Of all of the works of Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds is perhaps the most farcical. Which is ironic, considering its historical setting in the midst of World War II. Tarantino tackles this subject with a customarily gung-ho attitude, using it as opportunity to rewrite the past so that the Nazis suck it even more emphatically than they did in real life. It’s a pure fantasy, largely eschewing the trauma of the Holocaust apart from in a terrifying opening scene with Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa – the SS Colonel responsible for hunting Jewish people in Nazi-occupied France. These moments of tension give way to a war epic that is more The Great Escape than Schindler’s List.
You do wonder whether movies on war should be this much fun, but Inglourious Basterds is less about glorifying these kinds of international conflicts than it is about satisfying Tarantino’s fetish for violent revenge. After all, the Nazis are always going to be fair game when it comes to onscreen cruelty – much like the slave owners that fall victim to Tarantino’s stylish violence in Django Unchained. Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) is this film’s equivalent to Kill Bill‘s The Bride, with Nazi-scalping support from Brad Pitt’s ragtag band of resistance fighters that includes Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz (Eli Roth) and his trusty baseball bat. Don’t watch unless you can handle a bit of gore.
Inglourious Basterds was released 10 years ago on August 21st, 2009