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Insensitive Basterds
by Johnny Milner
2009-10-21 07:39:12
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inglourious_basterds_int_poster_400There is no doubt that the Holocaust is a very delicate matter for many people. So sensitive in fact that if publicly questioned, trivialized or poked fun at - serious consequences can occur. The so called Revisionist Scholars, who are known around the world for questioning the notion that the Nazis attempted to exterminate all European Jewry, have suffered legal punishment and various types of abuse - even in countries that take pride in being “free societies”. Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson was kicked out of Argentina, where he ran a seminary, for his comments and beliefs regarding Semitism and a recent on-air Holocaust slur by the Australian radio presenter Kyle Sandilands resulted in a strict disciplinary action. He was immediately suspended and forced to publicly apologise. These are just a few amongst countless examples of people receiving harsh treatment for violating the sacred nature of the Holocaust.

Having said this it is interesting to note that the new Quinton Tarantino flick Inglorious Basterds – a film which trivializes the Holocaust in a very concerning way - does not raise a single question in regards to sensitivity and instead the film has achieved critical appraisal and high esteem from all corners of society.

Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino’s take on WW II or more specifically “once upon a time in Nazi occupied France”. The film glorifies the predicament of the Jews – portraying them in an empowered fashion– ultra violent and merciless. Led by Brad Pitt (a descendent of an Indian Apache), the squad of Jewish American soldiers AKA the Nazi Hunters seek out SS officials and violently bash their brains in and then scalp their heads as trophies. 

This is a very naïve film. Ah, but ibaster01_400ts Tarantino – its art per say and will no doubt be marveled at in film schools everywhere. In fact there is nothing original about Tarantino’s style. The same ideas circulate in every one of his films.

His trademark devices such as ruptured narrative, aestheticization of violence, elongated dialogue sequences, cinematic references and fragmented pop soundtracks are not as revolutionary as people think and have been thoroughly explored by many predating directors and with far more craft and tact e.g. Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick and Jen Luc Goddard.

What is most concerning about Inglorious Basterds is how hard it tries to manipulate the audience. Throughout the film we are made to loathe and detest the Nazis, but it’s all worthwhile because there is a payoff at the end, the audience gets what they want. They get retribution; they get Jewish revenge porn - a full 10 minutes of Nazi execution. All the top dogs are taken out, Hitler, Himmler, Gobbels etc.

The concept of rewriting the course of history in film can be very interesting but this is a serious violation of creative license. The atrocities that took place during WWII were horrendous; the Jews were victims not sadistic killers. Tarantino’s kitsch comic book humour and violence is neither sensitive nor purposeful in this context. Its extraordinary that people could be so offended by Kyle Sandilands on-air slip of the tongue or then Mel Gibson saying a few anti-semitic comments in a drunken rage, but not raise an eyebrow to this film - aside from a few concerns about the Swastika being publicly displayed on the movie poster  (in my opinion that is the least of the film’s problems regarding sensitivity).


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Emanuel Paparella2009-10-21 14:05:50
Insightful comments on an inglorious movie pandering to mindlessness and the worst instincts of human nature. It is a sad commentary on our civilization when the likes of Quentin Tarantino proceed to rewrite history and then laugh all the way to the bank.

For another similarly thoughtful take on this shameful movie see Frederic Raphael’s review in the on line Commentary magazine which begins by branding Tarantino as “the reigning schlockmeister of the cinema,” and ends with this thought: “Going to Inglourious Basterds reminded me of Lina Wertmüller’s Seven Beauties, in which a concentration-camp inmate commits liberating suicide by leaping into a lake of sewage. Tarantino makes an even bigger splash by getting us all to pay to jump into an ocean of his own effluent from which he and Harv alone emerge, with $$ carved in their foreheads.” Indeed. To read the whole review by Raphael see the link below:


Gaby2009-10-22 15:28:40
A very interesting review indeed.

golly2009-10-23 07:07:58
An excellent review

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