|Hans Landa with his ridiculously awesome pipe.|
Done? Alright, now believe me when I tell you that the ratio of badassery to talking is about 50 times higher in that trailer than in the actual movie. Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Inglourious Basterds takes the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich in an entirely new (and factually incorrect) direction, and does it in the best possible way. From Lt. Aldo Raine’s (Brad Pitt) hilarious Southern drawl and murderous tendencies to the obscenely evil dealings of the oddly comical SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christopher Waltz) to the vengeful plots of Shosanna LaPadite (Mélanie Laurent), Inglourious Basterds is entertaining, terrifying, and engaging all the way through.
I’m going to bring this up multiple times, but that’s only because of how true it is: Christopher Waltz’s Hans Landa is a triumph of a character, dominating every scene he’s in with his almost bubbly personality. Waltz takes a truly evil character (one whose nickname is “The Jew Hunter”) and makes him comical in a very dark sense. You almost want to like him. Almost. Even though Waltz steals his scenes, Pitt is also perfectly cast as the Nazi-hating American Jew Aldo Raine. With a somewhat nonchalant air about him, Raine collects a group of 8 Jewish-Americans that he calls the Basterds on a secret mission to drop behind enemy lines and kill as many Nazis as possible. During his debriefing of them, he says “Each and every one of you owes me 100 Nazi scalps! And I want my scalps!” That sums up his character pretty well: brutal, to the point, and kind of comical. He and Landa comprise 2 of 3 base parts of the story, the other focusing on Shosanna LaPadite. She is briefly introduced in the opening scene, but doesn’t show up again until much later. By that point, she is consumed with anger towards Hans Landa, who killed her family. The three paths converge more and more throughout the film, ending in a rather explosive scene.
Once again, the highlight of this movie is beyond a doubt Christopher Waltz’s incredible performance. Absolutely, it’s also a classic Quentin Tarantino film, but every possible aspect is overshadowed by Waltz. Since that can’t be my only point, I’ll also mention that Tarantino puts his mark on this with trademark violence and gore in addition to just pure quirkiness. I’m talking about things like subtitles that weren’t translated from French or German. There’s at least one scene, although probably more, in which a characters says “Merci” and the subtitle says “Thank you”, only to see the subtitle of “Merci” not 2 minutes later. It’s a style choice that I personally really enjoyed. In addition, Inglourious Basterds has a highly entertaining soundtrack. Ennio Morricone put together a truly odd piece of work, combining brass fanfare with old school 40s/50s music, and at least one song that sounds like modern rock. I’m not sure if it’s something I would listen to outside of the movie, but it works at the time.
Inglourious Basterds, while controversial and rather over the top, is a movie you don’t want to miss. Tarantino comes back with full force, and is supported by multiple strong performances from his lead actors. It’s unique, original, and downright fun. Just make sure you don’t bring any small children when you see it; I’ve heard the sight of people being scalped can be scarring for them.
Official YAMB Grade: Like