Inglorious Basterds, Love of my Life
Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 movie “Inglourious Basterds.” Holy shit, where do I start? Anyone who knows me or has even spoken to me for more than about twelve seconds knows that I am just utterly obsessed with this movie. I watched it for the first time over winter break in my freshman year of high school, and I swear to God I have not been the same person since. “Inglourious Basterds” takes place in Nazi-occupied France and tells the story of Operation Kino, an Allied Forces plot to sabotage a big Nazi Party event and take out several members of the German high command all at once. The main agents of this plan are Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his band of Jewish-American soldiers (the titular Basterds, including such icons as B.J. Novak and Eli Roth), collaborating with the German movie star and British spy Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) and British Lt. Archie Hicox (played by Michael Fassbender). Throughout it all, S.S. Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is one step behind them, right up until he isn’t.
I have loved this movie so much and for so long, it is astoundingly difficult for me to organize my thoughts into something comprehensible to put on this page. I’ll start with the plot. This story is so ridiculously satisfying. Some people get off easier than they should, some people die that maybe didn’t deserve it, but so many people get just exactly what was coming to them. I don’t want to spoil anything, because I need every single person to watch this movie, but the way this story unfolds is genuinely one of the most entertaining things I have ever encountered. This movie has a runtime of about 2.5 hours, but it doesn’t feel like it. That could be my personal flaw of having no internal clock, but it is more likely that this masterpiece is so enthralling that you don’t notice the time passing by. Every single twist and reveal makes me want to jump up and down and run around the room, even after having seen this movie a ridiculous number of times. Seriously, I’d estimate that it’s in the triple digits. That’s how much I love this movie, and how rewatchable it is.
I think one of the objectively best parts of this movie is the cast and their magnificent portrayals of their characters. The Basterds are all so ridiculously likable, you just have to root for them. Brad Pitt is phenomenal as Aldo Raine. He’s funny, he’s genuine, I’m in love with him, he’s very aware of himself, I want him to be happy. Diane Kruger is so perfect in her role as von Hammersmark. She’s a movie star in real life so she’s got experience, but she’s just so charming. She is a girlboss to the ultimate degree. I love that she takes charge and is not overshadowed or bossed around by all the soldiers she’s dealing with. Her presence is so commanding, she is just amazing. The obvious standout of this movie, and the performance you’re most likely to have heard about is that of Christoph Waltz. Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. If I ever met this man in the real world I would pass out, then wake up and cry, and then piss my pants before I could even attempt to work up the courage to talk to him. Waltz as Landa makes this movie. It would NOT be the masterpiece it is without him. If you watch any interviews with Tarantino about this movie, he always brings up that he thought for a long time that he had written an unplayable character, but OH MY GOD does Christoph Waltz play him. Landa is so perfectly sinister and calculating and manipulative, but so ridiculously charming. This man is so obviously exceptionally good at his job as a Nazi colonel, and yet Waltz makes you want to like him! You find yourself smiling at his antics as he finds out about fun English phrases before you remember, “What the hell, this is a villain, this is a NAZI, what is wrong with me?” I swear there is nothing wrong with you! Christoph Waltz is just simply a god on Earth and a super force on screen, not to mention the fact that he’s fluent in English, French, and German (and shows off his skills many many times in this movie). Literally check any list ever about the best film villains of all time, I promise you that Hans Landa is on there. This whole entire cast makes me go feral. I am genuinely obsessed.
As always, you know I have to mention the score. I voraciously love this soundtrack. It heavily features Ennio Morricone, with some David Bowie and Billy Preston thrown in there. Every single part of this film is ramped up to 10, and then the score just comes in and snaps the knob right off. I want to exist in free fall while this soundtrack blasts in my ears. I want to put this soundtrack in my mouth and chew it up. I want to roll around in this soundtrack like a pig in mud. My absolute favorite scene in this movie comes towards the beginning, just after the Basterds are introduced. Aldo Raine is interrogating a Nazi sergeant, trying to make him reveal important information about troops along the road ahead. As he stubbornly and solemnly refuses, Raine calls out to Donny Donowitz (my most favorite character). He’s off screen, in the back of a dark tunnel, and as we hear him slowly approaching to execute the sergeant, Morricone’s “La Resa” comes in. It builds and builds as Donny’s bat smacking against the walls of the tunnel gets louder and louder, and right as he emerges there’s this huge(!!!) trombone entrance, and I swear to God this is the most glorious film score moment ever. It is so terrifically grand you can feel it in your chest. Every single time I watch this movie, this scene makes me want to get out of my seat and spin around the room tearing it apart like the Tasmanian devil. The music continues as Donny and the sergeant exchange a few brief words and some intense eye contact, and right as Donny’s bat connects for the first time it abruptly cuts out. I want to scream and shout and implant this scene into my chest where my heart belongs, and I am 110% sure that the score has everything to do with it.
My most beloved aspect of this movie is the gore. I am such a little freak for just ridiculously murderous and gorey movies, and boy howdy does “Inglourious Basterds” hit the spot. This is very much a Tarantino staple – absurd amounts of blood gushing everywhere, so much that you can’t possibly believe it’s real, but it’s just so much fun. I’m a real sucker for practical effects, and my boy Quentin always comes through for me. There is an astounding amount of violence and murder in this movie, so if that’s not your thing, I don’t recommend it. But, if you’re like me and you can’t get enough, I could never recommend this movie highly enough.
All in all, this movie is perfect in my eyes. I literally do not have a single complaint. About 70% of this movie is in French, German, or Italian, and I don’t need the subtitles to recite exactly what they’re saying. I can act out all 153 minutes of this film from memory. I have favorite shots, favorite sound moments, favorite trivia facts that I love to share any time I con another one of my friends into watching. Ever since this movie entered my life in 2017, I have not gone more than a month without watching it again. There are times when I’ll watch it twice in a row because it is just so magnificent. On the iconic Haley Movie Good Time - Bad Time Scale, this movie is a solid “Literally had the time of my life watching it and will never ever stop going back to it.”