This weekend I was one of the many who went to see Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
The movie begins in the idyllic French countryside at the home of a dairy farmer and his three daughters. Down the country road rumble the Nazi soldiers led by the much dreaded Col. Hans ‘Jew Hunter’ Landa (a terrific Christoph Waltz). Landa believes the farmer is illegally harboring the Jewish Dreyfus family.
After a most menacing interview, the poor farmer tearfully points to the floor where the family is hiding. The Nazi soldiers riddle the floor with bullets, but the young daughter, Shosanna Dreyfus, crawls out from under the house and begins to run. The startled girl is shaken and covered in blood, but she runs for her life across the countryside. Landa runs out of the house and looks like he has a shot at her, but lets her go with a smirk and a smile.
The antithesis to the Nazis, are the “Basterds,” a group of Nazi-scalping soldiers led by the charismatic Lt. wisegolfers Aldo Raine (a very funny Brad Pitt). The “Basterds” were assembled to create an atmosphere of terror throughout the Third Reich. They scalp all of their kills and carve a swastika in the head of the few they let free. Basically, a violent group of warriors that take tremendous pride in, and receive tremendous pleasure from, their work.
Through a magical twist of fate the “Basterds,” a now adult Shosanna Dreyfus, and every major Nazi officer-including Hitler and the dreaded ‘Jew Hunter’-cross paths at an illustrious movie premiere. The events that unfold are truly explosive and surprising.
This movie is typical Tarantino with a lot of humor, bloodshed and jaw-dropping shockers. To me, it isn’t as brilliant as “Pulp Fiction,” but it’s pretty damn close.
There are many parts that are astonishingly wonderful and they all contain either Brad Pitt or Christoph Waltz. These two actors carry this movie and the excellent part is they have very little screen time together. When they finally do, the payoff is a feast for the eyes. I’m not usually a fan of Brad Pitt, but I honestly believe this to be some of his best work. He really embodies the role, which makes it a joy to watch.
Unfortunately, along with the positives of typical Tarantino, there are also the negatives. Many scenes drag on far too long, which wreaked havoc on my two-second attention span. If Mr. Tarantino could’ve cut down on the grandiose prose just a tiny bit, the movie would have been that much tighter and that much more pleasurable to watch. In addition, the majority of the movie is spoken in French or German, which means you have to read over 50% of the film. My eyes were exhausted by the ending credits.
Bottom line: Not as great as “Pulp Fiction,” but pretty damn close. Excellent performances by Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt.