This articles contains indepth information about Quentin Tarantino's 2009 war film, Inglourious Basterds.
is a 2009 war film written and directed by Quentin
Tarantino and released in August 2009 by The Weinstein Company and Universal
Pictures. It was filmed in several locations, among them Germany and France,
beginning in October 2008. The title of the film was inspired by Italian
director Enzo Castellari's 1978 movie The Inglorious Bastards, but it is
not a remake of that film, being set in Nazi-occupied France during World War
II, and depicting a plan to assassinate the Nazi leadership.
Tarantino has repeatedly stressed that despite its
being a war film, the movie is his "spaghetti western but with World War II
iconography". In addition to spaghetti westerns, the film also pays homage
to the World War II "macaroni combat" sub-genre (itself heavily influenced by
spaghetti-westerns), as well as French New Wave cinema.
Inglourious Basterds was accepted into the main selection at the 62nd
Cannes Film Festival in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or and had its
world premiere there in May. It was the only U.S. film to win an award at Cannes
that year, earning a Best Actor award for Christoph Waltz.
The film is set in an alternate history of the
Second World War in which the entire top leadership of Nazi Germany, namely
Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and Bormann attend a film premiere in Paris
celebrating the exploits of a German sniper who had managed to kill 300 American
soldiers in Italy. The timeframe of the film is set in early June 1944, after
the D-Day landings but before the liberation of Paris.
The film tracks the separate attempts to kill Hitler by two disparate forces,
one being the "Basterds", a motley crew of Jewish American soldiers out for
revenge against the Nazis. The Basterds have a modus operandi whereby each man
must cut off the scalp of a dead Nazi soldier with orders to get 100 scalps in
total. The Basterds allow one German soldier to survive each incident so as to
spread the news of the terror of their attacks. However, the Basterds carve a
swastika into the forehead of that German. The other force concerns Shosanna,
the only Jewish survivor of an attack led by the "Jew Hunter" that had killed
all her family. The Basterds and Shosanna remain unaware of each other
throughout the film.
The film opens with Colonel Landa, (Christoph Waltz), of the Waffen-SS, proudly
known as the "Jew Hunter", interrogating Perrier LaPadite, a French dairy
farmer, over rumours that he had been hiding a Jewish family, the Dreyfus. Landa
manages to break down LaPadite and locates the hiding place of the Jews
underneath the floorboards. He orders his soldiers to fire into the floorboards
in order to kill the Jews.
Shosanna, (Mélanie Laurent), manages to survive the attack and emerges to assume
the identity of "Emmanuelle Mimieux". How she manages to do so is never
revealed. She had also become the proprietress of a cinema, which is chosen by
Frederick Zoller, (Daniel Brühl), the spotlight-hungry sniper whose exploits are
celebrated in the Nazi propaganda film, "A Nation's Pride", as the setting for
the film premiere. Since he feels attracted to Shosanna, he manages to convince
Goebbels to hold the premiere in her cinema. Shosanna, however, does not
reciprocate his feelings.
Shosanna realizes that the presence of so many high ranking Nazi officials and
officers provides an excellent opportunity for revenge. She resolves to burn
down her cinema during the premiere and makes a fourth reel in which she tells
the Nazis present of her Jewish identity and revenge.
In the meantime, the British have also learned of the Nazi leadership's plan to
attend the premiere and dispatch a British officer, Lt. Archie Hicox, (Michael
Fassbender), to Paris to lead an attack on the cinema with the aid of the "Basterds"
and a German double agent, an actress by the name of Bridget von Hammersmark,
Hammersmark arranges to meet Hicox and the Basterds in the basement of a French
tavern. Unbeknown to her, however, the night of the rendezvous is also the
occasion of a German staff sergeant celebrating the birth of his son with his
soldier comrades. One of the German soldiers present strikes up a conversation
with Hicox and notices that his accent is "odd". An SS officer who is in the
tavern as well also notices that odd accent. When Hicox gives the wrong three
fingered order for whiskies, the SS officer is able to realise their deception.
A firefight breaks out in which the British officer and two of the "Basterds"
are killed. Hammersmark is wounded in her left leg.
