Glorious “Basterds”

Roger Ebert was right. One viewing isn’t enough.

Sarah and I went to see the new Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds today and five hours later I’m still processing what I saw.

There’s so much to say, so much to ponder, and I know I’ll never word it correctly. I know myself well enough to know I’m not that good of a writer. So I’ll just say this: Tarantino did it again. He’s the master of making you wait. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. And he doesn’t just make you wait; first he spoils the surprise by showing you all the cards, and then he makes you wait as you wonder what’s going to happen next.

Pretty vague, I know, so I’ll try to explain.

In any other movie, the hero would seem trapped when, all of a sudden, he surprises the audience by revealing the gun taped to his back he had been hiding all along, and he blows the bad guys away. Tarantino prefers a different route. Not only will he reveal the good guy has a hidden gun, he’ll reveal the bad guy does, too. And then he’ll fill the characters in as well.

Now everyone knows. You, me, and the people on the screen. The only surprise now is how everything is going to play out. And when. You know they’re going to start shooting sometime….sometime…but the suspense comes in not knowing when it’s going to happen. And you know how it’s going to happen….or at least you think you do. And as you wait for it to begin to play out, you feel the suspense building to an incredible height.

Once in a while, what you think is going to happen actually does, and even when it does, it still takes you by surprise.

Take for example the scene in Pulp Fiction when Uma has OD’d and they need to inject her with a shot of adrenaline to get her heart beating again. The only hitch is they have to inject it through her sternum, and directly into her heart. As Eric Stoltz’s character holds the needle above his head, waiting to plunge the needle into her chest….well….that’s when it gets you.

You know what’s coming; they just spent the last 5 minutes explaining it. And yet, when it finally happens…it still manages to take you by surprise.

Tarantino does the same thing with Inglourious Basterds. He lets you know what’s going to happen and then makes you squirm while you wait to see it play out.

As we were leaving the theater, Sarah said, “You know how people tell you there are certain rules in movies that you have to follow when you make a movie. It’s like Tarantino takes those rules and just breaks them.”

Exactly.

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