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Review

Alternate history WWII film impresses reviewers

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September 17, 2009

For this new movie reviewer, a weekend like this couldn’t come fast enough.

The official first review.

Filled with anticipation and a mild case of the nerves, I looked forward to writing about any Hollywood blockbuster. The trouble was which one would I choose? Luckily for me, my friends say the darndest things.

“Katie! Wanna go see Basterds?!”

Now normally a question like this is not one I jump all over in response to. Indeed, I usually try and stay away from bastards as much as possible in my everyday life.

Yet I must admit that on this past Friday evening, I felt nothing could be better than getting to meet some.

I am of course, speaking of none other than Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious ones. To my great surprise and delight, I have discovered that when it comes down to it, Tarantino can make a basterd as lovable as any non-basterd around.

For a good two and half hours of my evening, I was in Nazi occupied France with a Jewish refugee (Shosanna Dreyfus), a sadistic German Colonel (Hans Landa), and a bunch of American-Jewish soldiers (The Basterds) out for revenge. The story begins with Shosanna’s family being brutally murdered, and Shosanna herself just escaping Col. Landa. Fleeing eventually to Paris, she takes over the running of a small cinema. While there, she meets German war hero Fredrick Zoller who, quite taken by Shosanna, promises to premiere his film at her cinema. When it is discovered that only the highest-ranking members of the Nazi party will be in attendance, Shosanna sees an opening for revenge. The Basterds (led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt)), who have up until now been killing and scalping as many “damn Nazis” as they can up and down the countryside eventually catch wind of the premiere and its audience, seeing and opportunity to cash in as well. The resulting night is one of clashing plans (and bodies), and a rewrite of history that will not likely be forgotten quickly. While the movie’s plot created the suspense and anticipation expected of such a film, it was the development of the characters that proved to be a true highlight.

Indeed, the growth of each, especially that of Shosanna, Landa, and Raine made this movie the dark and deeply comedic piece of work it was. The range of emotions felt for each was undeniable: one could feel sorrow and suddenly hysterical humor in an instant-quite a feat, considering the topic. Tarantino’s ability to connect the viewer to the characters and their situations is remarkable. Not gone unnoticed was the tremendous camera and musical work done for the film as well. A mixture of contemporary and vintage, scenes varied in angle and layout, making them fit the emotion one was supposed to feel. This was doubly important during both the bar scene and premiere night where already as the audience, you felt on the edge of your seat, waiting to either laugh out loud or remain open-mouthed in shock. Enhancing these feelings even more was the music selection, which quite simply put is eclectic. Ranging from classical to Bowie, it seems no detail went unnoticed in how it would shape the audience’s feelings.

For this novice, clearly the start out the gate was one that came up dark, seedy, and hysterical. Though not usually my type, it seems that a group of Basterds has won my heart. Through excellent character development, layout and musical work, Tarantino has created a fine film that focuses on a turbulent time in a beautifully sardonic way. As for Basterds, have I changed my mind? Well with four stars, I guess.

I could maybe make a few exceptions, glorious or not…

Katie Heaton is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.