Inglourious Basterds Review

Review of Inglourious Basterds which attempts a balanced approach to the film. Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is a good film, though not without fault. Here are the positives and negatives of Inglourious Basterds.

Inglourious Basterds Cover

Positives

The film develops an incredible sense of tension. Violence is fast and every character feels vulnerable, partially due to Tarantino having no problem killing characters unexpectedly for the sake of the film. However, the precise manner in which Tarantino manages to do this remains illusive. Perhaps it is partially due to the wonderfully effective opening. Maybe Christoph Waltz’s portrayal of Hans Landa as a cunning and ruthless detective is part of it. However, this tension manages to exist even in scenes without Hans Landa such as the tavern scene, so it is hard to tell exactly how it works.

Inglourious Basterds Motorbikes

In terms of visuals, there is a strange beauty about the film with some wonderful camera work that does not draw attention to itself. The opening scenes in the French countryside have that kind of cinematography that is enjoyable to watch even outside of a plot.

Inglourious Basterds France

Sound design and music is great in the film as well, working together with the visuals to create tension followed by sudden violence. The conversations are not whispers, but are best described as discrete. When violence does come, the sound is chunky and heavy. It must have been great for the sound crew working on this film. Every so often you have a film that just seems to have a clear sound of its own and Inglourious Basterds is one of them.

Negatives

The film has a certain level of subtlety, but it is definitely a Tarantino film. Ultimately, even outside of being a Tarantino movie, how subtle can a western set in Nazi occupied France truly be? For people looking for a World War 2 film in the vein of Saving Private Ryan this is not it. There is no truly sad scene where a hero sacrifices, which in a way is the point.

For more sensitive viewers that catch the underlying message it may be a little rough associating Nazis with Cowboys even if the comparison is conceptually fair. Furthermore, comparing the Allies to Nazi Germany is just a little off. Yes, the binary oppositional developed between Germans and Allies in many WW2 stories is probably a little unfair but at the same time it really was for the best that they lost the war.

Conclusion

Inglourious Basterds is a good film particularly for those who like Tarantino. For people searching for a subtle and respectful WW2 drama, this is not it at all.

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