for doing so is foolish. Many often over analyze the immature nature of this film, some have even attempted to say that Tarintino was “testing” our own morality to see if we would really laugh at the torture scenes. However, I do not believe that Tarintino is that skilled of an intellectual. At best he tried to rip-off a classic film from 1947 and failed miserably at it. I enjoyed debating this movie with my fellow Christian brothers/sisters but, in final summary it’s interesting the amount of comments geared towards others who don’t like this film rather than the film itself. I think that in itself is telling that the films quality can’t stand on its own.
Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—G.Harms, age 35 (USA)
Positive—This is a short response to G. Harms, You criticized my comment on the Basterds actions ending the war, saying “They did? I believe many historians and servicemen would disagree with you. This film also shows Hitler being killed at the end in a fire.” I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am well aware of how WWII actually ended. I never claimed that the Basterds actions ended the war in reality, I only suggested that in the context of the film their actions, though violent, ended the war, and that this may be part of what Tarantino is doing with the film. Posing the question “Would this amount of brutality be acceptable in saving thousands of lives?” I would also like to address your assertion the film “is attempting to show humor in violence.”
I think a deeper look at the film would reveal, that though Tarantino may portray violence in a shocking, sometimes, humorous way, he attempts to cause one to question the appropriateness of laughing at these moments. As one sits in a theater watching other Americans laugh as the Basterds beat and killed Nazi’s, Tarantino quietly holds up a mirror to that very audience. He shows a group of Nazis sitting in a theater, watching a violent film, in which, American soldiers are shown dying. He depicts the Nazi’s laughing at the violence. The scene is a dark reflection of what has been going on in the theater up to this point. I stand by my statement that film is a visual medium and that a director’s goal is to show, not tell. Run a search on the words “show, not tell” or “film is a visual medium” and I dare say you will find many sites on writing and film which would support my position. This film is Tarantino’s attempt to do that. The film, has a point, and just because you were offended by some things in the film, does not mean the film was pointless. I think I have demonstrated that though things in the film were disagreeable, they very easily could have served a purpose. Out of curiosity, if you have the chance to answer, what 1947 film did you think Tarantino was trying to ripp off?
Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Pedroia, age 27 (USA)
This comment is for Kira Williams, non viewer age 18 Not to invalidate you opinion, but the movie you are begging people not to see has an MPAA rating of R, for STRONG GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, LANGUAGE, AND NUDITY. I’m not entirely sure why you were so shocked that a Quentin Tarantino movie, that is rated R for STRONG GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, LANGUAGE, AND NUDITY, was offensive. That is what the R rating is for. It’s been a while since the director put out a movie, and you’re young, so maybe you’re not familiar with his work. I’m not trying to snark or be rude, but if you are a sensitive soul, perhaps you ought not see rated R movies by directors who are infamous for making ultra-violent films. Just saying. To add: There’s a bad word in the title of the movie! That alone should have been a warning.
—Jana Peterson, age 33 (USA)