Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino’s return to top form. The film is set in Nazi-occupied France and is a world war film that doesn’t have much to do with war. It is a “Men on a Mission” story, in the sense of The Dirty Dozen (1967), partly presented like a Sergio Leone Western. Tarantino rewrites the history of the Second World War. As can be heard, he has written about ten years on the script and the care can be clearly seen. More than ever, he works with long set pieces, striking moments that remain in memory. The opening sequence of Inglourious Basterds is probably the best scene Tarantino has ever produced. It is a masterclass in building, holding and releasing tension. A sturdy farmer hits a tree stump with his axe. His daughter hangs laundry on the leash. You can hear a vehicle approaching from a distance. An Ennio Morricone track sets in. The farmer washes his face and sends his daughters to his little house. The newcomer turns out to be SS Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). He is polite and articulate, but has a dangerous look and is looking for a runaway Jewish family. You always ask yourself, what does the guy really know? Together with Heath Ledger’s Joker, Landa is one of the best villains in the last 20 years. Tarantino’s writing skills in combination with Waltz’s unique presentation have a poetic quality. Large passages of the film are not communicated in English, but in French or German. This circumstance is also repeatedly used to build up tension. On the opposite side is Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). He is the leader of the Basterds, an American special unit that kills Nazis. Pitt’s exaggerated portrayal is close to satire. Overall, Inglourious Basterds has many of the qualities that make Pulp Fiction stand out – original characters, excellently portrayed, unique dialogues, humor in themes and moments not normally made for it, and apt use of music.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, Mélanie Laurent
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Runtime: 153 min.
Release Date: 2009/05/20 (at Cannes)
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Editor: Sally Menke
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Budget: $70 million