Aldo Raine, (Brad Pitt), the commanding officer of the Basterds interrogates
Hammersmark and decides to continue the operation against the cinema. Colonel
Landa, now a SD officer, is able to retrieve one of Hammersmark's shoes from the
scene of the firefight at the tavern and also an autographed napkin which
Hammersmark had signed for the staff sergeant's son. He approaches Hammersmark
and Raine in the cinema lobby and is able to recognize their disguise and false
accents. He questions Hammersmark alone and makes her try on the shoe he had
retrieved from the tavern. It is a perfect fit. He violently strangles her to
death as a traitor and orders the arrest of Raine.
It is in the closing stages of the film that Quentin Tarantino sets the quirks
which show that the film is in an alternative universe. Landa reveals himself to
be a turncoat. He attempts to reach a deal with Raine's commanding officer via a
two way radio in which he proposes to allow the assassination attempt against
Hitler and the rest of the Nazi leadership to continue in return for safety,
privileges, money, medals and a house for himself. He also reveals that he had
planted a stick of dynamite in Hitler's box at the cinema meaning that there are
now three attempts against Hitler's life.
Zoller, uncomfortable with the way he is portrayed as killing Americans in "A
Nation's Pride", leaves the cinema auditorium and makes his way to the
projectionist's room where Shosanna is planning her attack. Shosanna's assistant
and lover, Marcel, (Jacky Ido), is waiting behind the cinema screen ready to set
alight nitrate film reels, which are highly combustible. Shosanna is unable to
get rid of Zoller and shoots him, mortally wounding him. He, in turn, shoots her
When the fourth reel of the film starts with Shosanna's speech to the Nazis
assembled in the auditorium that she is a Jew and is taking her revenge on them,
Marcel sets the nitrate film alight thus causing a pandemonium in the
auditorium. Meanwhile, two of Raine's men who had been seated amongst the Nazis
in the auditorium, discover Hitler's box and are able to shoot dead Hitler,
Goebbels and the other Nazi leaders. As the cinema is engulfed in flames, so
Raine's men machine gun and shoot the Nazis, including the women, who are
attempting to flee. Escape is impossible, as Marcel had earlier locked the
auditorium doors. Additionally, the dynamite that Landa had left in Hitler's box
now goes off. The cinema is destroyed in the subsequent inferno, killing all
inside, including Raine's two men and Marcel himself.
Landa sets off with Raine towards the American lines in Normandy where he
intends to turn himself in, as part of the deal he had made with Raine's
commanding officer. He surrenders to Raine and hands over his gun. Raine orders
Landa to be handcuffed and shoots dead Landa's driver.
The film ends with Raine carving a swastika into Landa's forehead and declaring
that it may just be his greatest "masterpiece".
Quentin Tarantino spent more than a
decade writing the script because, as he told Charlie Rose in an interview, he
became "too precious about the page," meaning the story kept growing and
expanding. Tarantino viewed the script as his ultimate masterpiece in the
making, so he felt it had to become the best thing he'd ever written. Entering
the 21st century, the director had been writing several scripts, including one
for the World War II adventure film that would eventually become Inglourious
Basterds. Tarantino described the premise in October 2001, "It's my
bunch-of-guys-on-a-mission film. It's my Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles
Dare or Guns of Navarone kind of thing." The premise had begun as a
Western and evolved into a World War II version of The Good, the Bad and the
Ugly set in Nazi-occupied France. The story changed to be about two maverick
units from the United States Army that had "a habit of scalping Germans" before
Actor Michael Madsen, who appeared in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and
Kill Bill, was originally reported to star in the movie, then spelled
Inglorious Bastards, which had been scheduled for release in 2004. By 2002,
Tarantino found Inglorious Bastards to be a bigger film than planned and
saw that other directors were working on World War II films. Tarantino had
produced three nearly finished scripts, saying, "It was some of the best writing
I've ever done. But I couldn't come up with an ending." The director then held
off his planned film and moved on to direct the two-part movie Kill Bill
(2003-2004) with Uma Thurman in the lead role. After the completion of Kill
Bill, Tarantino trimmed the length of the script, which was reportedly three
films long, to 222 pages. The director eventually planned to begin production of
Inglorious Bastards late in 2005. The revised premise focused on a group
of soldiers who escape from their executions and embark on a mission to help the
Allies. He described the men as "not your normal hero types that are thrown into
a big deal in the Second World War".
Tarantino also sought to present the film as a spaghetti-western set in
Nazi-occupied France. He explained his intent:
“ "I'm going to find a place that actually resembles, in one way or another, the
Spanish locales they had in spaghetti westerns — a no man's land. With American
soldiers and French peasants and the French resistance and Nazi occupiers, it
was kind of a no man's land. That will really be my spaghetti Western but with
World War II iconography. But the thing is, I won't be period specific about the
movie. I'm not just gonna play a lot of Édith Piaf and Andrews Sisters. I can
have rap, and I can do whatever I want. It's about filling in the viscera."
