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I find it strange how a film can affect you. Perhaps however it wasn’t the film, perhaps it was director Quentin Tarantino whose latest release, “Inglourious Basterds” made me think about film like I hadn’t before.
Basterds has been in Tarantino’s head for years. He first began writing this around 2003 but couldn’t satisfy himself with a suitable ending so put the project on hold. In 2005 he was quoted saying that the script needed converting to a shooting script, that writing the script and preparing a shooting script were “two different things”.
Roll on 2008 and storyboards and dialogue appear on the internet and in film magazines and excitement brews. At Cannes Film Festival the film’s ending split critics and rumours circulated that producer Harvey Weinstien wanted to cut forty minutes from the running time. And now, in 2009, the film gets released and proves a box office success just when the Weinstien company needed it.
The opening chapter is titled “Once Upon A Time…In Nazi Occupied France”, suggesting that this isn’t going to be what you’d expect, this is more a what-if, a fairy-tale of sorts. Right from the off QT pulls the rug from under us. We expect bloody violence, instead we are treated to a twenty minute interrogation of a French farmer who may be harbouring Jews. What this proves to those of us who needed convincing, is the sheer talent that Tarantino has with his words and its topped off by an incredible performance from “The Jew Hunter”, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) – which has to be a tip for an Oscar, even this early!
The Basterds of who the film is named are a bunch of Jewish soldiers led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) whose sole aim is to kill Nazis, but Raine also demands a hundred Nazi scalps from his soldiers. These renegade soldiers plan on taking out the Nazis at a German propaganda film premiere but the Jewish cinema owner (Melanie Laurent), has plans for revenge herself.
Tarantino said this was going to be as much of a war film as it is Spaghetti Western and this is true, it is also as much a comedy as it is a drama. As the film comes to its climax I found myself chuckling more and more. Tarantino throwing convention out the window once again and bringing us something unique.
I can’t write about a Tarantino film and not mention the soundtrack. Once again QT brings us some amazing tunes that really capture the essence of the action on the screen. Collaborating again with Ennio Morricone for a number of tracks the sounds really underline the film. Just listening to the soundtrack on its own you can re-watch the film in your mind. Truly spectacular sound editing once more.
Which bring me back to wondering just how films or indeed QT films can affect us. As I sat in the theatre watching this release I thought to myself throughout that this was only OK. That it was better than “Jackie Brown” in the Tarantino scale of films, perhaps it was on par with “Kill Bill Vol. 2.” But once the end credits rolled and I reflected upon it as a whole, I can’t help but think it was actually incredible. Tarantino said he hoped people would go back to the cinema for repeat viewings and I for one can honestly say I am going to do that.