Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds was probably my most anticipated film of 2009, and it had been a long time coming. I remember first hearing about the idea of a Tarantino WWII film and wondered what that could look like. The end result surpassed even my already high expectations, cementing itself as one of my favourite theatre going experiences of the decade.
The idea of paying tribute to and ultimately elevating genre films seems to work quite well for Quentin. It succeeds because it’s done out of love. He approaches the material with a sincere sense of adoration where others might come off as condescending. His passion for the sort of simple storytelling laid out in some of his favourite exploitation films ends up providing the groundwork for which he builds upon, resulting in something fresh and exciting. Even though Inglourious Basterds plays pretty straight for the most part, you can still catch those moments where Tarantino can’t help but remind himself — and the audience — that what they’re watching was born out of exploitation.
Some people complained about the long scenes of talking throughout the film — often people who claim to love Tarantino’s dialogue — but I felt that putting Quentin’s wordplay to work in a suspenseful interrogative environment was a wonderful choice. In the case of Inglourious Basterds, the ‘bomb under the table’ is replaced by a piece of strudel, a shoddy German accent andâ€¦well, a bomb. It’s all about the perceptions and deception, whether it be a French man sheltering jews, a jew masquerading as a French cinema owner, American G.I.’s disguised as Italian stuntmen or German’s declaring false loyalty to the FÃ¼hrer; everybody’s got a secret, and Nazi Colonel Hans Landa — a man with an agenda of his own — is prepared to get to the bottom of it all.
Leone meets Hitchcock meets DePalma (Hitchcock by proxy), Inglourious Basterds is a fun, suspenseful, romantic, stylish and refreshing twist on the WWII film that easily holds a top five spot as one of my personal favourite films of the decade.
Check out previous entries from our Top 20 Films of the ’00s.