Inglourious Basterds: A Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

basterdsReviewed by Heather Hart

Two worlds collide in France during World War II. Two ideas, one mission: to eliminate the Nazi’s during a showing of a German propaganda film. The highest ranking Nazi of all will be in attendance.

The Inglourious Basterds are a group of Jewish-American soldiers being led by Lt. Aldo Raine, a hillbilly from Tennessee. Their purpose is to inflict the same merciless pain on the Nazi’s as has been done to the European Jews. As the group has been successful in their capture and torture of the enemy, they become infamous among the German soldiers who have grown to fear them.

In rural France, a young girl who along with her family, has been in hiding under the floorboards of a neighbor’s house is rooted out by Nazi’s. As she watches her family being shot, somehow she is able to run away and escape into the nearby woods. Not knowing how she will survive or go without being discovered, she ends up at a cinema asking the owner to allow her to help with the movies, affording her a place to stay after hours. A few years later, the now young woman, Shosanna, is the owner of the cinema having inherited it from her “aunt.” Being forced to show newly produced German propaganda films or classic German movies, she opts for the latter which in turn draws smaller crowds. One such viewer, much to her horror, is a young, apparently well known German soldier who is smitten with this “French” beauty. He has risen to celebrity status due to his high number body count of Russian soldiers. So glorified is he, that a movie has been made about his experience. In trying to woo Shosanna, he pulls some strings so that the opening night of his film will take place in her small cinema, bringing status and continued business her way. This is an opportunity that she can not forsake, willing herself to give her own life.At the same time, Lt. Aldo learns of this gathering via British the cinema and all of its occupants. Which plan will be carried out? Who, if anyone, will walk away?

What ensues is classic Tarantino. There is bloodshed, body parts and bullets galore. There are no weak characters, each has a purpose and a story to be told. Being the first screenplay I have ever read, I was unsure if I would enjoy it as much as a novel. I envisioned the dreaded play reading done many years ago in high school. However, once I started reading it, I knew it was not going to be a problem. It was quite interesting to see exactly how Tarantino wanted things to be portrayed. Much information come from the setup of the scene and his input, information that would not be there if written in book form. As a book lover, I feel that many times if not all, a movie does not do the book version justice. Side stories, history is left out of the screen adaptation. With this screenplay, a mere 164 pages, it will be interesting to see all of the visions created on paper come to life. In fact, I am almost wistful that there wasn’t more to the story, more adventures to be had.

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