Last night, as I was going to bed (Or was it at some point in the middle of the night, when I woke up? Or even this morning?), I recalled the film “Inglorious Basterds”, and had a slight desire to watch it. I have seen it already, but this film and I have a sort of special connection, and for various reasons.
For one thing, I first saw the beginning of it on my first trip to France, on my Freshman year JanTerm in Cannes – a sort of momentous occasion, its being my first time there and all. One of the students working at our dorm’s café was all excited about watching it, and got us all to sit around to watch it at the café. After only a few minutes, I was uninterested in the film, and I left (as I recall).
A few years later, I finally watched the whole film, though I forget currently when and how. So, it was meant to be comedic and historical and action-filled. Got it. Now I’d seen it, so I didn’t have to see it again.
Then, while living in Vienna (though that part’s somewhat irrelevant), I saw two films that I loved. The first was “Keinohrhasen”, with the German actor Til Schweiger. I fell in love with the film, and has a soft spot for Til because of it. Then, I saw in theaters the film “Django Unchained”. I somewhat fell in love with the German character of the film, played by Christoph Waltz, who is Austrian-German himself. By calling to mind before the start of the film that this was a Quentin Tarantino film, I was able to enjoy the full beauty and glory of the artistry that was “Django Unchained”.
Once back in the States, however, I recalled that I had not given just perspective to “Inglorious Basterds” as a Quentin Tarantino marvel, but had judged it relative to the average film. (I grew up in love with Kill Bill, you see, and learned QT’s style of gore and revenge and all that, somehow learning to enjoy and appreciate it because of the setting and story that was Kill Bill, probably with a bit of guidance from my brother Michael, who had shown me the films in the first place.) So, I decided it was high time to watch the film again, though this time as a Quentin Tarantino film, instead of a regular one.
And so I did. However, allow me to point out the setting of this film: WWII in Germany and France (or, at least, a France filled with Germans), with Americans interspersed. When the movie began, it took me about ten minutes (?) to realize that something was amiss… or, at least, something felt like it must be amiss.
I eventually realized (and even had to pause the film for the extreme laughter that arose from within me) that it was the fact that I was completely missing the subtitles. I was not, however, missing the dialogue. I was just merely ignoring, nay, not even noticing the subtitles, because I simply understood what was being said. The laughter came suddenly and from deep within – it was like this film was made for me, in a sense. I now spoke decent French and German (and still fantabulous English, of course), and this movie played back and forth between my three main languages. It was a perfect mix of cultures and language for my language-loving mind.
Now, that was great, but it got even better. Then, I found Christoph Waltz AND Til Schweiger in the film. Add that all to the expectation of Quentin Tarantino’s style, as well as the gorgeous Brad Pitt (yeah, I have a soft spot for him, too), and I was in love with the film.
You’d think that’d be enough to have a special bond with a film, but there’s one more bit to it all, and a rather profound one at that. Seeing this film shortly after seeing Django had me notice something quite peculiar. In Django, Christoph Waltz was quite obviously ‘the good guy’ of the film. He had obvious morals that were oh-so-lacking in the other characters, plus he was totally BA* with his skills and tactics and sense of style. In a way, in the time and place of Django, being German was ideal, and being American was kind of terrible. (Do you see where this is going?)
Now, look at “Inglorious Basterds”. Are the roles not 100% switched? Christoph Waltz, whose character once was somewhat idolized for his status of being German, now was considered the worst of the worst in morals because he was German. And the Americans were appropriately on the high ground this time. Had it been another actor, I’m not sure I would have made quite the same connection. But I found it amazing that this one man – and yes, I am aware that Christoph Waltz was not present for any of these actual periods of history, but just roll with it – could, at one point in time, be honored and respected for being himself (German), and, at the next, be despised and hated for being himself (German).
And so, I have this forever attachment and special relationship with “Inglorious Basterds”, which also inevitably drags along a bit of moral contemplation on the mentality of the human species throughout the course of human events (especially conflict). And, of course, Christoph Waltz. None of this would have truly linked together so well without his wonderful collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, as well as his total enrollment in the characters he played (I truly loved the one, and was distraught by his death, and despised the other, hoping throughout the film for his immediate death.). Nods and hats off to you, sir. And Quentin Tarantino – you’re awesome, too, sir.