Analysing the Basterds [sic]

I really didn’t want to believe it. Wouldn’t films that follow rules just seem formulaic? How could following the “rules” still produce a good film after over 100 years of cinematography? I hoped it wouldn’t work but as I completed this ds06 assignment, I realized it was more true than I thought!

Week 7’s assignment encouraged us to

Write a blog post that explains your selection by identifying key scenes that use some of the elements described by Roger Ebert in his article “How to Read a Movie” essay

As I started to think about movies I liked, I came up with just about everything by Quentin Tarantino. Yes, there tends to be a lot of violence in his films and, as someone who doesn’t generally condone gratuitous violence, I find it amazing how much I enjoy his movies. I am always really impressed with how he can often make me laugh at what should be the most inappropriate times (i.e. often in the midst of a very violent act).

I decided to see what clips I could find of Inglourious Basterds. Since I was really impressed with Christoph Waltz in this film, I watched one of his opening scenes and couldn’t believe that it followed Ebert’s rules to a T! Maybe that’s the genius of Tarantino – combining very familiar camera work with an complex character, setting and/or plot.

Following the Rules

In the movie, Colonel Landa is both charming and evil. In this early scene that dichotomy is set up according to Ebert et al’s rules:

I neglected to mention that Colonel Landa is constantly moving in and out of the light. This is confusing as the audience isn’t completely certain if he is a good or evil character.

Although I couldn’t find a version of this scene with English subtitles, maybe it’s better that way – you can see the full effect of the visuals and the music regardless of the dialogue.

Great opening sequence!

Breaking the Rules

Part of this assignment was to also determine and justify the genre. Is this possible with a Tarantino movie?! My best attempt would be to go with “Alternate History”. This is a Tarantino re-visioning of World War 2 that, thankfully, allows for some complex characters that are neither wholly good nor wholly evil. The world is rarely black and white; it is usually many shades of grey.

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