AVAILABLE FOR THE FIRST TIME ON 4K, BLU-RAY™ AND DIGITAL ON OCTOBER 12, 2021 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
Quentin Tarantino’s WWII revisionist history, revenge-fantasy is now available in 4K HD
Below is a revised and updated version of my original review from when the film was released in 2009.
Greetings again from the darkness. Quentin Tarantino has directed three film since INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS exploded onto the screen: DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012, which won him a Best Screenplay Oscar), THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015), and ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD (2019). He claims he only ever intended to direct 10 movies, and says the next one – not yet announced – will be his last. This is sad news for lovers of his creative, often outlandish films that are nothing if not entertaining. Looking on the bright side, at least he will gift us one more!
Chapter 1 (of Five) plays like a mini-spaghetti western film short replete with perfect music, anticipation, tense stare downs, stellar word play, and a shootout and ultimate escape. Christoph Waltz won the Best Supporting Actor for immediately seizing his role as Colonel Landa, and never letting go. Landa envisions himself not as the “Jew Hunter” (a moniker he relishes, nonetheless), but rather as a super sleuth in line with Sherlock Holmes (hence the pipe).
Chapter 2 introduces us to the titular Basterds, led by Lt Aldo Raine. Brad Pitt plays the hillbilly ring leader of the Dirty Dozen-type band of Nah-Zee killers, and he’s quite menacing in a charming kind of way. Pitt’s exaggerated jaw and outlandish accent, coupled with his QT-penned dialogue, makes for one frightening character (a bit on the cartoonish side) on a singular mission. He’s hunting Nazis and “business is boomin’.”
The multiple story lines begin to intermingle in the following chapters, especially a fabulously intricate and nuanced tavern scene where Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbinder, and August Diehl are all phenomenal. The clever dialogue and approach remind a bit of RESERVOIR DOGS (1992), but with the subtle facial gestures and multi-lingual word play, it goes to a whole different level. Some thought this scene dragged, while I was mesmerized.
The finale at Melanie Laurent’s cinema is the most talked about segment of the film. The revisionist history stars with comedic interactions, is well paced, and delivers a fabulous ending of dramatic violent intimacy in the projection room and flamboyant special effects in the main theater where Hitler and Goebbels are seated. It also brings the film’s story full circle as it closes out Chapter 1. It’s not the film’s final scene, but certainly its climax.
There are so many movie references in the 153 minute run time that you can’t help but tip your cap to Mr. Tarantino, the ultimate movie geek. For us movie lovers, he’s something of an icon. He’s living out a fantasy and delivering just often enough to keep the fans happy. Of course he does manage to work in his foot fetish with Ms. Kruger, and Ms. Laurent in a red dress helped capture the feel of 40’s and 50’s femme fatales. Every character was perfectly cast.
While this one is not quite at the level of PULP FICTION, though surely more divisive, it remains a cinematic marvel. Not the most accurate of history lessons, although there is still a message that sneaks in. More importantly, the message of cinematic adoration can’t be missed.
Bonus Features include extended and alternate scenes, a conversation with Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, and Elvis Mitchell, an original short entitled NATION’S PRIDE, and a ‘making of’ featurette.