It has a great opening scene. It has a terrific villain. In fact,Hans Landa is so cheerily,compulsively black that you fall for him,knowing full well that he is a cold-blooded Nazi,out to get all the Jews he can. If SS Colonel Landa had a belt in his hand,he would have happily created notches in it,right there,in front of our appalled eyes. In another part of German-occupied France,Lt Aldo Raine and his band of merry men are busy scalping Nazis,and branding their foreheads with a large,crudely-carved swastika.
Quentin Tarantino was reviled and praised in equal measure for
Inglourious Basterds,a tribute to the Italian film of the same name,but the spelling is all Tarantino. His refusal to explain it is of a piece with the kind of film it is: an intensely farcical paean to the sort of war film where theres not much to choose between the heroes and the villains. Landa is the bad guy with not a single redeeming feature; Raine may be a good guy,but he goes around bashing his enemies skulls in,to the accompaniment of swelling background music.
Christoph Waltz should have got an Oscar for his superb Landa; he had to make do with a Best Supporting Actor. This is how Inglourious opens. Now dont tell me,he tells the shaken French farmer kindly,confidingly,but just indicate where your Jewish neighbours are,and we look,horrified,at the stricken face of the man whos betraying his lifelong friends,and at the face of the man whos made him do so,an implacable smile on his face.
Brad Pitt as Raine has the broadest Southern accent ever to grace a Hollywood screen. And he revels in his bloody pursuits as much as Landa does. So is this a hideous,morally indefensible film which makes much too merry with violence and blood? Nah,its just Tarantino having his fun,filling in viscera,and inviting you along for the ride.