December is Tarantino Month here at SOS, and in the weeks leading up to the Christmas release of Django Unchained, we’ll be tackling the man’s entire career. Love him or hate him, the American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor has created some of the most iconic and memorable movie moments since he burst into the scene in 1992 with the Sundance hit Reservoir Dogs. Site contributors Tressa Eckermann, Edgar Chaput and Editor-in-Chief Ricky D have decided to put together a list of his greatest moments as both a screenwriter and director.
#30: Inglorious Basterds: Once Upon a Time in Nazi occupied France
Not since Vic Vega slashed his way into becoming one of the best movie villains of all time has Tarantino introduced such an effectively terrifying and charming character. The scene is really a testament to what happens when you combine brilliant dialogue and a gifted actor like Christoph Waltz.
Debating which scenes from 2009’s Inglourious Basterds are the best is a delicate proposition seeing as, first, there are only so many of them for a movie that runs 2 1/2 hours, and second, nearly all are high in such high esteem for a variety of reasons bu its fans. With that small caveat out of the way, here are some of this movie fan’s favourites:
Tarantino opens Basterds with one of his longest single location dialogue exchanges between two characters, Reservoir Dogs notwithstanding. Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (played by the film’s standout, Christoph Waltz), arrives at monsieur LaPadite’s (Denis Menochet) milk farm in the French countryside to double check the whereabouts of a Jewish family which has gone unaccounted for for some time already. Much of the dialogue is for Waltz rather than his opposite, but there is a very specific reason for that: it presents a clear (enough) picture of who Landa is. He is a charmer, a sophisticated speaker with the mind of a brilliant detective and the predatory instincts of a hungry shark, even though he’d have some believe he thinks like a rat. Waltz inhabits the part with devilish amusement, playing a figure always on top of the matter at hand, but who takes sublime pleasure in talking splendidly to make the catch as amusing as possible.
#31: Inglorious Basterds: The Bear Jew’s entrance
“Quiet frankly watching Donny beat Nazi’s to death is the closet we get to going to the movies,” Aldo tells the doomed Nazi. The scene is almost the complete opposite of Landa’s quiet and terrifying introduction, The Bear Jew’s (Eli Roth) intro is loud, over the top, and boisterous, not all that different from the character played by Eli Roth. Everything about Inglorious Basterds is over the top and this scene perfectly captures that attitude.
Lt. Aldo Raine: “Here that? That’s Sgt. Donny Donowitz. But you might know him better by his nickname. The Bear Jew. Now, if you heard of Aldo the Apache, you gotta have heard of the Bear Jew”.
#32- Ingourious Basterds: Operation Kino goes down under
It speaks to how much of an impact Christoph Waltz leaves on the film when realizing it is more difficult to highlight ‘best’ scenes which do not include him than those which do, although this scene is a serious contender, wherein two of the German born Basterds (Til Schweiger and Gedeon Burkhard), along with British spy (Michael Fassbender) and a famous German actress (Diane Kruger) working for the Allies make contact in a basement pub filled with German soldiers and one especially perceptive officer (August Diehl). The presence of the Germans is unfortunate and unexpected, complicating to the umpteenth degree. Every time the group of heroes tries to exchange critical information or leave, a German enemy, unaware that there are spies in the midst, gathers with them to chat and laugh drunkenly. The scene is well written and well acted, and above all else augments the tension unforgivably until hell is unleashed once one of the protagonists makes a fatal mistake.
#33- Inglourious Basterds: Burning down the house
In one of the final chapters of Inglourious Basterds, “Revenge of the Giant Face”, Tarantino creates his greatest sequence – and one that works on several layers; intensifying his theme that cinema is a force to be reckoned with. In the climax of Basterds, the power of the cinema itself is a force strong enough to bring down the Third Reich; not just in the metaphorical sense, but in the sense that 35 mm film is used as a deadly weapon. Tarantino cuts between images of celluloid being loaded into film canisters to bullets loaded into magazine clips. During the World Premiere of Nations Pride, Tarantino cross-cuts between the endless machine gun fire of the film-within-the film to shots of celluloid running through the projector. There is a larger than life image of Fredrick Zoller projected on the theatre screen of him pointing his machine gun directly at the audience. Marcel, having locked the cinema’s exits, ignites a pile of extremely flammable nitrate film. Just seconds before it erupts in flame, a spliced-in clip of Shosanna is cut into Nation’s Pride, informing the Third Reich that they are about to be killed by a Jew. In Tarantino’s film, the violence is as unforgiving as that of his characters and the distinction between the heroes and the villains is extremely murky. Although the theme of revenge is carried through to the very end, it could be argued that Basterds works as a study of vengeance and a powerful anti-war commentary.
– Ricky D
#34- Inglourios Basterds: Hans Landa: WWII hero for the Allies
This is a beat of a cheat because two scenes shall be praised instead of just one. By the film’s climax, when it seems that the Basterds have failed in their plan to destroy Hitler and the high ranking members of the National Socialist party, Landa reveals to Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) his true colours: opportunist. It turns out that he, apparently never really hated the Jews. He is an expert at tracking down wanted people and bringing them to whoever represents justice at a given period in time. His allegiance can change with the wind if need be, and thus he offers to help end the war by killing Hitler in exchange for immunity and many wonderful rewards once he sets foot on American soil. It is quite confusing given that while he may not hold any ethnic prejudice, which is nice, his actions nevertheless brought along the deaths of hundreds. On the flip side, Aldo and his Basterds are far more focused and devoted to a cause, to the point where they cannot let go of their own hatred towards enemies, perfectly demonstrated in the final scene when, after the Nazis are defeated and all is seemingly well, he literally carves his final masterpiece.