August 20, 2009, - 1:30 pm

Movie of the Year: “Inglourious Basterds”

By Debbie Schlussel

I wish my brave, tough Holocaust survivor grandfather, Isaac, was alive to see “Inglourious Basterds.”


He would love it even more than I did.  So would my dad.  And they would be cheering and laughing along with me.

Because the movie debuts at Midnight screenings tonight, I am posting this review early, and you’ll note that I was entirely wrong in my expectations for this movie when I first wrote about it, back in February.  The movie is riveting.  It’s fun and serious at the same time.  And it’s thrilling.

It’s not usual that I praise a Quentin Tarantino film or a flick starring Brad Pitt.  I’m not a big fan of either.  But “Inglourious Basterds” is either the exception to the rule or a new beginning (probably the former, at least in the case of Pitt, who is very good here).  After two-and-a-half hours of this fantastic movie, I didn’t want it to end.  I wanted more.  So well done, so interesting, exciting, and suspenseful, it flew by.  Like “The Departed (read my review),” it’s a well-wrapped treasure, with new delights at each uncovered layer.  And a few puzzles, some of which aren’t answered but are designed to make you think.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this movie.

It’s that well done.  My only regrets are 1) that it’s not a true story; and 2) that no-one in Hollywood has the guts to do an “Inglorious Basterds” with Americans fighting our current enemy:  Muslim invaders who’ve also replaced their friends, the Nazis, as the thugs upon Europe.  If only Abu Steven Spielberg had had the guts to do “Munich” (read my review) like this.

“Basterds” is the story of an American commanding officer, Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt), from the south and his brigade of Jewish American soldiers sent to France to kill Nazis . . . and, yes, scalp them.  (Several of the actors who play them are Jewish in real life.)  But it’s also the story of Shoshanna Dreyfus, a French Jewish blonde who plots revenge on the Nazis who murdered her family of dairy farmers as they hid.  French actress, Melanie Laurent, who plays her is the real star of this movie, as is the frighteningly creepy Austrian actor, Christoph Waltz, as Nazi Col. Hans Landa.  (Diane Kruger is not bad as a German movie star and double agent.)

Those two stories intertwine to an exciting and fitting conclusion that is almost as satisfying as the famous “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scene, in which Nazis melt after countenancing the spirit of G-d emerging from the Ark of the Covenant.  And it’s very similar.

Yes, this movie is somewhat bloody and graphic (a couple of Nazi scalpings are shown as is a scene of “The Bear Jew” (Eli Roth) wailing on a Nazi’s head with a baseball bat–though that’s only briefly shown).  But the violence is for a reason:  it’s good against evil.  And it’s thoroughly satisfying.  I wish they showed even more.  I don’t apologize for cheering on the killing of Nazis.  They were inhuman.  And the treatment they got in this movie is the same way we should treat all of our enemies, but simply don’t have the guts to do so. It’s fun to see the SS and Gestapo members get well-merited permanent reminders of their days wearing the swastika.

Yes, parts of the movie are implausible and the Hitler actor, Martin Wuttke, doesn’t look as much like Hitler as in more dramatic films.  But this is a Quentin Tarantino film.  It’s gotta be somewhat comedic and funny (though the presence of Mike Myers as a British officer was a little much for me), and this had plenty of those moments (watch for Col. Landa’s pipe).

But it also had many moments of nail-biting suspense.  Will the Americans be found out by the Nazis?  Does Col. Landa recognize the Jew who escaped him years earlier?

It’s all done masterfully and has you rapt at attention.  Every scene was so well done, so interesting and exciting.

And even though the story isn’t true, some of it is based on truth, and I recommend you see the fabulous documentary,  “The Ritchie Boys (will try to post a review of that on this site, soon),” to learn more about real-life Jewish-American immigrants from Europe who returned as undercover U.S. Army sabotage and intelligence specialists. ( One of them, Guy Stern, is a friend of my family, and one of the producers is my lifelong friend, David Karp.)

I don’t want to say much more about “Inglourious Basterds,” because to do so would give away the movie.  But if you are an American who is proud of your country, or a WWII buff, or a Jew or other hater of Nazis who wants to see revenge wrapped in a very well-told story, this is your movie.

It was like reading a great novel on the beach in summer.  The clothes, the sets, the lines, the characters–every attention to detail is so well captured in this attempt at encapsulating German film at the time and many World War II movies that have been done since.

Go see this movie (but don’t take your kids–it’s rated “R” for a reason).  And tell every one else to see it, too.

For me, “Inglourious Basterds” is the movie of the year.  I doubt anything I see between now and New Years Day will top it.

Vengeance is under-rated.  As this movie shows in spades, it’s a thrill.


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61 Responses

I’m pretty sure Debbie is a nazi.

Charles Xavier on June 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    What an intelligent & witty comment on the subject matter.

    “When you have no basis for argument, abuse the plantiff.”…Cicero

    That’s all you got, “Professor Dreck?” Hopefully, Hugo Stiglitz pay you a visit soon. Only a regressive would post such an idiotic comment on a movie review. A regressive or a Ru Paul voter.

    Con Chef (NB) on December 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm

How very sad of you, Deborah, to indulge in such base hatred. I really want to like you, though I’m finding it to be quite the task.

Greg on December 8, 2011 at 6:01 am

filthy jew getting thrills over a movie showing some faggot jew actors killing unarmed nazis, too bad its not real right you jew fuck. nazism will come again and all you jews will get what you deserve

SIEGHEIL on August 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I had the PRIVILEGE of attending the UK premier of Inglorious Basterds! Having seen the trailers i had high hopes but had doubts due to a string of self indulgent films (c’mon lets be honest, self indulgence is his tarantinos middle name)

I was surprised to find though that he had pulled the cat out of the bag with this one. The film is rich with interesting dialogue, Perfect timed comedy with a dash of brutal assassination.

The crowning glory of this film though lies with Christoph Waltz whom no fault or error can be found. He manages to create a real tension in the audience whilst remaining quite “theatrical” (couldn’t think of a better word). He definitely deserved his prize at Cannes

Susu on January 4, 2015 at 10:12 am

Mrs. Schlussel, there are neo nazis on this website. Why are they bothering you?! I hate seeing Neo Nazis. They’re harassing you. At least they’re not hijacking your site.

Robyn on November 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm

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