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Inglourious Basterds – Review

It’s been a long time coming, and here it finally is: my Inglourious Basterds review.

Very (in my opinion) minor spoilers throughout (though I don’t know your level of paranoia so don’t hold me responsible if you feel spoiled).

First, some comments about the extremely poor marketing made for this film.

The official description of the movie is something akin to “a bunch of American soldiers go on a rampage by scalping a few hundred Nazis in France during the WW2 Occupation.”
Newsflash: this is not at all what the movie is about.
I haven’t seen a title this misleading since Epic Movie.

Truth is, the film doesn’t really center on the self-proclaimed “Inglourious Basterds”, nor Brad Pitt really.
Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, and perhaps even Diane Kruger, have more screen-time than Pitt.

The trailer also kinda shows you almost all the action in the movie.
I think there was like 10ish minutes of Nazi-killing tops.
That out of a 2h40 movie (the version that will come out in theathers should be around 2h).

Basically, this film is a talkie. And I mean really.
It’s more Kill Bill: Volume 2 than Kill Bill: Volume 1 if you know what I’m talking about.
Expect lots of (I thought great) dialogue throughout.
Some ran a tad long, although I believe this problem will be fixed for the official release.
If you don’t like Tarantino dialogue, this movie isn’t for you.

If you don’t like subtitles, this movie isn’t for you either.
Indeed, I would guess about 70% or more of the film is not in English, rather in German or in French.

I’m sure some of you have read the leaked script from last year, so you might already know that the film is divided into 5 chapters:
1) Once Upon a Time… in Nazi-Occupied France
2) Inglorious Basterds
3) German Night in Paris
4) Operation Kino
5) Revenge of the Giant Face

There are descriptions of each chapter on the web if you’re interested, although the names are already pretty self-explanatory (except maybe the last one or three).

Again, the Basterds are overall a minor part of the plot, and serve more as some big Deus Ex Machina than anything else.
We get to meet them in the second chapter, but their reign of terror is already established.
One might expect the movie to be about how they had achieved such a scare-inducing presence amongst the Nazis, or show them arriving in France and all that.
Turns out, not at all.

On the other hand, what is strongly present is the amount of meta jokes in the movie.
At one point in the film (won’t say when), a French and a German are talking, and the German says: “I ask your permission to switch to English for the remainder of the conversation.”
Also, you’ve probably heard of the final line of the movie.
If not, I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say it has a very strong meta-quality to it and one might think echoes Tarantino’s stance on the movie.

There were some rumors going on around that a whole chapter (the third one) was going to be in “French New Wave Black and White” like Tarantino describes it in his script.
Not at all the case.
At one point there is a film-within-the-film (shot by Eli Roth) and therefore in black and white.
Problem is, there’s so much big deal made out of it, it turns out it’s barely shown.
Even worse, it’s not even an homage to the French New Wave but clearly more of an Italian Neorealism-type film.
If you’re going to make references to cinematic movements, learn what they are first.

My favorite chapter is probably “Once Upon a Time… in Nazi-Occupied France” (this time an homage to Spaghetti Westerns, hence the chapter’s name).
I think it epitomizes the movie in many ways.
Great acting (especially from Christoph Waltz), great dialogue, and great shots.

But beyond that, the movie just seems like a long mess leading to a bigger mess (this one literal).

The rushed editing doesn’t help either.
Tarantino and the Weinsteins were obviously trying to finish the damn thing for the festival.
I’m also hoping he changes the opening credits, which was just some basic text using fonts from his previous films (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, etc.).
As for the music, nothing ground-breaking there either.
I thought the soundtrack was, unlike his other movies, a pretty minor part of the film here and poorly used.

Keep in mind that the version I saw was the one shown at the Cannes Festival and had a 2h40 length.
I’m pretty sure most of these problems (the editing/feel of the movie, long scenes, the music, the opening credits) will be addressed with a 40 or so minutes cut before the official release.

I had read the first chapter before seeing the movie so I kinda knew that the film wasn’t going to really be centered on the Inglourious Basterds.
Ergo, I wasn’t disappointed on that part.
Also, I love Tarantino’s dialogues.

Just don’t expect to see a 2-hour Nazi-scalping film.

I’m looking forward to the more laid-back (and final) version of Inglourious Basterds coming out mid-August.

One Comment

  1. this doesn't look quite as twisted as Tarantino's other work… maybe it would be worth giving a try

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