Saturday, December 12, 2009


By Reymundo Salao

Well it’s about time that this movie got here in the Philippines. And may I add that the tardiness of this movie’s release meant that there’s a whole bunch of you out there who already watched this movie from bootleg sources. On the other hand, I should note that this is one movie best seen at the movie theater along with your barkada, in order to fully enjoy it.

Inglourious Basterds is about a rag-tag group of irreverent soldiers who are out to hunt and brutally kill each and every Nazi they can find, and the setting is World War 2, in Nazi-occupied France. While the title may seem to refer specifically to a group, the focus of the story really revolves around several characters. There’s our designated villain named Col. Hans Landa, who is known as “the Jew Hunter” and quite self explanatorily that is what he does, and excels in it. We also have Shosana, also known as Emmanuelle, who is a survivor of a massacre, and the young German soldier who is attracted to her. And then there’s the Basterds which feels more like either a plot device, or more like a background larger-than-life group of characters which move the story in place.

If you think all Quentin Tarantino movies are like Kill Bill part 1 and expect his movies to be a gorefest with a large amount of action scenes, you may be very disappointed (I know Kill Bill is probably the only widely popular film many are familiar with). Tarantino’s power in film-making actually relies on his smart and witty dialogues, which he employs in all of his movies (not so much with Kill Bill 1 though). Expect in advance that more of what made this movie thrilling is the conversational aspect of it. Tarantino creates his dialogues like how actual conversations take place, these conversations may become bizarre or all of a sudden irrelevant, but they still hold up as a convincing exchange of meaningful thoughts between two actual persons. Do not be the kind of audience who just waits for the next action scene and then re-focus your attention. Because you may end up waiting long and may render you impatient, the movie really focuses more on the storyline rather than the action. And indeed, it has a storyline that may seem like a very simple vengeance story, but there is a sort of subliminal deep meaning behind it, there is a thought-provoking aspect of who are the real bad guys are, who are the real evil, and who could be trusted, and the idea that everything may not be as what it appears to be; be it Nazi, Jew, nice guy, and bad guy. But don’t get me wrong, there are action scenes in this movie, and the action scenes also carry an explosive amount of spice, but the real meat of the movie is found in the dialogues and the story itself.

Speaking of dialogues, almost 80 percent of the movie’s dialogues are subtitled dialogues (not unless of course you speak German and French). Perhaps that is one factor of the movie which may turn off some audiences who are just lazy to read subtitles. But I’m sure many of you anime fanatics out there are quite used to subtitled movies/shows, so it could not be much of a problem. May I add, though, that the dialogues and the story itself are too good that you really would not mind the dialogue aspect and would make you enjoy the movie regardless of this minor factor.

The second thing Tarantino is best known for is his knack for making references to a vast knowledge of obscure film styles ranging from B-movies, to classic genre films. The movie itself is more of a remake and an homage to the original 1978 movie “The Inglorious Bastards” which also has the same essence, but the original version was more of an obvious Dirty Dozen rip-off. Note the intentional mis-spell of Tarantino’s movie title; he pays homage to the usual mis-spellings of 80’s (mostly Italian) World War 2 B-movies. This movie gives a bit of distinction from the original version, which almost embraces the fact that this is not an absolute remake, and is actually a separate movie on its own. And at the same time, also makes you curious about the original movie.

In noting on Tarantino’s knack for paying homages, Inglourious Basterds do have its share of references; fortunately, most of them blend well with the story and does not disrupt the easy flow of the storyline, and the movie does earn its own right on being something original itself . The more obvious reference relies on the music which underlines Tarantino’s attitude towards the movie, which he treats like a “spaghetti western” set in World War 2 France. On the other hand, I was not quite impressed by Tarantino’s use of the very same Ennio Morricone score that he used in Kill Bill as well. There are many Morricone scores out there that would have been more “glouriously appropriate” for this movie.

This movie is obviously not historically accurate. The goofy portrayal of Hitler in the trailers is already a clear indication that this is not the kind of movie made for History classes. It may be a great educational film screening if it’s for artistic and film appreciation purposes, but not for History lessons. And because it is not supposed to be historically accurate, Tarantino could have freedom in what to do with the characters. He has the freedom to make Hitler look goofy as he wants him to be, likewise he could have Winston Churchill in the movie. Oh, look out for comedian Mike Myers in one scene; because when you find out that it’s him, you’ll be giggling all throughout his scene. Speaking of the cast, which did a great job, I should emphasize that I was greatly impressed by Christoph Waltz who did an outstanding performance as the main villain (which if you ask me, really is the main character of this movie) Hans Landa, the Jew hunter. Each onscreen moment with him is electric and a kind of performance which may be compared only with as good a performance as Kevin Spacey’s in Se7en, and Heath Ledger in Dark Knight.

All in all, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a superb Tarantino movie. It balances the smartness and the violence well enough. It is irreverently fun and playfully wicked. I give it my two thumbs up.


SirNicolay said...

Excellent review. Kill Bill (if you take into account that vol.1 and vol.2 are just one movie after all), the witty dialogue shines mostly in vol.2; vol.1 is more homage to Japanese and Chinese (Bruce Lee) cinema and culture and the focus is more on action and soundtrack where Tarantino also excel in his films. I actually like Kill Bill vol.1 mostly because it's just bloody fun to watch. Tarantino's fondness for B-films and Asian movies are evident here.

Inglorious Basterds kept me at the edge of my seat. That long scene in the pub with the actress and the German soldier was INCREDIBLE. And of course, the starting scene/dialogue is vintage Tarantino. :D

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