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Information about Inglourious Basterds (2009 film)Inglourious Basterds is a 2009 (8 years ago) movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and released in Aug. 2009 (8 years ago) by The Weinstein Company and Universal Pictures. It was filmed in several locations, among them Germany and France, beginning in Oct. 2008 (9 years ago). The film, set in German-occupied France, tells the story of two plots to assassinate the Nazi German political leadership, one planned by a young French Jewish cinema proprietress, the other by a team of Jewish-American soldiers called the "Basterds".
Tarantino has repeatedly stressed that despite its being a war film, Inglourious Basterds is a "spaghetti western but with World War II iconography". In addition to spaghetti westerns, the movie also pays homage to the World War II "macaroni combat" sub-genre (itself heavily influenced by spaghetti-westerns).
Inglourious Basterds was accepted into the main selection at the 62nd Cannes movie Festival in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or and had its world premiere there in May. It was the only U.S. movie to win an award at Cannes that year, earning a Best Actor award for Christoph Waltz.
Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time...In Nazi Occupied FranceThe movie opens in Nazi-occupied France, in 1941 (76 years ago). Colonel Hans Landa, (Christoph Waltz) of the Waffen-SS and SD, the "Jew Hunter," interrogates Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet), a French dairy farmer, about rumors that he has been hiding a Jewish family. Landa manages to break down LaPadite and locates the hiding place of the Jews underneath the floorboards. He orders his soldiers to fire into the floorboards, killing all but the teenage Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), whom Landa allows to escape when she flees on foot.
Chapter 2: Inglourious BasterdsThe eponymous Basterds, a team of Jewish American soldiers from the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA's Special Activities Division), are introduced. Their leader, 1st Lieutenant Aldo Raine aka "Aldo the Apache" (Brad pitt (17 walls)), announces their mission and goal: to cause panic and havoc within the Third Reich by savagely killing as many German servicemen as possible, adopting a "take no prisoners" attitude and scalping their victims, with orders to get 100 scalps each. In the next scene, the Basterds are shown at work in occupied France, scalping a unit of Nazi troops. They have recruited Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), a German who gained the Basterds' attention after he killed 13 Gestapo officers. Their modus operandi includes leaving one German alive as a witness in order to spread the news of the terror of their attacks. They carve a Nazi Swastika into the survivor's forehead in order to make the Nazi identifiable to all as a Nazi after the war and to further spread fear throughout the German military.
Chapter 3: German Night in ParisFour years after her escape, Shosanna reappears in Paris, having assumed the identity of one "Emmanuelle Mimieux", and has also become the proprietress of a small cinema, Le Gamaar. How she managed to do so is not revealed; she claims to have inherited it from her aunt. She meets Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl), a German marksman turned war hero whose exploits are to be celebrated in a forthcoming propaganda film, Stolz der Nation (A Nation's Pride). Although Shosanna coldly brushes off Zoller's advances, Zoller, in attempt to impress her, manages to convince Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) to hold the Stolz der Nation movie premiere at her theater with Hitler (Martin Wuttke) himself and some of his other subordinates, such as Hermann Göring and Martin Bormann, in attendance.
Shosanna realizes that the presence of so many high-ranking German officials and officers provides an excellent opportunity for revenge. With the help of her projectionist boyfriend, Marcel (Jacky Ido), she resolves to burn down her cinema using the massive quantities of flammable nitrate movie in her storage rooms during the premiere, and splices a movie of herself into the fourth reel, telling the Germans present of her Jewish identity and intention to exact revenge upon them.
Chapter 4: Operation KinoThe British have also learned of the Nazi leadership's plan to attend the premiere and their General Ed Fenech (Mike Myers) dispatches a British officer and Third Reich movie expert, Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), to Paris to lead an attack on the premier. He is to work with the Basterds and a German double agent, an actress named Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger (25 walls)). Hammersmark arranges to meet Hicox and the Basterds in the basement of a French tavern. The soldiers arrive to find German staff sergeant Wilhelm (Alexander Fehling) celebrating the birth of his son with several comrades. Hicox and the Basterds' German members (Hugo Stiglitz and Wilhelm Wicki) meet with Hammersmark, but the rendezvous goes awry when the German soldiers start pestering them. Hicox tries to intimidate Wilhelm, but he notices Hicox's German accent is odd, and a suspicious Gestapo major (Aug. Diehl) becomes convinced of the deception when Hicox orders three whiskies by holding up his index, middle and ring fingers (Hammersmark later explains that a German would have used his thumb, index and middle fingers). A firefight breaks out, and everyone save Hammersmark and Wilhelm are killed. Follows a Mexican standoff between Raine and Wilhelm, whom Hammersmark shoots to death after he lowers his weapon at Raine's insistence. The Basterds are deprived of their two German translators and Lt. Hicox.
