Some Seriously Glourious Basterds

Author:
Publish date:

Okay, I know I'm a little behind the bandwagon on this, but I FINALLY got around to seeing Inglourious Basterds tonight, and I have to say...

THAT IS AN AWESOMELY BAD-ASS MOVIE.

I'm not usually a huge Quentin Tarantino fan... I like him, but I always feel like he recycles his same bag of tricks, and he never feel like he lives up to the hype. Pulp Fiction was good, Reservoir Dogs was okay, I hated Jackie Brown, and I only saw Part One of Kill Bill.

But Inglourious Basterds... is easily-- for me, anyway-- his best movie to date.

For those of you who don't know the story, it's a piece of revisionist history about a group of renegade American soldiers dropped into France to hunt, kill, and literally scalp Nazis.

The event at the heart of the story is the upcoming premiere of Joseph Goebbell's newest film, so like all Tarantino's movies, this is as much a celebration of film as it is its own work. Yet while Basterds is the movie most blatantly about movies, it's also the movie where Tarantino is finally applying his traditional cinematic tricks and moves to something culturally and historically larger than pop culture and film. I mean, maybe it's just a typical movie disguised in a Nazi-France costume, but it certainly felt to me like he was growing as an artist.

Also, there was lots of great violence.

Like, great violence. (The final, terrificly bloody scene is some off-the-charts wish fulfillment. And the build-up to the climax is so tense I was literally gasping and convulsing in my seat.)

What most impressed me from a screenwriting standpoint, however, was how LONG many of the scenes were. One scene, in particular, takes places over drinks and a card-guessing game in a basement bar. In this scene, which is probably 10-15 minutes, the Basterds-- disguised as SS officers-- are meeting their contact, a German actress/spy. Unfortunately, a real Nazi suspects these guys are imposters and decides to join them for a drink.

The scene that unfolds-- the men getting to know each other, playing a card game, etc.-- plays out very similarly to how it would play out if these were simply civilian strangers meeting for the first time. But because we know the SS officers are Basterds... and because we suspect the Nazi knows, too... the scene is laden with an inherent tension that sustains for it 10-12 minutes longer than any other movie would dare to try. The dialogue itself, while snappy and witty, isn't what carries the scene; it's the latent tension, the danger brewing because we know these men's secret. It's an incredible scene-- and a terrific lesson in how the right dramatic information, carefully placed, can hold an audience's attention for as long as it needs to. Not many other filmmakers could pull that off.

Anyway, if you haven't seen it... DON'T MISS IT. It's probably my second-favorite movie this year (just behind Up, which is so mind-blowingly wonderful I can't talk about it without spending another two hours at the computer).

P.S. Inglourious Basterds also deserves a nod for coolest use of a Bowie song...

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Dulan_1:14

On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.

Brandt_1:14

Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.

plot_twist_story_prompts_moment_of_doubt_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.

dr_caitlin_oconnell_finding_connection_and_community_in_animal_rituals_author_spotlights

Caitlin O'Connell: Finding Connection and Community in Animal Rituals

In this post, Dr. Caitlin O'Connell shares what prompted her to write a book about finding connection and community in animal rituals, what surprised her in the writing process, and much more!