The highly anticipated new installment from Quentin Tarantino has finally hit Australia, and folks, this is one movie you have got to go see on the big screen so don’t read any further until you have!
Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, we follow the story of various characters, some Jewish, some just plain angry, seeking their own personal revenge upon Nazi troops - the word ‘story’ being the operative word here. Viewers will discover that the film has been divided into chapters, with the first of these even stating “Once Upon A Time…”.
At this moment, we are reminded this is merely a story of fictional characters set loose in a real moment of history, where anything can happen.
With QT being the puppet master, prepare to be shocked/satisfied with exaggerated violence and black humour, such as a scene opening with an ECU of a scalping. I havn’t flinched so much since I watched Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou.
Yes, it’s violent. But it’s a revenge story, set in WW2, created by Tarantino. That’s a winning combination. But as QT once famously said, “You don’t go see a Tarantino movie and not expect to see violence, alright? That’s like going to a Metallica concert and asking the fuckers to turn the music down!"
But these aren’t cheap shots designed to just make you gasp or repel. They strike in the midst of calm - emphasizing on the war’s sudden brutality that was always lurking beneath the surface. Additionally, it demonstrated the sacrifices and devotion the characters lived and died by.
It’s messy and bloody but the story is tight, succinct and superbly cast. Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent are fine actors, their deceptively cool demeanors designed to shock and taunt, while mainstream celebrity appearances from Mike Myers and Brad Pitt, surprisingly, don’t deter the focus as one may expect, but rather, bring characters to life by injecting the film with a refreshing bout of humour, with Pitt managing to grab most of the laughs - particularly when expressing his dislike towards fighting in basements.
Reflecting the various cultures effected by the war, the film contains multilingual dialogue, ranging from English to subtitled French and German (and a fourth if you want to count Pitt's delightfully tragic Italian. “Bonjourno…?”).
If you’re quick, you’ll also discover QT has paid homage to various cinematic styles and references that provides a fresh, kooky new way of telling a story based on a familiar issue.
On-screen animation of names and freeze frames echo gritty 60’s television programs while the score of Leonie-esque spaghetti western music playing upon the “Bear Jew”s’ arrival gives a nauseating expectation of gore. QT has fine tuned our sense of hearing - not even Bob Dylan was safe.
Using these graphics can be distracting as they noticeably ‘pull’ viewers out of the world their watching. QT indulges in not only directing his crew, but audiences aswell. Occasionally, there’ll be arrows, circles and names scribbled on the screen. At one point, we’re even given a brief history lesson on the flammable qualities of celluloid film by the narrative voice of Samuel L. Jackson.
Again, this all aids to building the suspense for the anticipated “Operation Kino” against Nazi troops while highlighting the fictional qualities of the film. Peeking glances at a blueprint reminds you it’s just a construction.
Direct references include mention of 1929 silent film, Pitz Palü plus an assortment of movie posters adorning the cinema walls such as La Assassin Habite au 21. More pronounced references are exemplified in German director G.W Pabsts’ appearance in the form of a guessing game, or the Max Linder film festival and how Private Zoller “always preferred him over Chaplin.”
However, staying true to the stylistic path he forged for himself, Tarantino mirrors the techniques of his own works. Admittedly written around the time of Kill Bill, the similarities are expectedly uncanny, displaying QT’s love for double agents (another being scandalous Mata Hari, whose name adorns another game card).
Like Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds actively avoids having a protagonist, displaying how a single story can have several prime characters.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Mexican Standoff while you’re at it - that’s where several characters are aiming weapons at each other at the same time. Pulp Fiction’s was in the diner with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, aswell as Resevoir Dogs climatic ending. Heck, even True Romance had one!
And while on the topic of QT style, be prepared for shell shock. Clocking in at nearly 3 hours, this genius always knows how to keep a story progressing without ever being predictable, and he will play with your expectations along the way.
The very notion of watching a frightening mass murder in a cinema (with Shosanna's face that seemed eerily familiar to a cackling Carrie), while being in a cinema, made the horrific ordeal seem as realistic as much as it was extravagant, setting his film apart from any WW2 movie you’ve ever grabbed onto with all your wiener schnitzel lickin’ fingers.
This may just be one of the finest films for ‘09. I’ll bet my sauerkraut sandwich on it.