Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Rated: R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality.
Length: 153 scintillating minutes.
Grade: A+FAA+=A+
Budget: $70 million
Box Office: $339 million (120 U.S., 192 Intl., 27 DVD)

Written and Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (Planet Terror, Deathproof, Kill Bill I & II, and the film that started it all: Reservoir Dogs)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Daniel Bruhl, and Diane Kruger, also with Samuel L. Jackson, Mike Meyers, and Harvey Keitel.

A guerilla fighting unit of American-led Jews terrorizes Germans in this World War II epic which leads toward them trying to kill most of the Nazi high command at a movie screening in Paris in 1944.

Entertainment Value: A+
Okay, full disclosure, I think Tarantino is a mad scientist movie genius, and I’m not alone. He’s also a grade A weirdo. However, I acknowledge that not everyone loves his movies the many of us do. Nevertheless, this is easily his most approachable movie, and I almost can’t imagine anyone who can stomach an R movie and who has any liking at all for war movies wouldn’t love this. Even my wife, who is no fan of either him or war movies thought it was not too bad, which is full-out praise from her on such a movie. The acting, the dialogue, the setting, the plot, the characters, the pacing. Seriously, this is a perfect movie, and if it isn’t nominated for best picture, I’ll be mystified.

Superficial Content: F
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity C-, Violence F, Language F
There is a lot of drinking in the movie, with an entire scene set in a bar with drinking games. There’s almost no sex/nudity, but there is one rather jarring and sudden scene of a man and a woman having sex although without nudity. Language is constant and strong, but if it’s possible for profanity to be artistically used rather than pointless, this is purposeful. The primary issue here will be violence, which is regular and graphic. Lots of war killing, blood, some torture, people being scalped, and beaten to death with a club. In other words, it’s a Quentin Tarantino film. But again, I’d have to say that everything in here is appropriate for what the film is trying to accomplish.

Significant Content: A
This is a film essentially about revenge and the frustration of not getting to see evil people destroyed. It’s also about how a person (or a scene) can be terrifying without being scary. The worst evil of all seems almost charming, as represented in the various SS officers.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
Tarantino is a master at exploring the elements and psychological motivations and rewards of revenge. He has a razor-keen awareness of the role that justice and retribution play in most of our hearts, and this movie is thrilling precisely for this reason as well as because he is a virtuoso of pacing and patience for effect.

Discussion Questions:
~Are you satisfied by the way this movie ends? Why or why not? How did you want it to end? How strongly did you feel about the ending, and what do you make of your reaction?
~What insights might you draw from the contrast between the cruel but charming Hans Landa and the cruel but crass Aldo Raine? Is there any correlation between sophistication and decency in your opinion?
~When Landa is giving his commentary on Jews and thinking like them, is he truly praising them or is he truly showing his contempt for them? Why do you think he makes the choice he makes outside the farmhouse?
~Who in this movie demonstrates honor? Do any of the characters compromise their integrity?
~What is your evaluation of Frederick Zoller? Why does he leave the film?
~In what ways would you describe this as a Greek tragedy? Can you identify the fatal flaws in any of these characters?
~What lessons does this movie have to teach about revenge and retribution? How would you compare it to Deathproof, if you saw it? Does it seem like an American movie or a foreign movie?
~The purpose of Aldo Raine’s unit is to terrorize the Nazis. How do they do this, and what do you think of this as a tactic? Does the fact that it is Nazis being terrorized alter your opinion of such violations of the Geneva Convention and the principles of Just War Theory? Could a Christian use such tactics?
Overall Grade: A+
As I said, I enjoyed this immensely, more than any Tarantino movie yet, and that’s really saying something. There’s a lot of stuff in this movie that I am deliberately not addressing because I don’t want to give anything away for those of you who have not yet seen it but might. I literally feel like I would be stealing from you if I said much more.

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