Cosign big time on Domino's comment about Tarantino deserving whatever he gets, dude is gratingly idiotic on a pretty regular basis. I sort of feel the same way about the defending I've done of Basterds
as I do about the defending I've done of Southland Tales
, but anyways.
oldsheperd wrote:I don't see any morals in this film. I see pure nihilism.
I would tend to agree with this for every pre-Basterds
QT film, which I guess is probably part of why I'm so taken by it. I think Death Proof edged in this direction (I think someone else in this thread mentioned the commentary on revenge that the bifurcated narrative there lends itself to), but this strikes me as the first film of his that could be worked down to a primary concern that it is not directly related to cinema. (Although by the same token, I think a reading which arrives at cinema as the primary concern here would be valid too.)
but at this screening I heard a lot of laughter at the gore especially the last gruesome during the film's denouement. I found it repulsive and a bit too much.
We've already discussed this I suppose, and like I said, the laughter and cheering was certainly off-putting to me. But in a way, it only helped to underscore the point that I feel was being made: namely, that a parallel was being drawn between those in the audience of Basterds
and those onscreen in the audience of Nation's Pride
. The moral inquiry here is, for me, primarily concerned with rationalization, the manner in which we convince ourselves that an act is just or acceptable in the context of horrible atrocities. On one level, Jewish vengeance - an act which ends the war - plays as comparably acceptable in the face of Nazi aggression; there is a level of catharsis here which is both unsettling and enjoyable - perhaps all the more enjoyable for how unsettling it is. On another, it is filmed in such a horrific manner that I personally couldn't have begun to think about cheering for it -
350 people dying a horribly violent death is still 350 people dying a horribly violent death.
After two viewings, I find the film's most crucial scene to be Landa's dealmaking, the most cutting bit of rationalization here. The language he uses throughout it made me think of the rationalizations that inevitably come into play any time there is discussion on the decision to use the atomic bomb.
What's worse: allowing one Nazi war hero to walk off into the swanky sunsets of Nantucket (at a cost of 350 Nazi lives - and here Zoller's comment at the cafe to Goebbels that the premier should only be for people who "believe in the cause" becomes of central importance) or killing over 200,000 non-combat citizens?
I think the coda, which most people seem to want to write off as just another bit of crassly gleeful bloodletting, is a continuation of the moral questioning - no-one can get out of this unmarked, clean, absolved of guilt.
To be completely honest (and believe me, if you'd told me 2 weeks ago that I'd be saying this about a film by Quentin Tarantino I'd have laughed in your face), I feel like more than any war movie in recent memory, this resonates with Richard Lester's comment circa How I Won The War
that most movies claiming to be "anti-war" are only anti-the wrong side of war, rather than against the manner in which it totally debases humanity. Basterds
acknowledges the human desire for just retribution, but it's only true praise is for the end of the war, not the manner in which it was achieved. To me it is ultimately a film about the unsavory rationalizations that must exist in order to find any facet of war acceptable at any level - rationalizations that can never result in any level of good, just less egregious levels of shittiness.
I think what Tarantino has accomplished here is something on par with what Haneke wanted to accomplish in his two Funny Games
(substituting more abstract media-centric violence for war atrocities, obviously), the difference being that I found Tarantino's wildly fun and enjoyable, while Haneke's to me is gratingly dull, smug and didactic.
I also believe that reducing Nazis down to caricatures is something akin to what the Nazis did with the Jews, no? So it's self-nullifying in my opinion.
Just to play devil's advocate, it's worth noting that the film's most intellectually and moralistically complex character is a Nazi. For whatever that's worth.