The director described the scale of the project:
"It'll be epic and have my take of the sociological battlefield at that time
with the racism and barbarism on all sides — the Nazi side, the American side,
the black and Jewish soldiers and the French, because it all takes place in
Tarantino planned to set the film around the time of D-Day (June 6, 1944) and
In November 2004, the director decided to hold off production of Inglourious
Bastards and instead film a kung fu movie entirely in Mandarin. Tarantino
ultimately directed a part of the 2007
Grindhouse instead, returning to work on what was now renamed into
Inglourious Basterds after finishing promotion for Grindhouse. He
teamed with The Weinstein Company to prepare what he planned to be his epic
masterpiece for production. In September 2007, The Irish Times reported
the film's scheduled release for 2008, writing, "Inglorious Bastards, a war
movie that may eventually resemble The Dirty Dozen merged with Cross of Iron,
has been predicted more often than the second coming of the Lord."
Of the finished film, Tarantino said he thinks that it is the closest thing to
Pulp Fiction he has ever done.
After the final draft of the script was finished, it got leaked on the web.
Several Tarantino fan sites began posting reviews and excerpts from the
script. Principal photography started mid-October 2008 on location in
Germany. Although the leaked script was confirmed to be the final draft of the
script, several things (set visits, interview snippets etc.) hinted that the
director has done some rewriting: changed some details, as well as added new
characters and expanded the ending of the film, possibly to surprise those who
have read the leaked script prematurely.
The first trailer for the film, a teaser, premiered on Entertainment Tonight on
February 10, 2009, and was shown in American theaters the following week
attached to Friday the 13th. The trailer features excerpts of Lt. Aldo Raine
talking to the rest of 'the basterds', informing them of the plan to kill,
torture, and scalp Nazis, intercut with various other scenes from the movie. It
also features the spaghetti-westernesque kickers Once Upon A Time In Nazi
Occupied France (originally considered as a subtitle for the film) and A
Basterd's Work is Never Done, a line not spoken in the final film.
The film was released on August 19 in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and
the Republic of Ireland, two days earlier than the US release. Some European
cinemas however showed previews starting on August 15.
To date, there has been little explanation of the title spelling. In English,
the presumed correct spelling would be "Inglorious Bastards," without the extra
u in Inglourious and with an a instead of an e in Basterds. When asked,
Tarantino would not explain the u and said, "But the 'Basterds'? That's just the
way you say it: Basterds." He commented on The Late Show with David Letterman
that "Inglourious Basterds" is the "Tarantino way of spelling it."
In July 2008, Tarantino and the Weinsteins set up an accelerated production
schedule to be completed for release at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. The
Weinstein Company plans to co-finance the film and distribute it in the United
States. The company signed a deal with Universal Pictures to finance the rest of
the film and distribute it internationally. Germany and France were scheduled as
filming locations. Filming was scheduled to begin on October 13, 2008, and
shooting started that week. Special Effects were handled by K.N.B. EFX Group
with Greg Nicotero. Much of the film was shot and edited in the famous
Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam, Germany, the oldest large-scale film studio in
Following the film's screening at Cannes, Tarantino stated that he would be
re-editing the film in June before its ultimate theatrical release, allowing him
time to finish assembling several scenes that weren't completed in time for the
hurried Cannes premiere.
The Basterds (The Americans)
- Brad Pitt as 1st Lieutenant Aldo
Raine aka "Aldo the Apache": A fast-talking, thickly accented,
vengeance-driven hillbilly from the mountains of Tennessee, who puts together
a team of eight Jewish American soldiers. He bears a rope burn on his neck,
which will never be mentioned in the film (the script hints that once upon a
time, he might have survived a lynching somewhere). One of the film's main
protagonists: the character has been described as "a voluble, freewheeling
outlaw" similar to Jules Winnfield from Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. His
first appearance in the film is a subtle homage to George Carlin's The Indian
Sergeant routine. The character's name is a tribute to the character actor
Aldo Ray, who appeared as a tough soldier in many WWII films such as Battle
Cry and What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?.
