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Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds – An Interpretation

They sure kill a lot of Nazis. That’s probably the immediate description one would give of the film. Then one could go on describing specific scenes that were extraordinarily violent; like when The Bear Jew bashed the Nazi’s skull in with a bat, when Aldo Raines carved the Nazi cross into Hans Landa’s forehead or when one of the Basterds shot Hitler’s face off. But in the midst of this Nazi-killing massacre and extreme violence hides a strikingly brilliant film.

The Basterds is a group of Jew-American soldiers, whose sole purpose is to kill as many Nazis as they possibly can. Their means are those of extreme, inhumane violence and they have no mercy. This group is lead by lieutenant Aldo Raines, an American soldier from Tennessee, who Brad Pitt plays to near perfection. Like the rest of the Basterds, Aldo Raines has no mercy for the Nazis, since he believes that they’re such cruel and inhumane adversaries that they don’t deserve any form of forgiveness or justice.

In the film a fictional movie named Nation’s Pride is presented. In the end an assembly of high society Nazis is watching this movie in a theater. During that scene I got the distinct impression that the movie the Nazis were watching was very much like the movie I was watching. Nation’s Pride was about a German soldier who was killing off opponents of the Third Reich by the hundreds. In the movie he was carving the Nazi cross into the floor of the clock tower he was shooting from.
Inglourious Basterds is about a group of Jew-American soldiers who are killing Nazis by the hundreds, carving the Nazi cross into their foreheads. The resemblance of the two movies is apparent. On our side, in front of the screen, we’re watching an American, anti-Nazi, propaganda film. On the screen, the Germans are watching a German, anti-Jewish, propaganda film.
Both movies are, after all, just about people killing people, who they believe deserve to be killed. And in the sense that Inglourious Basterds is just about killing and violence it doesn’t have much to say. But given that it has so little to say, it says a whole lot. In essence, it becomes a modern parody of an old German propaganda flick.