#3- Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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Who's List Was This On
- Cubsfan4evr1: #2
- David "MVP" Eckstein: #9
- Daniel Bennett: #10
- Bryan Hernandez: t-#11
- Adam Kaplan: #20

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, and Michael Fassbender

The Plot

The movie centers around three main characters: American Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt) and his misfit team of Jewish-American soldiers who call themselves "The Basterds". This guerrilla group is dropped into war torn Europe during the Nazi's reign in WWII and whose sole goal is to cause havoc on the Nazi's and to eventually take down Adolf Hitler. Raine's second in command is Sgt. Donny Donowitz (a.k.a. The Bear Jew) played by Eli Roth, a local boy from Boston, Massachusetts who's main purpose in the group is to beat the hell out of Nazi's with a baseball bat.

The second story line centers around Col. Hans Landa (Waltz), a fairly high ranking officer in The Third Reich. The Colonel's nickname is The Jew Hunter and it is his mission to help wipe out the Jewish race and to stop The Basterds.

The last main story line follows the life of Shoshanna Dreyfus (Laurent), a young Jewish girl who has managed to escape the grasps of the Nazi's and ended up owning a movie theater in Paris. Shoshanna is then befriended by a young Nazi soldier by the name of Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) who's recent courageous acts have caused Joseph Goebbles (Sylvester Groth) to create a movie about him and Zoller wants his movie to be premiered in Shoshanna's theater.

Why This Movie Is Great

Tarantino movies are probably the hardest movies to analyze. After you first see the movie you love it. The film is so engaging and so exciting and so thrilling that you just can't help leave the theater with a smile on your face. The inherent problem (at least for me when trying to write a movie review) is to help explain the "why"? Why was the film so engaging and exciting and thrilling? Why did you leave the theater with a smile on your face?

Tarantino films do not delve deep into the human psyche like say a Martin Scorsese or Darren Aronofsky film would and his films do not portray a deeper message about the society we live in like a Steven Spielberg or Stanley Kubrick film does. In fact, his movies are most comparable to action movies where you like it because it's awesome. Tarantino gets most his influences from the crappy B movies he saw from his youth. But Tarantino makes the movie all his own.

If you saw any of Tarantino's films, especially Inglourious Basterds, you'd know it was a Tarantino film without seeing any of the credits whatsoever. QT has a movie style brand all of his own. It can not be copied or duplicated. You may try, but you will not succeed.

I think the real reason Inglourious Basterds is such a fantastic film is because Tarantino creates characters and scenes that are just so engaging and entertaining that you can't helped but be sucked in waiting for more. The scenes and characters may not necessarily have anything to do with the overarching plot, but because characters are so well developed and because they are so witty and engaging that you don't care. Two scenes from the film stick out to me that fit this description.

The first scene is the film's opening sequence between the French farmer (Denis Menochet) and Col. Hans Landa where the audience is introduced to the evil German. We get a sense of what makes this man tick and what his job entails. Truth be told, this scene is way too long if all the director wanted to accomplish was introduce characters but as the audience you love this scene. You don't care what another director would have done, you love what Quentin Tarantino did do. Plus, the length in the scene helps build tension for the final minutes of it. The build up and anticipation was not only fun to watch but well worth the wait.

The second scene is the entire sequence where Sgt Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), Archie Hicox (Fassbender), and Wilhelm Wicki (Gedeon Burkhard) meet up with the famous actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Kruger) in the basement of a local pub. Upon my last viewing of the film I timed how long the scene was and it went north of thirty minutes. The last five to ten minutes of the scene are the most important elements of it in order to advance the plot but you don't care how long the scene goes because these characters- especially Major Deiter Hellstrom (August Diehl), the Nazi soldier's commander- are so engaging and entertaining that you never want the fun to end. The vast majority of the scene are just people playing 20 questions but because of Tarantino's genius you love every minute of it.

The actor that steals the movie is Christoph Waltz who beautifully plays Col. Handa. Waltz's award for Best Supporting Actor was the only Academy Award the film received (because the film got Hurt Locker'd by Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker. The next year The Social Network got Hurt Locker'd by The King's Speech). If it wasn't for The Joker the year before in The Dark Knight Col. Hans Landa would be my personal favorite movie villain of all time. Col Landa's actions are reprehensible but he's so much fun to have a conversation with. ("That's a BINGO!") He's so playful and smart and witty and I throughly enjoyed every minute he was on screen.

Tarantino also adds his love of movies into Inglorious Basterds as it becomes a motif throughout the entire film. Archie Hicox is an English soldier who also happens to be a film historian and discusses in length to General Ed Fenech (Mike Myers) the history of German cinema, The Basterds mole within the German society is an German actress, and Shoshanna owns a movie theater and there is interest to have Fredrick Zoller's movie shown in her hall- just name a few examples of this motif. It's very meta and nerdy of Tarantino and I love it.

One last thing I'll say about Inglourious Basterds is that it was genius of Tarantino to make most of the movie in another language. Col. Landa is awesome in three languages. I think it's a cop out (most notably in Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Scorsese's Hugo) to set a movie in another country and yet all the actors speak English. Moviegoers are smart enough and well equipped enough to handle reading subtitles. When Landa is talking to Goebbles, he appropriately talks in German. When Landa initially meets the French farmer, he appropriately talks in French. What a novel concept! I appreciated the movie much more because it was in three languages as opposed to the entire thing being in English.

Inglourious Basterds is just a classic Tarantino picture and one that anyone can enjoy. He re-writes history that only Quentin Tarantino can and for that we here at Game Of Inches thank him by putting this 2009 epic #3 on our list of the 25 Greatest Films In The Past 25 Years.