There is a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s WWII film that made me realize this was going to be my favorite of his. We get to witness the titular heroes go to town on Nazi’s by scalping them up and down. With only three remaining, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is trying his hardest to get intel from them. He threatens the leader with the fact they have ‘The Bear Jew’ who is the scariest of the bunch. What happens next is….Well here let me show you:
I absolutely LOVE the pacing of this entire scene. Tarantino is always great at building up his scenes and you never truly know where his films are gonna go. So, of course, I was not expecting Eli Roth to come out with a menacing look and a fucked up looking bat. (Also, a ridiculous New York accent) But it is the build up to his reveal that makes me love the craft of Tarantino and Editor Sally Menke. You just see a close up of this German waiting for ‘The Bear Jew’ to reveal himself and then a quick cut to a dark tunnel with an ominous sound. We get only this for a solid minute before the music swells and the Basterds are literally clapping before a (gruesome) murder happens. Speaking of which, the Ennio Morricone score overall is fantastic in this film but this piece (called ‘The Surrender’) is just outstanding. I am not ashamed to admit this constantly plays on my iPod; that’s how much this scene has a hold of me since the original viewing.
There’s another scene that, for my money anyways, sums up QT as a filmmaker:
This is only the second half of the scene but what I love about it is how tense it is. Tarantino seems to do this at least once in his films but he goes for the jugular in this moment. From when the heroes walk down into the bar to the end of the shootout you don’t have any idea where this is going. Will the heroes get caught? Spoiler alert: Yes. But it is the journey Tarantino takes us in the script that makes it so worth it. There is so much tension put on screen I can’t imagine in the real world these people could keep their composure. But then, not shown in the video, this scene goes completely off the rails into ANOTHER tense moment. You feel so bad for this one German just trying to plead for his safety that you feel bad for Aldo Raine’s trying to think how to settle everything. Another thing Tarantino is good at is flipping the script and making us feel for characters we otherwise wouldn’t beforehand.
I feel like Tarantino winning for Best Screenplay at the 2012 Oscars is compensating for not winning in 2009 for this film. Cause despite directing some of the greatest films of our generation I find this to be his best work. Inglourious Basterds has his best characters, his most interesting universe, and quite frankly some of the best scenes he has ever thought of. But I love this film for how completely entertaining it is. For as many serious moments this film has it has more than enough batshit craziness to make you fully entertained for minutes on end. I’m all for his foray into the Western genre and all but I am a little sad it’s going to be a long time (or even never) where we can see this WWII landscape Tarantino was able to create for us to enjoy.