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Plot: What’s it about?
“…we’re gonna be doin’ one thing and one thing only… killin’ Nazis.”
Rarely are there “movie movies” made these days. Too often do studios want all of their films to fit into a nicely defined genre, such as horror, sci-fi, or the often-used drama. What about the movies that do away with the labels and stereotypes and just unfold naturally, mixing in action if action is needed, suspense if suspense is needed, or everything in between?
That’s what Quentin Tarantino does with Inglourious Basterds. To define this movie as simply a drama or comedy, the two broadest genres out there, is to mistakenly define a film that was one of the biggest surprises to me in 2009. After hearing about its lukewarm reaction in Cannes and how Tarantino was busy editing it after that festival ended, I wasn’t expecting too much. For that, I am fortunate, because everyone loves being pleasantly surprised, right?
Inglourious Basterds, written and directed by Tarantino, follows a few different storylines as they lead up to the grand and bloody finale in a French movie theater. On one hand we have Lt. Aldo Raine, hilariously played by Brad Pitt, and his small army of Jewish-American soldiers as they kill Nazis across eastern Europe, one scalp at a time. At other times we follow a young Jewish woman, Shoshanna, as she escapes the brutal murdering of her family and hides under the identity of a French theater owner.
Moving between these, and other, stories is Col. Hans Landa, also known as “The Jew Hunter”. Christoph Waltz plays the creepy and, at times, charming villain who even the audience wants to trust at times. You never should, though. Whereas many other villains would use force, Landa verbally convinces a farmer early on in the film to admit where he is hiding a family of Jews. Through it all, Hans Landa is pleasant. He smiles. He even jokes. Like a flick of a switch, however, he becomes absolutely ruthless and you quickly learn why he got his nickname.
Inglourious Basterds does not rush through itself. It takes its time, something I value in movies today. It’s not an often occurrence to see a single scene play out for longer than ten minutes, but Tarantino provides the suspense to do so. In the last line of the film, one character looks straight into the camera and declares some “art” they are working on as their masterpiece. This is, in turn, Tarantino speaking directly to us. I see plenty of heads nodding in agreement.
Video: How does it look?
Inglourious Basterds looked pretty darn good when it hit Blu-ray back in 2009. More than a decade has passed and now we’ve (finally) got a 4K edition. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I sat down to watch this one and while my player, television and the disc have all changed – I’m still in awe of some of the shots in the film. First thing’s first – the usual upgrades are present with an uptick in picture quality, the HDR gives some scenes a bit more of a cinematic look and the overall image seems to have a cleaner appearance. It’s not perfect, but darn close. After doing some research on a more technical level (I usually don’t mention bitrates in my reviews), this does seem to have a fairly low bitrate. Still, I think any fan of the film will be more than happy with the way this looks in 4K.
Audio: How does it sound?
Though it might have been ripe for a Dolby Atmos mix, we get the same DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack found on the Blu-ray. Yes, there are somewhat typical loud crashes that your speakers will no doubt embrace but the little things are what stood out to me. For those that haven’t seen the film, a majority of it is in German and French with English subtitles, so to say the movie is dialogue-driven is an understatement, in any language. While this uncompressed soundtrack is, at times, subdued, it’s still worthy of the score it deserves.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The supplements appear to be the same that appeared with the Blu-ray upon its release back in 2009 with the addition of “The New York Times” talk found on the Best Buy exclusive edition from 2009. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have them included. Of note, they’re all on the 4K disc, so it’s ok to let the Blu-ray gather dust.
- Extended & Alternate Scenes – These are mostly extended versions of scenes in the film. They run 12 minutes and really didn’t add much to the movie, but at 153 minutes why not keep them in? It’s not like another dozen minutes would have killed anyone.
- Roundtable Discussion with Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and Elvis Mitchell – Elvis Mitchell interviews Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino about the film as they share some on the set anecdotes, the script and the subject matter. Running at 30 minutes, it’s a nice segment to have.
- The New York Times Talk – Running at just over an hour, this feature was pulled from the Best Buy exclusive disc and is a welcome addition here.
- Nation’s Pride – Original Short – The 6 minute “film within a film” was directed by star Eli Roth and is presented here in its entirety.
- The Making of Nation’s Pride – Another 4 minutes are dedicated to the making of this film with several interviews done in character.
- The Original Inglourious Basterds – The original film is paid homage as well as some of those who made cameos in Tarantino’s version.
- A Conversation with Rod Taylor – Taylor, who played Winston Churchill in the film, raves about Tarantino and the film as a whole.
The Bottom Line
There aren’t many directors who could “get away” with making movies like Inglourious Basterds. Then again there aren’t many directors like Quentin Tarantino. I’m willing to bet that any fan of his has seen this and it’s never looked better than it does here. The addition of the supplements on the 4K disc is the icing on the cake. Make it a part of your collection.