In honor of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie Inglourious Basterds, I thought it’d be cool to do a comparison with the movie it was inspired by: Inglorious Bastards. So, this review is like a twofer!
Inglorious Bastards is a 1978 Italian war movie directed by Enzo Castellari, starring Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson. The film follows a group of escaped army convicts who accidently kill a squad of Americans and inherit its suicide mission of hijacking a Nazi train full of advanced weaponry. This is a pretty standard “men on a mission” movie and has a light-hearted feel, even while hundreds of Nazi’s are being shot. It’s great to see former professional football player Fred Williamson gunning down rows of bad guys, always while laughing or smoking a cigar. Bo Svenson is also great as the convicts’ self-appointed leader. Director Castellari puts as much action as possible into the film, and somehow even manages to find room to throw some naked girls with machine guns in as well.
It’s Williamson and Svenson’s charisma that make this movie so much fun. It’s fast and fun and slightly forgettable, but good enough to check out. Not real thought-provoking stuff here, but a great sense of fun mixed with violence keeps it good. There is also an epic score by Francesco De Masi and giant explosions and great effects by Gino De Rossi. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.
The director Enzo Castellari first rose to fame in Italy with a string of successful spaghetti westerns. His films became known for their gunfights and amazing amounts of action, often filmed in slow motion to great effect. Through the years he has directed movies in almost every genre, from crime dramas to sci-fi and comedy, always with emphasis on action. Castellari makes a cameo in Inglorious Bastards as a Nazi general, and of course, Tarantino has him reprise the role in his version, which brings us to Inglourious Basterds.
Inglourious Basterds is the new war film from Quentin Tarantino that follows a group of freedom fighters and a young French woman as they separately hatch plans to kill many, many Nazis in a movie theater in France. Let me start by saying that this movie was great (hence the 4.5 star rating), and I actually think it might be Tarantino’s best. He’s managed to take a key scene in the original “Bastards” and center his version around it. Like I said, in the original there is a scene where the Bastards gun down a squad of Americans. This happens because the Americans are in full Nazi uniforms and are speaking German. Tarantino expands on this language barrier to develop some of the most tense scenes ever filmed. There are no less than four different languages heard in Basterds, and most of the movie is subtitled. This is something that Spielberg didn’t even deal with in Schindler’s List. It’s interesting that so many war movies ignore the language barrier issue all together, even as they try to be realistic. Inglourious Basterds puts language front and center to great effect.
The movie is divided into 5 chapters which are made up of a few very long dialogue sequences. Tarantino’s seems to have hit on something with this film that you can see the seeds of throughout his career. He’s always had long dialogue sequences, and some of them were very tense, but with the new film he has taken this to another level, all while playing with structure, violence, and interesting music (as usual). As an audience member, you are conscious of what he’s doing, and that actually makes the film stronger.
In the character Hans Landa, played by Christoph Waltz, Tarantino has created the most subtle evil person to ever grace the screens of mainstream theaters. Landa is nicknamed the “Jew Hunter” and is essentially a detective that uses deductive reasoning to stay at least three steps ahead of everyone else. Waltz owns every scene he’s in, and after seeing him in action, you almost forget about Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine and his gang of Nazi slaying basterds. On that note, Pitt and even actor/director Eli Roth do great jobs in their roles, but the film is so much more than that.
I could talk for a very long time about so many aspects of it, but in short, Tarantino has taken a seed planted in Castellari’s original, and turned it into something completely original, and completely amazing.
Scott Burton is a tireless composer and guitarist in Richmond. He writes reviews about obscure movies for RVANews, and he writes music about obscure movies for the avant jazz group Glows in the Dark.