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Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds: Movie Review

Three and a half stars
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rated: R
Directed by:
Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger
, Michael Fassbender, Til Schweiger, Daniel Bruhl, Jacky Ido
Released by: Universal Pictures

In Short: Quentin Tarantino’s lengthy World War Two fairy tale is sometimes violent and often comical, but it's ultimately a satisfying retelling of the outcome of that epic struggle between good and evil.
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Re-imagining World War Two

As writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds begins, he tells us immediately that its story is not real. Instead, he asks us to get ready for a fairy tale version, a re-imagining if you like, of the key events of World War Two, by launching his film with the words “Once upon a time . . .”

By the time the end credits roll, with this slightly nutty and offbeat flick Tarantino has offered up an extremely satisfying alternative to the reality of world history. The film follows two stories. First up, in an opening sequence that drags on a bit too long, the tale of Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) begins. She’s a French Jew who escapes a murderous Nazi named Landa (Christoph Waltz), only to encounter him four years later in Paris, while posing as a Gentile who owns a movie theater. Meanwhile, in a parallel tale, we meet a ruthless band of American Jews known as the “Basterds,” led by a part-Apache Southern cracker (played with verve by Brad Pitt) who infiltrate behind German lines in France and begin systematically “killin’ Nazis” and even taking their scalps.

Jacky Ido and Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds

Violent, brutal, and often very funny, the fairy tale that Inglourious Basterds tells is not for the faint of heart. It’s typical of most of Tarantino’s films in that blood and gore are fundamental to the story, but it differs from his most recent works like Kill Bill and Death Proof in that the violence here is more rooted in reality.

Tarantino has a blast sending up the Nazi high command, offering up a paranoid Hitler, an egomaniacal Goebbels, and an assortment of overstuffed others that meet their fate in the beautiful old Parisian movie theater that Shoshanna owns. And the film boasts what is probably one of the most satisfying endings of any World War Two film ever made: one that will have Jews and Gentiles alike walking away from the flick with smiles on their faces, while at the same time pondering how different the world would be if Tarantino’s vision of the dénouement of that fateful war had actually been the reality.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

PKR070909 (Updated: 08/20/09AER)

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