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Inglourious Basterds - The Ex-Communicator

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September 9th, 2009


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07:53 am - Inglourious Basterds
I went to see the new Tarantino film last night. I can't understand why it has provoked such polarised reactions. I thought it was a fairly good film. It reminded me very much of the films of Brian De Palma, particularly Carrie, The Untouchables and Scarface. It's a clever film, it's cinematically powerful, it uses the form of film with great facility. But I don't think it has much depth. I suppose it's only because you can see that the guy has so much ability that the shallowness even signifies.

Tarantino has said that he ignores the moral dimension in the scenes he provides. That is clearly untrue. Tarantino uses the audience's moral feelings as one of the colours of his composition of scenes. He uses the audience's feelings not only of empathy, but of right and wrong, to produce emotional tension, ambivalence and catharsis. Every single scene in this film twists your moral compass to produce emotion. Which is fine I think.

This film has an obvious game which it plays with moral feelings. That is, one sees the Nazis perform an act, and one assesses it as an evil act. The one sees the anti-Nazis perform a similar act, and I felt the message of the film was something like 'Ah-ha! Look how your feelings have changed when it is the goodies doing it!' Similarly, one is suppose to have revelled in scenes of slaughter of Nazis, and then one sees the Nazis themselves in the cinema, chortling at scenes of slaughter. Oh No! Moral dissonance! But have you been chortling up to that point?

If you think that Good and Evil are sides in a war, rather than adjectives, then this film may be more emotionally shocking. Having said that, viewers whose feelings are so confident, may be able to chortle with enjoyment through the scenes where Good triumphs. I don't think Tarantino advocates either point of view, just constructs his scenes to use the feelings which arise.

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:dfordoom
Date:September 9th, 2009 07:32 am (UTC)
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But I don't think it has much depth

It's a Tarantino film. You could wade through his deepest thoughts without getting your feet wet.
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From:communicator
Date:September 9th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)
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There are plenty of directors who are quite unaware of moral ambiguity and deeper issues. Tarantino gives me the impression that he is aware of stufff like that, but uses it to make films, and full stop. I suppose because making films is literally more important to him than anything else.
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From:dfordoom
Date:September 9th, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
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I suppose because making films is literally more important to him than anything else.

I just wish he'd find something else! ;-)

If only his talents were equal to his enthusiasm.
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From:despotliz
Date:September 9th, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
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But have you been chortling up to that point?

At the screening I went to, the audience were certainly laughing at a lot of points where I was thinking that it was really not funny (ie. scalping), so maybe what I saw as a fairly heavy-handed message did actually work for some people.
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From:communicator
Date:September 9th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
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At the screening I went to yesterday there was very little laughter, except at Bad Pitt's accent. However my son said he was laughing all the way through :-/ That's youngsters for you - ruthless.
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From:emeraldsedai
Date:September 9th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
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except at Bad Pitt's accent

I just know that typo was deliberate.
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From:communicator
Date:September 10th, 2009 08:24 am (UTC)
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ahem, yes. To be fair to poor old 'Bad' he was probably doing it on purpose. I also laughed at Austen Powers of British Command HQ.
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From:hawkeye7
Date:September 9th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
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I thought the film was much less about the war than about the movies about the war. Particularly Italian ones, but also western movies like The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare and The Guns of Navarone. (And a number of real "westerns" as well.)
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From:communicator
Date:September 10th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
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I didn't so much get the war movies thing, though lots of other reviewers did. I must say I have never seen any Italan war films, so I may be missing something.

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