Saturday, August 29, 2009
It was hard for me while watching the film to avoid criticizing it too much, to just watch and enjoy it. Yet being that I have watched too many films in my time, I could not help myself. While Inglourious Basterds is not my favorite Tarantino film (i.e. I like Kill Bill more), it is still a great film. The film is more Franz Fanon than Sam Peckinpah, more part of a fantastical alternate history than traditional fictional history, yet it works. The film follows a band of Jewish American soldiers led by Aldo Raine (played by Brad Pitt) involved in an Apache resistance against the Nazis. The film also features a Jewish girl named Shosanna Dreyfus (played by Mélanie Laurent), who survived a massacre where her entire family was slaughtered and now, years later during WWII, is the operator of a cinema theater. Both the Basterds and Shosanna want vengeance for the wrongs the Nazis have committed. The main antagonist in the film is the Nazi Hans Landa (played by Christoph Waltz), who is an evil genius and a skilled detective.
As a resistance film, it is rawer and bloodier than most. Whereas Ashes and Diamonds is moody, Army of Shadows is retrospective, and Battle of Algiers a play on morality, Inglourious Basterds offers no apologizes, it is pure Spaghetti in nature. As someone who has seen a fair share of Spaghetti westerns (and being that this film is from that mold), you begin to notice the ethical ambiguity they present. Yet one thing that is for sure, the Basterds, for all their apache-esque savagery, are more in the right than the opposition. Similar to Django, you can obviously find faults with Basterd’s actions, yet you cannot fault their motives. For the Basterds, they have a consequentialist worldview. Whether you like this film or not, it will most likely be based on whether you can handle this Basterd worldview. For Shosanna, like Bill in Death Rides a Horse or Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill, her revenge is not only necessary for her character, but also a long time coming.
There are problems with the film, the biggest one being the screenplay. The brief narration by Samuel L. Jackson was pointless and distracting. The ending of the film has plot holes in it, which has coincidences taking place without explanation. Another problem I had with the film was with how Ennio Morricone’s masterpieces were used in the film. In most films that use Morricone there is space for his music to develop, yet like Kill Bill, Tarantino uses only snippets, losing the magic Morricone’s music can add to a film. Nonetheless, the film despite these flaws, is one of Tarantinos’s best, and I recommend it.
Entertainment Value: **** (4 out of 5)
Artistic Value: **** (4 out of 5)
Photo from: Vanity Fair