Inglourious Basterds hinges on ‘good and evil’, and blithely depicts evil actions as good. Oh, btw, I may ruin this movie for you. Sorry. ;)
One moment has stuck with me:
The climatic, slow-motion scene shows Jewish soldiers firing from a balcony into a crowd of unarmed people (Nazis and their associates) who are trying to flee. It reminded me of scenes from Schindler’s List. The people below seethe like rats as they are slaughtered from above.
I get the impression Tarantino intends this scene to be cathartic. But it doesn’t balance against the Nazi brutality that it follows, it just mirrors it. And, unlike the Nazi violence, there is no consequence. I am not necessarily offended by the depiction of the violence, so much as the insinuation that it is right and need not, in this movie, be matched by any sort of consequence.
So, the movie is morally bankrupt and should disgust the right-minded. …
It is, however, shitloads of fun and, arguably, cinematically perfect.
The film’s heroes are the Inglorious Basterds. Led by Brad Pitt, they are a motley crew hunting Nazis behind enemy lines. As you would expect, the brutal treatment they mete out is depicted in loving detail.
The cinematic aspects of it are brilliant. The story is really exciting. The acting is sensational. The casting is sublime. It must be in line for Oscars for cinematography. The scenes are fraught with cinematic tension. The good actors make you love them and the Nazis make you hate them. The pacing of the story is perfect to build tension and release it. If you take it on Tarantino’s terms, it’s a perfect film.
I enjoyed myself and I wish I could keep my stupid moral judgments out of it. I would rather look back on Inglourious Basterds fondly.
So why am I being such a pain in the arse about it? It’s only a movie! Don’t I know how to have fun?
Instead of creating an artificial war, Tarantino creates an alternative history. Using a partly real backdrop buys credibility. It buys emotional and dramatic gravitas. But the credibility is not free. The movie must pay – by dealing with the reality of that scenario.
Germans are not like aliens, zombies, characters in Kill Bill, or comic-book henchmen, where I cheer for every one that dies. And the movie recognises this. There are elements of moral balance. But, once the movie strays from schlock action and into a world of right and wrong, it can’t do a half-job.
US Armed Forces have been engaging in torture and extrajudicial killing in the Middle East. I don’t like it. Right-thinking people believe it is wrong. So when Brad Pitt smilingly says “we’re not in the business of taking prisoners”, you cringe and wait for the come-uppance. And you wait and wait.
If you’ve made it to here in this review, you’re probably inclined to engage with these issues, and there’s a fair chance you’ll also be a bit disturbed by the movie. But hey, I still recommend it. Not every movie can deliver such complex righteous indignation. 5/5 moral qualms.