Inglourious Basterds

Two people are dead in the projectionist room of a movie theater after “shooting” one another. In the next room, a German occupied auditorium watches the images of the pistoled pair posthumously proceed them as they play out on film to the big screen. A fire breaks out and through the smoke, you can see a ghost live on in projection’s amorphous immortality. This image spoke wonders to the importance of film which, in Tarantino’s literal take, had a large part in ending WWII.

Zoller, the first to die in the projection room, in (film) reality was a humble, sheepish, honorable kid who just wanted to woo Shosanna, the uh second to die in the projection room. But the character of Zoller portrayed (by himself no less) in the film within a film playing as he was laying dead was not Zoller at all, it was a barbarous, ruthless Nazi. And when we watch “Nation’s Pride” in our 21st century college classes on the propaganda produced by UFA studios for the Third Reich, which Zoller do you think we’ll see?

Much of the film is concerned with revisionism; as the character of Zoller demonstrates: we might not have got it all right and in Tarantino’s opinion, we owe a lot of that to film. So Tarantino himself, like a master filmmaker, slyly proves this point promptly and as a result of this, I hear a girl in my theater utter in the most matter of fact way, “I didn’t know Hitler died in a movie theater”. To Tarantino, the immortality of film will always give the filmmaker The Last Laugh and the fact that Tarantino can wield a strip of 35mm as expertly as The Bear Jew does his baseball bat, that makes him all powerful.

Another big theme presented in Inglourious Basterds is identity and it is epitomized by a scene in which a group of characters play a guessing game with a pack of cards. A band of allied characters are undercover and must trick a keen, observant SS officer into thinking they are Nazis and the SS officer, likewise must put up a facade to confirm his suspicions of their peculiarity and trap them in their lie . Meanwhile they each have a card on their forehead of a famous personage and the whole point is to guess who is who and who knows it. Let the games begin. What ensues is a suspenseful thrill-ride that slowly sheds the blitheness of the card game, but conserves its core  simplistic principals with regard to deducting identity.

This would probably be a good time to introduce The Basterds, America’s own propaganda machine and Tarantino’s film-exclusive creation who have, in tandem with the actual film stock, a very direct and considerable part to play in the end of the war. I think it would be safe to say that the Basterds themselves represent American film during WWII and the part it played.

And the leader of this all American aggregation of scalping soldiers is a paragon of the ideals presented in the film (identity and revisionism). Lt. Aldo Raine, donning scars of identity on his own neck and who can’t muster up an Italian accent if the war depended on it, is obsessed with “marking” those who were Nazis with a Swastika on the forehead. He does this so there will be no revisionism, so it is made clear the identity of those who were Nazis and that symbol would be the card they would wear on their heads for the rest of their lives. So when Colonel Landa requires, as part of his terms of surrender, that he be written in as an American hero when he had been anything but, you could imagine Raine’s opinion of all the revisionsims what was goin’ on and what he did by the end to make things right the simple way what he seen it the only what way he did know how. This is the final stamp that Tarantino puts on Landa through Raine, his embodiment of film. A masterpiece indeed.


One Response to “Inglourious Basterds”

  1. i like war movies and inglourious basterds is one of the movies that i really love *:`

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