Raine interrogates Hammersmark as she briefs him on the changes for the cinema premiere including Hitler's attendance. Raine decides to continue the operation against the cinema with three other members of the Basterds, Donny (Eli Roth), Utivich (B. J. Novak), and Omar (Omar Doom), disguised as Hammersmark's Italian escorts. Colonel Landa investigates the killings at the tavern and retrieves Hammersmark's shoe along with a napkin that Hammersmark had autographed for the staff sergeant's newborn son.
Chapter 5: Revenge of the Giant FaceAt the theater Landa approaches Hammersmark, Raine, and the Basterds and sees through their false (and in Raine's case thoroughly transparent) identities. He questions Hammersmark in a private room and makes her try on the shoe he had retrieved from the tavern, which fits perfectly. He then strangles her to death and orders Raine's arrest.
After removing Raine and Utivich from the cinema, Landa proposes a deal: he will allow the assassination of the Nazi leadership, which would put an end to the war, if he is given immunity from any war crimes prosecution, the Congressional Medal of Honor for himself and the Basterds, a full military pension, and land on Nantucket Island. He also reveals that he took Raine's stick of dynamite and hid it in Hitler's opera box, meaning there are now three attempts against Hitler's life. Raine's commanding officer (Harvey Keitel in a voice-only cameo appearance) agrees to the deal.
At the premiere, the movie begins; it appears to consist almost entirely of Zoller shooting Americans, and the audience responds with loud enthusiasm. Zoller becomes uncomfortable and goes up to the projectionist's booth, where Shosanna is setting up her attack, while Marcel waits behind the cinema screen ready to set the movie reels on fire. Zoller angrily protests at her constant rejections of him. Shosanna reacts by shooting him, and he apparently falls dead. Feeling pity, Shoshanna goes over to his body, but Zoller is not dead and shoots Shosanna dead before succumbing to his own injuries.
The cinema audience is astonished when the fourth reel of the movie begins with an interspliced shot of Shosanna announcing that she is a Jew and they are to burn. Marcel sets the nitrate movie aflame, causing panic in the auditorium. At this point, the movie is revealed to be set in an alternate version of World War II, as Donny and Omar ambush Hitler in his box and gun him down, along with the other Nazi leaders. With the doors locked and the cinema burning, Raine's men fire hundreds of rounds randomly into the crowd. Shortly after, the dynamite that Landa had set up, and the dynamite being worn by the two remaining Basterds, detonates, incinerating the theater and killing everyone inside.
In the final scene, Landa sets off with Raine and Utivich toward the American lines where he intends to turn himself in as part of the deal he has made. At the lines, he surrenders to Raine and hands over his weapons in a symbolic act of surrender. Raine asks for his knife back, orders Landa handcuffed, shoots Landa's driver dead, and tells Utivich to scalp the driver. He tells the appalled Landa that his superiors will only "chew him out" for this violation of the deal's terms. Finally, Raine, suspecting Landa will get rid of his Nazi uniform, decides to give him "something he can't take off," (mimicking an earlier scene) and carves a swastika into his forehead. Raine had earlier described the difficulty of carving a neat swastika, but in the film's final line he declares, "You know something Utivich, I think this just might be my masterpiece."
DevelopmentQuentin Tarantino spent more than a decade writing the script because, as he told Charlie Rose in an interview, he became "too precious about the page," meaning the story kept growing and expanding. Tarantino viewed the script as his ultimate masterpiece in the making, so he felt it had to become the best thing he'd ever written. Tarantino described an early premise in Oct. 2001 (16 years ago): "[It's] my bunch-of-guys-on-a-mission film. [It's] my Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare or Guns of Navarone kind of thing." The premise had begun as a Western and evolved into a World War II version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly set in German-occupied France. The story changed to be about two maverick units from the United States Army that had "a habit of scalping Germans".
Actor Michael Madsen, who appeared in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill (2 walls), was originally reported to star in the movie, then spelled Inglorious Bastards, which had been scheduled for release in 2004 (13 years ago). By 2002 (15 years ago), Tarantino found Inglourious Basterds to be a bigger movie than planned and saw that other directors were working on World War II films. By this point, he had produced three nearly finished scripts, saying, "[It was] some of the best writing I've ever done. But I couldn't come up with an ending." Consequently, the director held off his planned movie and moved on to direct the two-part movie Kill Bill (2 walls) (2003–2004) with Uma Thurman (4 walls) in the lead role.
