Inglourious Basterds

ADVENTURE; 2hr 32min

STARRING: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Brühl

That's a knife: from left, Eli Roth and Pitt

The era is the 1940s, the Nazis are occupying France and writer-director Quentin Tarantino re-imagines history with the zestfulness that he brings to everything he does. The Basterds, as their enemies like to call them, are a crackpot, self-appointed Nazi wipeout squad of Jewish-American soldiers under the command of hardboiled Southerner Lt Aldo Raine (Pitt). They love nothing better than to kill and scalp their quarry, which they do with the breezy cachet of a sadistic travelling circus. Very Tarantino.


In a parallel development, having narrowly escaped execution with the rest of her family at the behest of Nazi Col. Hans Landa (Waltz, as indelibly precise as a smiling viper), French fugitive Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent) is operating a Paris cinema under an assumed name. There, she takes the fancy of German soldier and propaganda movie star Fredrick Zoller (Brühl). What with one loopy thing and another, this leads to a destruction plot of epic proportions by Shoshanna.


Tarantino is playing with a bigger deck than usual, but he’s playing with the same old impish spark. Inglourious Basterds flies on its fine-tuned dialogue — much of it in German and French — its agile way with a frankly colossal plot and the thrilling, tension-ratcheting touches that stamp it as a freewheeling one-off.