Revenge is a dish best never served at all.

9
Jan
2010

Tonight my friends Fabien, Craig and I rented Inglourious Basterds, the latest Quentin Tarantino film.  Although I am somewhat a fan of Tarantino and could appreciate many elements in the film, overall I found the premise to be repulsive. What is it about this Tarantino film that bothers me so much more than others? I suppose that the violence in his other films is more cartoon like, not based in history, and easier to accept as comic book. This film is set in a kind of alternate reality version of WWII, in occupied France. It tells the story of a Jewish advance strike force that kills (and scalps) Nazis, striking terror into them (supposedly the same terror struck by the Nazis into others). While it might be an emotionally satisfying movie for teenage boys or those that feel intense impotence in the face of the atrocities of history, I found its glorification of violent vengeance to be repugnant. Call me a pacifist, but I do believe that violence only leads to more violence. I do believe that adopting the worst atrocities and actions of one’s enemies only makes one like them. I’m sure those that condone torture and capital punishment thought this film was just a stitch. Wallowing in this kind of revenge fantasy, even while knowing it is a fantasy, encourages the worst, basest elements in human nature. It cheapens the true horrors that happen all over the world, and mocks decency.

Comments

  1. Tom F says:

    I think we wrote alternate reviews of “Inglourious” at about the same time and wow, did we see it differently! It was one of my favorite movies of the year. I thought this was less about the action and more about the characters, particularly Hans and Shosanna. For me, the history was more of a backdrop for these characters. I have to say, though, that I am a huge Tarentino fan and I love the way he takes ridiculous but sometimes close-to-real-but-not-quite violence and makes you laugh at it. Tarentino is the master at mocking decency and mocking horror too. You’re not sure whether to laugh or throw up. For me, that’s twistedly entertaining. But what made this movie satisfying to me was character development, which is a lot of this film. This was not action packed, at least by QT standards. There was ton of dialogue in between the plot twists and that part, the characters, was the movie that I enjoyed. Just my two cents!

  2. Stephen says:

    Actually, I thought this film was weak by Tarantino standards overall, with one notable exception. There are several scenes of intensely building tension (low or no action) that are extremely well played. But I am still troubled by the premise, and I really found the character development to be subpar overall.

  3. Christa says:

    Amen. Tom described beautifully why I just can’t even watch Tarantino movies: “you’re not sure whether to laugh or throw up.” I lost my stomach for violence when I had my first kid almost 17 years ago and now knowing my kids’ friends are entertained by this stuff leaves me feeling even sicker. Sigh…