After the completion of Kill Bill (2 walls), Tarantino trimmed the length of the script, which was reportedly three movies long, to 222 pages, and planned to begin production of Inglourious Basterds late in 2005 (12 years ago). The revised premise focused on a group of soldiers who escape from their executions and embark on a mission to help the Allies. He described the men as "not your normal hero types that are thrown into a big deal in the Second World War". He continued to describe the movie as a spaghetti western set in German-occupied France, specifically around the time of D-Day (June 6, 1944 (73 years ago)) and afterward. He explained his intent:
I'm going to find a place that actually resembles, in one way or another, the Spanish locales they had in spaghetti westerns – a no man's land. With US soldiers and French peasants and the French resistance and German occupation troops, it was kind of a no man's land. That will really be my spaghetti Western but with World War II iconography. But the thing is, I won't be period specific about the movie. I'm not just gonna play a lot of Édith Piaf and Andrews Sisters. I can have rap, and I can do whatever I want. It's about filling in the viscera.
The director described the scale of the project:
It'll be epic and have my take of the sociological battlefield at that time with the racism and barbarism on all sides – the Nazi side, the American side, the black and Jewish soldiers and the French, because it all takes place in France.
In Nov. 2004 (13 years ago), the director decided to hold off production of Inglourious Basterds and instead movie a kung fu movie entirely in Mandarin. This project floundered too, and he ultimately directed a part of the 2007 (10 years ago) Grindhouse instead, returning to work on what was now renamed Inglourious Basterds after finishing promotion for Grindhouse.
ProductionTarantino teamed with The Weinstein Company to prepare what he planned to be his epic masterpiece for production. In sep. 2007 (10 years ago), The Irish Times reported the film's scheduled release for 2008 (9 years ago), writing, "Inglourious Basterds, a war movie that may eventually resemble The Dirty Dozen merged with Cross of Iron, has been predicted more often than the second coming of the Lord."
In Jul. 2008 (9 years ago), Tarantino and the Weinsteins set up an accelerated production schedule to be completed for release at the Cannes movie Festival in 2009 (8 years ago). The Weinstein Company co-financed the movie and distributed it in the United States. The company signed a deal with Universal pictures (wallpaper) to finance the rest of the movie and distribute it internationally. Germany and France were scheduled as filming locations. Filming was scheduled to begin on Oct. 13, 2008 (9 years ago), and shooting started that week. Special Effects were handled by K.N.B. EFX Group with Greg Nicotero. Much of the movie was shot and edited primarily in the famous Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam, Germany, the oldest large-scale movie studio in the world, and in Bad Schandau, a small village near the German border with the Czech Republic.
Following the film's screening at Cannes, Tarantino stated that he would be re-editing the movie in Jun. before its ultimate theatrical release, allowing him time to finish assembling several scenes that weren't completed in time for the hurried Cannes premiere.
ReceptionCritical reviews have, on the whole, been very positive, with the movie currently holding an 88% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus: "A classic Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, Inglourious Basterds is violent, unrestrained, and thoroughly entertaining".
Critic James Berardinelli gave the movie his first 4/4 star review of 2009 (8 years ago), stating, "With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has made his best movie since Pulp Fiction," and that it was "one hell of an enjoyable ride." Roger Ebert also gave the movie a four-star review, writing that "Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” is a big, bold, audacious war movie that will annoy some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he’s the real thing, a director of quixotic delights." Nick Jones of Palm Springs Guides, giving the movie 5/5, stated that "Quentin Tarantino’s 'Inglourious Basterds' is easily one of the most entertaining movies of the year." Anne Thompson of Variety praised the film, but opined that it was not a masterpiece, claiming, "Inglourious Basterds is great fun to watch, but the movie isn't entirely engaging... You don't jump into the world of the movie in a participatory way; you watch it from a distance, appreciating the references and the masterful mise-en-scene. This is a movie that will benefit from a second viewing."
Not all reviews have been positive. British critic Peter Bradshaw stated he was "struck... by how exasperatingly awful and transcendentally disappointing it is." Author and critic Daniel Mendelsohn was disturbed by the portrayal of Jewish-American soldiers mimicking German atrocities done to European Jews, stating, "In Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino indulges this taste for vengeful violence by—well, by turning Jews into Nazis."
The movie has met some criticism from Jewish press, as well. In Tablet, Liel Liebowitz criticizes the film's lack of moral depth. He argues that the power of movie lies in its ability to impart knowledge and subtle understanding, but Inglourious Basterds serves more as an "alternative to reality, a magical and Manichean world where we needn’t worry about the complexities of morality, where violence solves everything, and where the Third Reich is always just a movie reel and a lit match away from cartoonish defeat."
The reactions of critics at the Cannes premiere were mixed. The French newspaper Le Monde dismissed it, claiming, "Tarantino gets lost in a fictional World War II". However, the movie received an eight to eleven minute standing ovation by the critics after its first screening at Cannes. In particular, Christoph Waltz was singled out for Cannes honors, receiving the Best Leading Actor award at the end of the festival. Movie critic Devin Faraci of Chud.com stated: "The cry has been raised long before this review, but let me continue it: Christoph Waltz needs not an Oscar nomination but rather an actual Oscar in his hands.... he must have gold."
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