Inglourious Basterds - Review

wogma rating: Pride of your DVD shelf (?)
quick review:

Inglourious Basterds is a gem. You cannot watch it once and leave it be. You have to turn to again, maybe a few weeks after watching it the first time, maybe after a few years again. Be rest assured you will find something new to explore and something new to enjoy.

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“This is not how it happened!”

That was my friend’s reaction to a certain scene that involved Hitler and a bunch of ‘Basterds’ sent out to kill the Dictator.

Here’s the thing about Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s latest film to have hit the screens and bagged a handful of Oscar nominations: It is not a historical. It is also not a war movie. It is a movie that refuses to fall into any category and is most certainly a piece of fiction that everyone would have wished had come true.

Inglourious Basterds is not so much about Hitler or about the fictional Lt Aldo Raine (played here by Brad Pitt) as much as it is about Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), the fictional Nazi colonel who has a nasty reputation of sniffing out Jews from their hiding places.

Raine is in fact just another player, a cog in the wheel so to say, who leads a pack of eight Jewish-American soldiers to get behind the enemy lines and kill as many German soldiers as possible. With a little luck, Raine and his band of ‘Basterds’ even hopes to bump off Hitler.

But Hitler is a big man. And a big man has a lot of enemies. As it turns out, without the Basterds’ knowing, the femme fatale Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) is also plotting to bring down the Third Reich -- not so much because she is anti-establishment but because she has some personal scores to settle with the Jew-hating Nazis.

Plots and subplots merge beautifully to the extent that at one point Shosanna’s story suddenly becomes all-important leaving behind the Basterds’ plans.

In fact the leader of the Basterds has very little to do. Brad Pitt plays what in Bollywood is referred to as ‘an extended cameo’. Sure he does a great job -- watch out for that scene where he speaks Italian -- but the truth is that the film, if it belongs to someone, it does to Christoph Waltz.

Waltz is an Austrian actor, who according to Wikipedia has primarily done German language films. Interestingly he has played the philosopher Nitzche in one of his earlier works and in his next film he plays the psychologist Sigmund Freud.

Thousands of bytes have been spent praising Waltz’s performance as the Jew Hunter so it won’t be a surprise if the man walks home with the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor. The scene to watch out for is the opening scene of the film where Waltz walks into a French dairy certain that there are a bunch of Jews hiding right below his feet. The cold, calculated and casual conversation that Waltz has with the owner of the house before coolly gunning down everyone hiding below, except one, is a scene that will be remembered for the longest time.

Yes, there is a lot of shooting, killing and bloodshed in Inglourious Basterds. But then again it is a Tarantino movie so what do you expect?

The thing about IB is that it appeals to your basest instincts. One the one hand Landa’s killings make your hair stand but also make you look at him with some amount of awe while on the other you cheer for Shosanna and Raine as they inhumanly go about their plans. But like all Tarantino’s movies, this one too takes blood and gore to a different level, raising it (god help me for saying this) to a level of art.

This is because Tarantino is a gifted artist. He loves movies and you can see it in every frame. Tarantino pays tribute to popular English films through his background score as also to the expressionist movement playing on archetypes such as the Lady in Red.

Inglourious Basterds is a brilliant movie. But chances are you will enjoy it more if you’ve been watching Hollywood movies over the decades. To draw a parallel -- Om Shanti Om will probably make you laugh even if you don’t know what the hell Bollywood is all about. But if you know your Barjatya from Maoj Kumar OSO is a gem you will want to have in your collection.

To twist Shrek’s quote, Inglourious Basterds is like an onion… it’s got layers.

This review is by guest reviewer Sanjeev Kumar Singh. Sanjeev Kumar Singh watches films by day and sings songs in the night. During his spare time he tells everyone willing to listen how he could not have asked for a better name.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: lots of it
  • Language: abuses and slang abundantly used
  • Nudity & Sexual content: some suggestive references but not overt
  • Concept: a wishful thinking of a creative mind
  • General Look and Feel: rugged, cheeky, bold

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 5
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 5
  • Dialogues: 4
  • Screenplay: 5
  • Music Director: 5
  • Lyrics: N/A

Inglourious Basterds - Movie Details

Inglourious Basterds - Trailer

Comments (3)

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Rahul:

Let's see - "The thing about IB is that it appeals to your basest instincts." "OSO is a gem you will want to have in your collection".

First of all, I find the idea of IB appealing to your basest instincts quite revolting. It is a brilliant movie, no doubt, but I would disagree with the fact that there was pleasure to be drawn from the massacres in the film. One could reflect upon them for sure - but to draw pleasure from them is a bridge too far.

As for OSO - yes it was an enjoyable watch but I have no idea why you would call it a gem that you must have in your collection. When it comes to comedies, the all time classics like the Munnabhai series, Hera Pheri (only the first one) and Jaane bhi do yaaron are the ones I would recommend to anyone or keep in my collection. Certainly not OSO.

Rahul:

@Vishal - Meetu, as far as I know, does not review Hollywood movies.

meetu:

@Vishal, @Rahul, @Ruchita On basic feedback of wogma reviewer I've decided to avoid guest reviewers as much as possible.

Sanjeev has written a couple more reviews which i'll publish in a day or two, but that's it.

I'll try my best to review as many movies as I can, but I think i can do justice only to Hindi and Marathi movies for now. Will try to do more.

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