When you think about WW2 movies you instantaneously think that the plot is either to eradicate all Nazi’s off the face of the earth or to simply Kill Hitler and his bum chums. Well this movie does not wholly differ from that notion, yet it totally differs from the norm entirely!
The Plot (in a roundabout way)
Tarantino’s Basterds (a Jewish-American revenge squad) are dropped behind enemy lines to first and foremost kill Nazi’s (100 scalps each to be precise). This seems simple enough right? Well… this is where it gets a little more complicated to explain without being that bum who coughs up the whole reason why you would go through the two and a half hour slog. However, Tarantino tries (and succeeds) to create an epic that is not a mere American V Nazi bust up (cough, Saving Private Ryan). Rather he incorporates the German film industry into the plot creating an opportunity to exploit the Nazi’s leaders from the core… that being at a German film premier… in France. Yes, now you are with me. In order for this five part plot to develop organically and not seem too forced Tarantino introduces a British captain (fluent in German), a German film star (working for the ally’s) and a french cinema owner who really hates Nazi’s (the first scene may give you the reason) to add depth and substance to the plot. The movie is structured in the five part way to yes, give depth to the characters, but to also keep the movie flowing so that Quentin’s well known jigsaw can be put together to reach the finale. However, don’t be under any illusion that the only bit of action is the finale… because trust me, it’s not.
A delve into some of the characters
As always the characters in Quentin’s movies are sublime and IB is no different. Starting with Colonel Hans Landa (the Jew hunter) of the SS played by Christoph waltz. Although the scripting is gripping and well written, Christoph truly does however mould this character from the off bringing him to life depicting the menace, intimidation, intellect and to some extent the charm all in a very real and believable way. Those associated with the SS in Nazi germany were well known to be creepy, odd and incredibly in
tense. Christoph epitomises this in each and ever one of his scenes through his delivery and his body language.
In the second part we meet Lt. Aldo Raine (AKA Gorlami!) played by Brad. A brusk southerner who has one thing on his mind… to kill Nazi’s. Brad creates a character who is truly likeable, funny and although does not have the depth of Christoph’s character, still makes a big impact in the film.
Lt. Archie Hicox, who could be a better match for a Brit tasked to disguise himself as a Nazi than Michael Fassbener? Clue… there isn’t! Possibly one of Quentin’s easiest casting decisions he has had to make in his career, Michael does not disappoint. smooth, sophisticated, charming and cool all spring to mind when describing Archie.
There are also some big female power roles present in this movie one of which is Shosanna, The cinema owner played by Melanie Laurent. Strong, no shit taking girl who is the character with arguably the biggest backstory. Her attitude towards authorities of power does not change throughout the movie rather she becomes more abrupt in dealing with those she dislikes (most notably with a certain German that decides he likes her… big mistake.)
Tarantino really pulled it out the bag with this one. His ability to captivate an audience not only through brutal action sequences but through long spells of dialogue is truly spectacular. Once again he sucks you in and immerses you into not only the brilliant characters but also the vastly distinguishable scenes that he creates. The pouring of the whisky, milk or champagne, the dollops of whipped cream, the offering of a cigarette… simple as they may seem these actions and the way he takes these shots makes you believe that you are truly there. These distinguishable scenes create an ease of reference to this brilliant film when you come out of the cinema or when you are talking about it with friends in years to come. A truly re-watchable classic. 9/10