The World According to Ploy

August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds, or: This Is How You Do It

Despite the fact that I went to watch Valkyrie and Inglourious Basterds in theaters, I do not like World War II movies. I don’t. What is the point of watching something when you know the end? Hitler dies in a bunker, it is a fact. So when a movie comes up about a group of brave souls plotting against him, I know it’s going to be a tragic drama, which is what Valkyrie turned out to be.

I didn’t like Valkyrie much. Not only did the plot not make sense (or actually, what they were plotting didn’t make much sense), but it was too melodramatic. The only reason I watched it was because at that time, there was nothing else in the theaters.

But for Inglourious Basterds, CC, Ginger, and I practically ran into the theaters. I must admit this was because of Brad Pitt – we are, after all, fangirls at heart.

To my surprise, the movie wasn’t Brad-centric at all. Despite having him on prominent display on the poster and his name, if I remember correctly, listed first, his role isn’t the most interesting. Sure, Brad Pitt’s Aldo “The Apache” Raine was funny, amusing in both his violence, hillbilly accent, and ridiculous attempt at posing as an Italian stuntman, but the stage goes to Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, the SS leader aka “Jew Hunter”

Waltz was, at once, funny, amusing, cruel, and crazy. Towards the ending, when he says, “That’s just bingo!” (before Aldo the Apache corrects him, “We just say bingo”), Landa was even cute.

My favorite character was Til Schweiger as Hugo Stiglitz, a former Nazi soldier turned the Basterds’ resident psycho killer. He’s quiet, sadistic…but in the tavern scene, we see that he also has a sense of humor.

At two and a half hours, yes, this is a long movie. The fact that it has more talk than action might make it seem even longer. Nevertheless, the dialogue, while not extremely snappy, is meaningful. Every word, every gesture, means something. To me, the dialogue felt like a fuse that was burning…but you didn’t know when the fuse was going to end and the bomb was going to explode.

It’s a war film without a frontline. It’s a war film without hundreds of soldiers in bunkers.

Inglourious Basterds, however, is what a war film should be.

You’d probably have heard this by now, so I’ll just say it: Hitler dies. Tarantino rewrites history completely, and since this is his film, he can. The fact that Hitler dies also makes me love this movie. I knew from the preview there’s going to be a great explosion scene…but I thought that maybe, perhaps, Hitler will have escaped, because he ‘needs’ to die in a bunker. But no…The theater is consumed by fire and two of the Basterds (played by Eli Roth and Omar Doom) are machine-gunning the scrambling Nazis to oblivion. It’s violent, verging on sadistic. But it is, somehow, exhilarating….not because of the screaming dying people…but because the fac that here’s one director who doesn’t give a damn about history and will do what he does.

Quentin Tarantino does it right. Inglourious Basterds is how you do it.

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