- Eli Roth as Staff Sergeant Donny
Donowitz aka "The Bear Jew": A huge and obnoxious "baseball bat-swinging Nazi
hunter" from Boston who is known as "The Bear Jew" among Nazis. Some of them
seem to fear that Donowitz is in fact, a vengeful golem, summoned by an angry
rabbi. The role was originally conceived for Adam Sandler, who was in talks
with Tarantino before declining due to schedule conflicts with the film
Funny People. Roth also directed the film-within-a-film, entitled
"Nation's Pride" (Stolz der Nation) which is a homage to Leni Riefenstahl's
wartime propaganda flicks.
- Til Schweiger as Hugo Stiglitz: A
strange and quiet German-born psychopath, former Feldwebel in the Wehrmacht
who is recruited by Aldo to kill other Nazis. The character's name is a
tribute to the famous 70s B-movie mexploitation actor Hugo Stiglitz.
- Gedeon Burkhard as Wilhelm Wicki: An
Austro-German Jew who "became American".
- B. J. Novak as PFC Smithson Utivich
aka "The Little Man" - In an interview with Esquire Magazine, Novak theorizes
that PFC. Utivich came from a family that named their son Smithson in an
attempt to integrate themselves into the WASP-y mainstream and that signing up
to fight the Nazis is his attempt to reclaim his Jewish heritage.
- Omar Doom as PFC Omar Ulmer
- Samm Levine as PFC Gerold Hirschberg
- Paul Rust as PFC Andy Kagan: A character
Tarantino added in after meeting Rust.
- Michael Bacall as PFC Michael Zimmerman.
- Carlos Fidel as PFC Simon Sakowitz.
- Michael Fassbender as Lt. Archie
Hicox: A "snappy and handsome British lieutenant" and movie buff. He is
described in the script as a "young George Sanders type". One of the film's
main protagonists, albeit introduced later in the movie.
- Mike Myers as General Ed Fenech: A
"legendary British military mastermind" who provides a plot to kill Nazi
leadership. Based on the older George Sanders.
- Rod Taylor as Winston Churchill: The
then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus:
A young French-Jewish girl on the run. One of the film's main protagonists,
Tarantino states that Shosanna was "always a main character".
- Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Himmelstein:
An elderly Jewish woman living in Boston. Although filmed, the scenes
featuring Mrs. Himmelstein drinking tea with Donny Donowitz (and signing his
trademark baseball bat afterwards) were cut from the final film. Tarantino
says that he might use the footage in the prequel instead.
The Axis Powers
- Christoph Waltz as Standartenführer
Hans Landa aka "The Jew Hunter": A romantic, yet utterly sinister pipe-smoking
Nazi Waffen-SS-turned-SD officer so nicknamed in reference to his keen ability
to locate Jews hiding throughout France. Tarantino claims that if he had not
found a perfect actor for the role, he "might have pulled the plug on the
whole movie". Tarantino also remarked that this might be the greatest
character he's ever written. A linguistic genius and a charming detective,
Colonel Hans Landa is the primary antagonist of the film. For his performance,
Christoph Waltz won the Best Actor Award in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
- Daniel Brühl as Gefreiter Fredrick
Zoller: A young arrogant German Wehrmacht war hero starring in Joseph Goebbels'
newest propaganda film entitled "Stolz der Nation" (which is actually directed
by Eli Roth who is Jewish).
- August Diehl as Sturmbannführer
Dieter Hellstrom: A uniformed Gestapo officer.
- Sönke Möhring as Gefreiter Butz.
- Richard Sammel as Feldwebel Werner
- Sylvester Groth as Joseph Goebbels.
- Martin Wuttke as Adolf Hitler.
- Samuel L. Jackson as The Narrator
- Diane Kruger as Bridget von
Hammersmark: A popular film star in Nazi Germany and a spy for the Allies.
- Julie Dreyfus as Francesca Mondino:
Joseph Goebbel's mistress, French interpreter and favourite actress to appear
in his films.
- Ludger Pistor as Wolfgang: A role
Tarantino added specifically for him.
- Christian Berkel as Eric: The
- Maggie Cheung as Madame Ada Mimeux:
Although her scenes were cut from the Cannes cut for length reasons, Cheung
played Madame Mimieux, a beautiful French woman who owned the cinema marquee
in Paris where most of the movie is set.
- Denis Menochet as Perrier LaPadite.
- Jacky Ido as Marcel: Shosanna's
beloved and a projectionist at Mimeux's cinema. A man of quiet dignity.
