Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds opens on a farm in the countryside of France; it’s a warm day, and Colonel Hans Landa of the SS (a chillingly fantastic Christoph Waltz, in the role that launched him into US stardom) and his staff storm the home of the farmer and his daughters. Landa, at first speaking French, then switching to English (all while smoking the most ridiculous pipe you’ve ever seen), speaks with uncanny calmness in accusing the docile farmer of harboring Jewish people.
At first denying this, the farmer grows nervous at Landa’s faux calmness and breaks down, admitting that he is in fact sheltering a Jewish family from the Nazis. Switching back to French, Landa feigns leaving, but instead, he signals his officers to come in and shoot the floorboards, under which Shoshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent) and her family are hiding. As the only one in her family who survives the brutal massacre, Shoshanna makes a run for it into the hills, with Landa watching with an eerie smile from afar. Shoshanna escapes, forges her papers, and begins running a movie theater in a town in Nazi-occupied France.
Interwoven with Shoshanna’s story is that of the Basterds, our primary protagonists – a rag-tag team of soldiers that have one goal: killing Nazis. Oh, and at the request of Lt. Aldo “The Apache” Raine (Brad Pitt), their fearless and Kentucky-accented leader, they owe 100 Nazi scalps. Flanked by Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz (the comedic and obnoxiously Boston-accented Hostel director Eli Roth) and the rest of the Basterds, the crew hatch a plan to kill Adolf Hitler at a showing of “Nation’s Pride,” which just so happens to be showing at Shoshanna’s theater, where – unbeknownst to the Basterds – she too is eager to kill some Nazis…
Inglourious Basterds is, in my opinion, one of the best films ever made, and one of Tarantino’s finest. The atmosphere, the acting, the soundtrack (always a strong factor of Tarantino’s films)… you just can’t go wrong.
Seeing Inglourious Basterds in the theater – as is with any and all Tarantino films – is an experience like no other.
dir. Quentin Tarantino
Screens Sunday, 7/21, 2:30pm & 8:00pm @ Brattle Theatre
Part of the ongoing series: El Mundo del Tarantino
Double Feature with The Devil’s Brigade (1968) at 5:30pm