First things first, I am not one of those who worship Quentin Tarantino (nothing wrong with those who do but I don’t); therefore this is certainly not a biased view. Now about the film, Inglourious Basterds is bl**dy good.
Set in the 1940s, in the German occupied France, the film opens with Colonel Hans Landa aka ‘The Jew Hunter’ (Christoph Waltz) of SS (Schutzstaffel, a major Nazi organisation) interviewing a French farmer at his cottage regarding a Jewish family on the run. This long scene sets the tone of the film which is cold, sinister and at the same time entertaining. Showcased in chapters, the film is mostly in French and German, with parts in English. The director builds tension with elaborate dialogue sequences, culminating it with disturbingly graphic violence.
The film gets its title from a group of American Jewish soldiers called the ‘Basterds’, whose mission is to brutally kill as many Nazis as possible and collect their scalps as souvenirs. In the second chapter, we are introduced to the members of the group including the leader, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and Staff Sergeant Donny Donowitz aka ‘The Bear Jew’ (Eli Roth) who kills with his baseball bat. The Basterds hatch a plot to assassinate the key Nazi leaders including Hitler and Joseph Goebbels at a Nazi propaganda film premiere. Unknown to them, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), the Jewish-French owner of the movie theatre has plans of her own. Diane Kruger plays the German actress, Bridget von Hammersmark who is also a spy for Britain. There are many other important characters that help the film move forward to a tantalizing climax.
Part history, part fiction, the film is brilliantly written and directed by Tarantino and yes I am a big fan now. From the lead star cast, Christoph Waltz stands out with his demonic character; he has already won the Best Actor Award at Cannes in 2008 and is tipped to get an Oscar nod next year. Mélanie Laurent is good and so is Eli Roth, while Brad Pitt seems a little uncomfortable with the weird accent that sounds funny (maybe intentional).
Good editing, production design and cinematography are of course there but the eclectic background score deserves a special mention; you expect a piano playing during a state reception but you do not get it… Overall, Inglourious Basterds scares you and makes you laugh in equal parts; it is one of the best films I have seen this year… highly recommended if you are not put off by extreme violence.
My Rating: * * * * Four stars (on five)
– Shrey Khetarpal