- Jana Pallaske (rumored) as an
- Enzo G. Castellari as
Obergruppenführer: A nameless Nazi General, although strangely credited as
"himself" in the film. Castellari had done a Nazi cameo in his own Inglorious
Bastards and reprised the role in this movie as well, but under a different
rank and SS organization.
Harvey Keitel lends his voice as the Basterds'
commanding officer, heard only over the radio in a call to Raine and Landa.
Tarantino originally talked to Simon Pegg about portraying Lt. Archie Hicox,
but the actor was forced to drop out due to scheduling difficulties having
already agreed to appear in Spielberg's Tintin adaptation. However,
Pegg did make Tarantino promise to cast him in his next film. Also, Tarantino
originally sought for Leonardo DiCaprio to be cast as Hans Landa, a poetic
Nazi colonel targeted by the resistance. The director then decided to instead
have the character played by a German actor. The role ultimately went to
Christoph Waltz, an Austrian actor who, according to Tarantino, "gave me my
Reviews have been very positive. On Rotten
Tomatoes, it currently holds an 89% rating, with Rotten Tomatoes calling it "A
classic Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, Inglourious Basterds is
violent, unrestrained, and thoroughly entertaining".
At the Cannes Film Festival premiere, the movie initially received mixed
reviews, but also had a 16 minute standing ovation.
Critic James Berardinelli gave the film his first 4/4 star review of 2009
stating "With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has made his best
movie since Pulp Fiction" adding that it was "one hell of an enjoyable ride.
"While many of the critics praised the film, others thought that it was
entertaining, but not quite a masterpiece. Anne Thompson of Variety wrote "Inglourious
Basterds is great fun to watch, but the movie isn't entirely engaging. And
it is definitely an art film, not a calculatedly mainstream entertainment ...
Tarantino throws you out of the movie with titles, chapter headings, snatches
of music. You don't jump into the world of the film in a participatory way;
you watch it from a distance, appreciating the references and the masterful
mise-en-scene. This is a film that will benefit from a second viewing. I can't
wait to see it again". On August 19, Roger Ebert gave the film a very
positive review, giving the film 4/4 stars saying: "Quentin Tarantino’s
“Inglourious Basterds” is a big, bold, audacious war movie that will annoy
some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he’s the real thing, a
director of quixotic delights."
The reaction of the French critics was mixed : the cultural review, Les
Inrocks, considered it to be one of Tarantino's best, while Le Monde dismissed
it proving a partial view of the period. Nevertheless, the movie received an
11 minute standing ovation after the first screening. Master Movie critic
Devin Faraci of Chud.com praised the film for Christoph Waltz's performance
stating, "The cry has been raised long before this review, but let me continue
it: Christoph Waltz needs not an Oscar nomination but rather an actual Oscar
in his hands.... he must have gold.". The Guardian also gave a negative
review, awarding the film one star out of five. It described the film as a
"transcendentally disappointing dud, in which Brad Pitt delivers his most
charmless performance to date".
Christoph Waltz received the Cannes award for Best Leading Actor, for his
critically praised performance as the poetic SS colonel, Hans Landa.
There had been rumors that, after the
feedback at the Cannes Film Festival, Tarantino was forced by Harvey Weinstein
to cut 40 minutes of the film. In response to the rumors, Harvey Weinstein
said: "Those stories are all untrue. There's no fucking way. Here, read my
lips: That is nuts. Please don't even write that, it's insanity. There's not
even a question of that. Whatever you're reading, it's like some insane
blogger… There's no truth to any of this. He's not gonna cut. What he's doing
is just reorganizing some scenes. I mean, the guy had six weeks to cut his
movie [for Cannes]; most guys take six months. Most guys take a year." It was
confirmed on July 8 that the film would in fact be one minute longer than the
Cannes cut, and would include a scene in which Lt. Hicox meets the Basterds.
The German publicity site by Universal
Pictures has been censored as the display of Nazi iconography is illegal in
Germany. The title has the German Swastika removed and the Stahlhelm helmet
has a bullet hole instead of the Nazi symbol. The download section of the
German site has been revised to exclude wallpaper downloads that feature the
Swastika openly. Also, for the German release, film posters and trailers had
to be censored for the same reasons. In the title, the swastika was removed
from the letter "O"; various other swastikas on the advertising posters were
removed as well.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia
article "Inglourious Basterds" and is licensed under the
GNU Free Documentation License.