During World War II, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) leads his squad of Jewish American soldiers into France with one key objective in mind – it kill the enemy, and by very violent means as well. They call themselves the Basterds, and soon gain themselves infamy and fear throughout the entire German army. In Paris, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) owns a cinema that just so happens to have been selected to host the premiere of one of Joseph Goebbel’s propaganda films, and with all of the German high command, including Hitler, expected to be in attendance, it seems like the perfect opportunity for Aldo and his men to strike and end the war. In accordance with this, venue owner Shosanna has plans of her own. When she discovers that the man who killed her family before her very eyes, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), will also be there, she decides that it would be an ideal time to avenge the murders of her loved ones.
With his 6th film, Inglorious Basterds, QT took on the war genre, and it turned out to be the most audience-dividing film of his. On one hand, some believe it to be his best to date, and the film where he reached artistic maturity. On the other, and I fit into this category, others would say that, actually, Inglorious Basterds boasts a distinct lack of Tarantinoness. There are patches where the director reverts back to his much-loved, more traditional ways, but unfortunately at 153 minutes long, patches aren’t enough. That’s not to say that it’s is a bad film, just that those expecting full-on Tarantino may be slightly disappointed.
However, what the man did get bang-on as per usual was the cast. Brad Pitt was awesome as the no-nonsense army lieutenant, Aldo Raine. Pitt took on a tone that meant you just knew he wasn’t going to take any prisoners. At the beginning of the film, he announced to his men that he wanted 100 Nazi scalps off of each of them, and by the way they were going on, I don’t imagine they’d have been far off that target. He was ruthless, and it was between him and the next actor through which Tarantino shone the most.
One thing the world cannot criticise this film for is the fact that it introduced us all to the world-class actor that is Christoph Waltz. He is an absolute weapon when it comes to acting, and it was in Inglorious Basterds that he proved this on the world stage. Waltz was terrific as Hans Landa, and whilst the man he played was a frightful character, Waltz had a strangely majestic air about him. He was, as I have found he often is, a joy to watch.
Now, this is my least favourite Tarantino film for the reason that it’s not very Tarantino-esque. There is a bit of the brutal violence, but as for the razor-sharp dialogue and outrageous humour that are the staple ingredients of one of his films, there’s not an awful lot of that. However the other thing that would deter me no matter what is the fact that the majority of the film is in German and French. I struggle with subtitles when there is a lot of action, and what helped even less was that fact that you weren’t given a great deal of time to read them and often missed half the dialogue that was being spoken.
Overall, I would say that if you’re not a die-hard Tarantino fan like myself, you might want to give Inglorious Basterds a miss – it’s not necessarily a bad film, but it is a tricky one to watch due to the difficulties presented by the language barrier. If you are like me, perhaps take this one with a pinch of salt as, by the standards we know, you could be ever so slightly disappointed.