If you’ve been a Tarantino fan you’d immediately recognise the style in the opening credits on what he’s planned for the ride ahead. With Inglourious Basterds, we’re thrown into a frenzy of introductions which go all out to define the most audacious war movie. From the word go, you’re constantly playing a guessing game to understand where all this is going.
The plot traces two stories only to bring them together in the end. Chapter One introduces Shosanna Dreyfus, a French Jew whose family is being threatened with the Nazi treatments and is taking shelter under the floor boards of a dairy farmer. SS Colonel Hans Landa the charming ‘Hunter’ put in charge of hunting Jews by none other than the Fuhrer himself, is sent to hunt them down with Sherlock Holmes kind of smartness. Shosanna’s family is killed while she is the only one to escape the massacre. She flees to Paris, while the movie is catching up, she is seen running a cinema under an assumed name.
The other story follows the adventures of Lt. Aldo Raine and his group of American “Basterds.” They’ve been air-dropped into France behind enemy lines and are wreaking havoc. Their goal- kill Nazis. They don’t take prisoners; they take scalps. They have become so infamous that even Hitler knows about them. Churchill and the British high command send in one of their own with a plan. New intelligence indicates that nearly the entire German upper echelon will be at a cinema in Paris for the premiere of a new propaganda film. The goal is to blow up the cinema and kill as many of Hitler’s top men as possible.
Tarantino loves dialogue and there’s a lot it while the action is carrying on even though the conversations aren’t as convoluted as some of those in the director’s previous efforts, but there are some intriguing moments – a Nazi providing a detailed comparison between Jew-hunting and rat-hunting, a 20 questions-like guessing game with the answer of “King Kong,” and a reverse Cinderella encounter in which having a foot to fit the shoe is not a good thing. We get the point, he has a way with words. All these scenes lead to sudden, violent action and the threat of bloodshed is heavy in the air. With every sentence, the tension mounts. Its his way of priming the audience before the storm shows up.
When you walk out, you’re invariably thinking “Damn, why don’t more people think like this.” Certainly. Story telling would have a whole new meaning if knitting remained this tight. The whole fabric of this film is deeper than you think. There are layers nested to each character and each scene. Not much is there without purpose. The intensity is welcome and worth it.
Contributed by Roopesh Shah