Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

For his latest film, director Quentin Tarantino gleefully flouted the rules of period films if not film making in general. Therefore, don't expect a historically accurate film about World War II like Saving Private Ryan because the film takes place in an alternate reality. Besides, Inglourious Basterds succeeds at providing you a good time at the movie theatre.

1941: In France, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), a Jewish, had witnessed the brutal murder of her family at the hands of Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and his men. In fact, it was found that Shosanna and her family were hidden by a non-Jewish French family living on a dairy farm. While he was about to kill her, Col. Landa lets her escape and Shosanna hides in plain sight in Paris. Elsewhere, an all-Jewish commando - mostly made of Americans - under the command of Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is assembled. Besides, its goal is to kill Nazis once it's dropped behind enemy lines in France.

By 1944, the "Basterds" work with Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), a British film critic turned soldier, and Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), a German film star who works as a double agent for Great Britain. Their plan consists in killing Nazi officials at a film premiere in a movie theatre of Paris. However, the movie theatre turns out to be owned by Shosanna (she inherited it) and she has a plan of her own to kill the Nazis who are attending to the premiere.

Some people were ticked off just because Inglourious Basterds's historical content is inaccurate. Obviously, such a judgement is not deserved. In fact, although this film doesn't deal with vigilantes like Watchmen, another film taking place in an alternate historical reality, you don't have to be a genius to notice that this film takes place in an alternate historical reality. Moreover, despite the use of a dark humour, Tarantino obviously had in mind that the Holocaust happened. Given that the art of cinema is not short on films about the Nazis' unspeakable cruelty towards Jews, this film takes fun at showing Jews who take revenge for their fallen coreligionists. After all, wasn't Tarantino aiming for an entertaining film about remorseless (and rationalized) cruelty? All in all, if you're expecting a film about the Second World War as you know it, then skip this film.

On another note, those who cherish Pulp Fiction would probably lose their mastery of language after seeing the performance from the well chosen cast. Indeed, what would a film by Tarantino be without its gallery of memorable characters? While every actors admirably do their job, it's Christopher Waltz and Mélanie Laurent steal the show. As Shosanna, a character who hides from the Nazis in plain sight, Mélanie Laurent shows the right balance between the display of fear and courage. As for Christopher Waltz, let's applause him for his ability to hide villainy under a deceptive veil of tenderness. Of course, on a global view, if the actors do their job with a discernible enthusiasm, this is because the film blurs quite well the line between good and evil not necessarily in the character's identity. After all, we know who the heroes in this film are. In fact, it's rather in the well-rendered behaviours that we see the line being blurred for our pleasure.

Finally, Inglourious Basterds may not be the best work from Quentin Tarantino since some may find the film too long. Indeed, you don't know what lengthy dialogues look like until you see a film from Quentin Tarantino. However, Inglourious Basterds's plot is simple like a spaghetti Western, full of subtleties in its own way and entertaining without pretending to talk about History like other period films coming out in summer.

Rating: 4/5

Origin:USA/Germany/France (2009)
Length:153 minutes
Screenplay:Quentin Tarantino
Director:Quentin Tarantino
Starring:Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent and Christopher Waltz

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