Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some Questions about Inglorious Basterds (Spoilers Ahead)

We saw Inglourious Basterds last week, and I've been meaning to write this entry since then because I have some questions. See, I thought the movie was horrible, yet I keep reading what a great movie it is. I just don't get it. I didn't like Pulp Fiction when I first saw it, but I didn't think it was horrible. Reservoir Dogs was fine; I didn't have much of an opinion about it. I really, really liked Death Proof, and I think the Kill Bill movies are some of the best I've ever seen. I don't have a set opinion of Tarantino, obviously, but I clearly give him a chance.

I get how Basterds is a revenge fantasy depicting a world where Hitler and the rest were killed in one fell swoop. And how get how the Basterds themselves are supposed to be funny. But I just don't get how we're supposed to fell that those goals were completed. This is my primary problem (and a major spoiler): Shoshanna dies just like her family did while Col. Landa, the man who ordered the death of her family, lives. This is a revenge fantasy where the only-surviving symbol of loss is killed and the man who created her loss lives? And I didn't get the humor. There were some goofy accents and odd behaviors, but they were not that funny. And they were few and far between, which means that those who did find those things funny would not really have a lot to laugh at.

In a lot of ways, the serious part of the film was like the second Kill Bill, where Beatrice is fighting to get to her daughter. And the humorous parts of the film were like the first Kill Bill, with its over-stylized staging and words on the screen and all that. But neither got the depth it needed, and the merger wasn't smooth. In fact, it felt like whiplash at times.

What am I missing? Was I just letting my mood lately overshadow my feelings? I just thought it was probably the worst movie I've seen this year, and we saw G. I. Joe.


  1. LOL. I posted a very long response to this and then browser trouble caused me to lose it. I loved the film but let me quickly rehash what would have been my main point.

    RE: Shoshanna dies, Landa lives. Also consider the Frenchman at the beginning who completely gives up the Dreyfuss's in Chapter 1 lives (or, at least, we don't see him killed) and the Basterds let the last German soldier go after he reveals where the next troupe of soldiers are. Also, Landa lets Shoshanna live in Chp. 1 and we can speculate what exactly is happening there as she's running across the field but there is some vagueness in motivation there.

    Point being there are a lot of deaths and I think they're clearly being chosen very specifically by QT. The funny thing is no matter how explainable they are, for instance, the soldier is sent off to strike fear in the hearts of his fellow soldiers, there are many that still go against what I would call conventional movie morality.

    On a very base level, it keeps you on your toes because you never can really project who's going to eat it, which kinda reminds me of a good disaster movie like Poseidon Adventure. I think the script (I trust the script) is working on more levels than that and probably saying something about our expectations of who is supposed to die based on cinema conventions but to really get into that I'd need another viewing and a notepad.

  2. I can get that intellectually, but it all just left me kind of confused and bored. The movie was over, and I actually asked Da Man, "What am I supposed to be feeling right now?" And he said, "I was hoping you'd tell me." Frankly, if his point was that war is unpredictable and there's no logic to who lives or who dies, it took a tedious route to get there.