Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inglourious Basterds

Initially, I planned to watch a corny '80s movie with bad special effects on Friday night, but I had been wanting to see Inglourious Basterds ever since it came out so I happily changed plans when I saw that it was on TV. Based on all of the commercials and trailers I had seen, I expected Basterds to be three hours of nazi blood and guts spewing willy nilly. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find a compelling story with just the right amounts of violence, humor, sadness and fantasy. I really liked how Basterds took a well-known subject (WWII) and made it fresh and new without being tasteless.

Although Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and the members of his elite nazi-fighting crew do seem a bit bloodthirsty and lacking in emotional depth, I feel that more complex personalities and personal histories might have taken some of the fun out of the movie. Furthermore, the film more than makes up for the slightly cartoonish performances by the Basterds crew by providing very chilling and emotional moments elsewhere. One such instance is the opening sequence where a French dairy farmer is suspected of harboring Jews in his home. The mood and feelings in this scene are poignant and deeply affecting. Moments such as this help ground the film and explain some of the extreme actions. One thing that helps make this scene and others so great is Christoph Waltz's portrayal of Hans Landa (a.k.a. The Jew Hunter). Landa's combination of determination, cunning and sinister nature make for a terrifying and unforgettable character (he's like an evil nazi Sherlock Holmes).

My only real problem (and it's actually not that much of a problem depending on how you look at it) with Inglourious Basterds was the last ten minutes or so of the movie. Up until this point, the film had been very polished and restrained, but in the last ten minutes I feel like somebody cranked the volume up to the max; the drama, the violence, the blood and the departure from historical facts increased significantly. This wasn't necessarily bad, but it definitely surprised me, and I thought it had a different feel than the rest of the movie.

Overall, I think that Inglourious Basterds was a strange and interesting concept executed brilliantly. If you don't mind a little blood, violence and historical fiction, it's a great film that I definitely recommend watching.

p.s. apparently, Quentin Tarantino wrote the script for this movie a long time ago, but he struggled for many years with how to end it. Maybe that explains why the ending seems different than the rest of the film.

p.p.s. I guess Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for his role as Hans Landa... that shows how much I follow the Academy Awards. Good for him though; I obviously think he deserves it.


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