Inglourious Basterds: Get Some.

Jmaurone's picture
Submitted by Jmaurone on Sat, 2009-08-29 21:54

There are those who would say that a movie such as this is the wrong way to think about WWII, and are in favor of taking the "moral high road." There are even people who would say that we should even forgive Hitler for his atrocities.

Those people are dead wrong.

(Originally published at Superhero Babylon)

Tarantino and Roth finally put their propensity for violence to good use. I know there are many who will decry this movie for the baseball-bat clubbings, the scalping of the SS soldiers, and the finger-in-the-bullet wound routine. But these acts of violence are acts of vengeance, against the most brutal regime ever to terrorize the earth. What's interesting is that the Holocaust is not mentioned by name, implied rather than stated. There are no pictures of concentration camps, no skeletal figures, nothing to show the mass genocide of the Jews by the Nazis. This is crucial to understanding this movie.

There are those who would say that a movie such as this is the wrong way to think about WWII, and are in favor of taking the "moral high road." There are even people who would say that we should even forgive Hitler for his atrocities.

Those people are dead wrong.

It's a weird morality that rewards evil with forgiveness. It's a weird morality that would say it's OK to depict the plight of the Jews in order to garner sympathy, but not to show the perpetrators of their suffering getting theirs. They say that justice, not vengeance, is the way to go. When we see the depiction of Jews suffering in concentration camps, or in line to the ovens, that act of pathos is used to invoke pity, sympathy, and empathy. That is the New Testament way, the Christian way of seeing things. We are asked to identify with the victims, to "feel their pain." But, then, what are we supposed to do with that feeling? Anymore, we are asked to identify with the suffering of the Nazis, as well. Because, like, you know, they are people, too...

But not here. That would not be the Tarantino way. Instead, as in his other films, the heroes, those "Inglourious Basterds, go "Old Testament" on those Nazi asses...

How can the Jews not have justice without vengeance? What a strange dichotomy...one that Inglourious Basterds recognizes. We get a few scenes of sympathetic Nazis, one with a newborn son, the other a lovestruck war hero. We are tempted to identify with them, sympathize with them, even hope that there is hope for them...go ahead...I dare you...On the other hand, we don't get the standard of today's heroism where the hero is shown in therapy over his actions, racked with guilt over the loss of his humanity. Is this simply a cartoony return to the black and white hats of the "John Wayne" style of filmaking? Or a suggestion of the lack of introspection on the part of the Basterds? In the hands of Alan Moore, "Aldo the Apache" would be simply a psychopath, like Rorschach, Watchmen's leftist take on Steve Ditko's Randian-styled hero, The Question. But it should be noted that the backwoods, half-redneck, half-Injun Aldo, despite his poor grammatical skills, is uncorrupted by modern academic pseudo-psychological destruction of man's mind, or untainted by religious guilt, which is very important, given that he's leading a band of Jewish soldiers. This reason for this is not explained, so I will simply speculate, based on my own frustration of hearing about the Holocaust when I was younger, frustrated that the Jews didn't do MORE to fight back. I never understood passivity of that nature, but knowing what I do know about religion and philosophy and academia, I see this as saying that if your beliefs, your ideas, your religion prevent you from fighting back, from claiming your right to exist on this planet, the only thing can save you, at that point, is that "instinct" that comes from the so-called "selfish gene"...Aldo may not be "intellectual," but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that justice, in cases such as the Third Reich, requires an uncompromising violence.

There are those who would say that the price of vengeance is the moral corruption of the one seeking revenge. There are rules, to be sure, and without a proper philosophy and morality, there is the danger of becoming the very thing you hate. But the real danger is allowing the evil to continue. So let's just say, without giving anything away, that I was quite satisfied with the outcome of a certain necessary evil of dealing with the devil...

But back to the main point: the fact that the movie doesn't mention the Holocaust. Because we've all been made quite aware of the Holocaust, there's no need to depict it so graphically on the screen anymore...right? Matter of fact, it would border on sadistic/masochistic to continue doing so, right? For all the complaints of violence in Tarantino's films, you have to acknowledge the hypocrisy of continue to show the suffering of the victims while crying over acts of vengeance, or decrying the mutilation of the Nazis...right? "Never again"....right?

The best part of the movie for me, in comparison to the other "heroic" movies of an otherwise dismal summer-blockbuster season, was the explosion scene. In those other movies, the setup did not justify the payoff. But here, the explosions are not simply "Michael Bay" blowups, it's an integral part of the plot. So it was revealing to hear those in the audience who cheered at the end, a few who, I'm sure, were Jewish. But the most revealing part, for me, was AFTER the movie; overhearing a couple walking away in shock, the guy commented that he was disturbed that the audience cheered at the end.

I'm guessing he wasn't Jewish. Or, maybe I'm wrong, and he has never heard of the Holocaust...

Inglourious Basterds. Get some.


Another film that comes to mind

Landon Erp's picture

A few years ago there was a made for cable film "Uprising" dramatizing the Warshaw Ghetto Uprising. It's heart wrenching at times, there's a scene in the beginning of a happy pre-war Jewish family in their living room in the morning before school/work. Every prop that shows up in this room makes its own chilling reappearance later in the film and most of the family do not survive.

But what sticks with you is the idea of how a small band of Jews with illegal guns hold off the Nazis from their little ghetto longer than the Polish army did.

