Went and saw Inglourious Basterds yesterday. Thought I’d be put off by the “Let’s go kill some Nazis, yee ha!” attitude that the commercial promised. Not that I have anything against killing Nazis, but the trope is kind of tiresome. Plus I was afraid Tarantino would make light of the whole situation. You know, turn the slaughter of 10 million or so people into Kill Bill Vaudeville. But the film won me over in the end.
It wasn’t the silly 70s-esque voice-over intro of Nazi killer Stiglitz or the Brooklyn baseball kid whom the Nazis call the Bear Jew. It was the tension. Every single fucking scene in this movie is loaded with tension, a Sword of Damocles hanging over every word. And yet, nearly every scene is just two people talking. Each smile, gesture, off-hand phrase is loaded with multiple subtexts. You know it’s Tarantino, so you know it could get bloody at any moment. But which moment, that is the mystery, and the suspense, and what kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I think I need to watch this film again to learn a lesson on the art of tension building.
I didn’t think it was flawless, of course. In particular, Pitt’s character was just a bit too affected for my tastes. And there are some silly things that happen in the denouement. (Seriously, the Führer in your theater and you have no one guarding the lobby?) Yeah, the end was dark, and it left me feeling like I needed to bathe several times to get the gore out of my brain. But I think this movie is worth watching again.