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'Inglorious Basterds' Turns History on its Head


Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is offering his own version of history in his World War II dark satire The Inglourious Basterds. Set in German-occupied France, the film follows a squad of eight Jewish American soldiers on a Nazi killing rampage. They are relentless, creative too. They scalp their enemies, spreading terror in Nazi ranks. As in his previous films, Tarantino weaves a fictional tale, violent yet intriguing and disturbingly funny.

Tarantino's clever dialogues and witty characters are mixed with unexpected, violent scenes. The combination is chilling. As in his previous films, the director pays homage to classics including Robert Aldrich's 1967 war film The Dirty Dozen.

The plot thickens when the Basterds hatch a plan to blow up a French movie theater during a Nazi film premiere. Bridget Von Hammersmart, a famous German actress and a double agent, has informed Lt. Raine that the senior leadership of the Third Reich will be attending.

Lt. Raine is confident he'll succeed in his mission. But he soon finds his match in Nazi Colonel Hans Landa, who oversees the gala. A brilliant investigator and cold executioner, Landa has aquired the nickname "The Jew Hunter." He has been hand-picked by Hitler to find Jews in hiding and kill them on the spot. His air of refinement and boyish charm hide his brutality. As Tarantino's embodiment of evil, Landa likens Jews to rats.

Tarantino wrote a young Jewish woman to avenge Jewish victims of the Third Reich. Shoshanna Dreyfus, played by French actress Melanie Laurent, is the sole survivor of a Landa raid. She flees to Paris, changes her name and becomes the owner of a small movie theater. The very one where, as fate would have it, the Nazi premiere is to take place.

Shoshanna plans to burn down the theater during the screening. Meanwhile, the brigade is planning its own attack.

The characters add intensity and intrigue to an unpredictable ending. Tarantino turns history on its head. The cinematography and attention to detail are as impressive as the cast.

Brad Pitt plays Lt. Raine and is the film's big name. But he is eclipsed by German-born Christoph Waltz who plays Hans Landa. Waltz won the Best Actor award in Cannes for this role and is already generating Oscar buzz.

Inglourious Basterds is one of Tarantino's best. If you're a fan, go see it. If you cannot stomach violence, there is no way around it. That's the director's trademark. No life is sacrosanct in Tarantino's film world and nothing is taken for granted.

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