---Landon

Defiance

Jmaurone's picture

Just watched it this afternoon. While good in its own right, it really can't be compared to INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. One's a true story, and the other a revenge fantasy. The pairing of the two movies is more interesting in their differences than their similarities. But since DEFIANCE came out before IG...well, the best way to sum it up is that in the world of WWII movies, DEFIANCE is "BC," and IG is "AD" (IG as "AD" in the sense of representing the year that Holocaust movies changed...but on the flip-side, IG is more "old testament" in its style of vengeance.) For me, it seems like DEFIANCE didn't quite live up to its name (still bound by conventional thought). It could have been a little more "defiant" for my taste, and with less handwringing (it's unsaid, but it seemed to insinuate that more responsibility and accountability was required than that shown in Hiroshima with the insistence to "take only their weapons" bit. But there was something building in there that seemed to open the door for what Tarantino would eventually say, namely the scene where the Nazi is beat to death by the villagers as they name their lost loved ones. Daniel Craig's character walks away in disgust at the spectacle, but knows that he cannot stop it.

Former bloody dictators become the new rock stars!

Marcus's picture

An Aids-awareness advert depicting Adolf Hitler having unprotected sex has been condemned by mainstream health charities for stigmatising people infected with the virus.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new...

The thoughts of Chairman Mao (starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li)

As China prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, a new blockbuster tells the story of its founding. Naturally, the nation's biggest movie stars took part, as Clifford Coonan reports from Beijing


Jackie Chan plays a journalist in a scene from The Founding of a Republic.

http://www.independent.co.uk/n...

Two more:

Robert's picture

Escape from Sobibor (Rutger Hauer won a Golden Globe for it) and Exodus. Then there are the novels by Leon Uris: Mila 18 and Exodus .

Defiance

Jmaurone's picture

I've yet to see that, but it looks good.

Defiance

Jeff Perren's picture

The film Defiance with Daniel Craig does that, and does it superlatively.

The Atlantic

Jeremy's picture

The August Atlantic Monthly has a great interview with Tarantino in which he explains exactly what Joe says: he wanted to make a film in which Jews during the Holocaust were not starving, wandering, helpless crowds of biddable, intellectual "heebs" a la Schindler's List and The Pianist, but vengeful, strong agents of violence and retribution for the world and themselves. No reductions, no "Jewish" guilt or doubt, but simply...letting the Bear Jew do his thing. So to speak.

Thanks

Jmaurone's picture

Mindy and Fred. Smiling

Ellis link

Jmaurone's picture

apparently was wrong. Too late to edit original post, here's the link: http://www.rebt.ws/recentartic.... Hat tip to WSS.

Jmaurone

seddon's picture

My wife and I saw the movie and I have nothing to add to what you wrote. You said it all and said it well. KILL THEM NAZIS. And if you have to leave one alive for any reason, crave the Basterd.

Fred

You pinned it, Joe,

Ptgymatic's picture

That's what ticked off Rosie about Strangs' posts--he held himself above the mindless enjoyments of the crowd! He showed pride in himself, and she damned him as "Darcy," for it, (a comparison that is more a compliment than an insult, but there's no point trying to point that--or anything--out to believers.)

Mindy

Certainly is

Jmaurone's picture

Like I said before...revealing. Even more revealing how people like Ellis can apologize for Hitler while going after Rand and Objectivism so strongly...as if Objectivism was a greater evil than the Holocaust. All is forgivable except for pointing out the unforgivable...

This is a fantastic appendix, Joe

Jameson's picture

... to the catalogue of evil being opened on various other threads. Dare I say it's an immaculate interjection. Smiling

"[Hitler] was a fallible, very disturbed individual who often acted abominably a person who did evil but not a totally evil man."

Give you the warm and fuzzies, Rosie? Feel the love do you, Richie?

Bigger fish...

Jmaurone's picture

Albert Ellis should have had a front row seat. From http://www.rebt.ws/recentartic...

"Throughout the day, he held forth on a range of topics, from tolerance (“I don’t damn any person, including Stalin, Hitler, and President Bush”) to self-esteem (“the worst sickness known to man or woman, because it says, ‘I did well, therefore I am good,’ which means that when I do badly — back to shithood for me”)..."

• "I don't damn any person, including Stalin, Hitler and President Bush."
Yes, but Green's article on me and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy forgot
to add, "I do damn and actively work against many of their thoughts,
feelings and behaviors."

Dr. ELLIS: "We say that nothing is awful, nothing. Rape, incest, terrorism, Hitler--it isn't awful."

or
G: You say in effect that you didn't damn Hitler, although you did damn his actions and worked vigorously against them.

A: Yes. To this day, especially in New York at my Friday night workshops where many of the participants are Jewish people, they get horrified when I say that Hitler wasn't a louse. He was a fallible, very disturbed individual who often acted abominably a person who did evil but not a totally evil man.

It's clear who the REAL "basterds" are...

sweet, sweet love...

sharon's picture

"There are even people who would say that we should even forgive Hitler for his atrocities."

Woo-hoo, Rosie, you are being called. Smiling

Thanks, Jameson

Jmaurone's picture

Thanks, Jameson.

"I know there are many who

strangs's picture

"I know there are many who will decry this movie for the baseball-bat clubbings, the scalping of the SS soldiers, and the finger-in-the-bullet wound routine. But these acts of violence are acts of vengeance, against the most brutal regime ever to terrorize the earth."

Then those individuals shouldn't watch the movie in the first place, especially if they are already familiar with Tarantino's style, e.g. Pulp Fiction. If only the people who detest such movie violence would be as outspoken with regard to totalitarian brutality.

It looks like a good movie; then again, I'm a Tarantino fan in general.

Nice take, Joe

Jameson's picture

"But the most revealing part, for me, was AFTER the movie; overhearing a couple walking away in shock, the guy commented that he was disturbed that the audience cheered at the end.
I'm guessing he wasn't Jewish. "

He was probably a Christian...

"I can feel love for Hermann Goering." ~ Rosie

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