Steve Sailer’s interpretation of Tarantino and his latest flick Inglorious Basterds coincided with that of my older son, who discussed Tarantino’s work with me last night over the phone. Like Steve, Joe viewed the subject matter of Tarantino’s latest blood-and-guts spectacle as more of the same violence and cynicism that one encounters in all of his films. The playing up of Nazi murderers and the revenge inflicted on them by Jews is supposedly the mere vehicle by which Tarantino could titillate his viewers, just as he did in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill, Vols. I and II.
Without necessarily denying the usual Tarantino idiosyncrasies in this movie, it seems that his subject may have been chosen, for among other reasons, because bashing Germans and showing them to be irredeemable Nazis is a popular theme with Hollywood, American liberals, Jewish organizations, and millions of self-hating Germans. Producing a counterfactual film about the Second World War, in which Jews get a chance to destroy the Nazi government while scalping Wehrmacht officers, can’t hurt box office receipts in the least. Such PC themes may not be the sole reason for Tarantino’s film success. But it is a critical factor, as I am led to believe after reading the rave reviews from Ebert, the New York Post, and several foreign newspapers.
In any case, the best review of the film I’ve run into is by my favorite German film critic, Claus-M. Wolfschlag in Junge Freiheit (August 21). Wolfschlag, who specializes in sniffing out ideological propaganda in German and American films, goes to town on Tarantino’s ‘overreaching.’ He observes that the director pretends to be leaving ‘his American conceptual realm of drugs, hired killers, stuntmen, and go-go dancers’ by ‘trying something new.’ But what Tarantino produces is a mere variation on Grade-B anti-Nazi films, in which save for the quality of acting by the Austrian Christoph Waltz, everything and everyone is comfortably stereotypical.
One looks in vain for a halfway normal person of German nationality, perhaps a new father or a well-intentioned war hero like Friedrich Zoller (played by Daniel Bruhl, who falls in love with a pretty Jewish girl Shoshanna. But in the end Zoller turns into a persistent stalker. The desperate Shoshanna is driven to shoot him, but then turns around, conscience-stricken, to look at the gravely wounded Zoller. This conciliatory gesture, however, turns out badly. Zoller shoots back at the young woman killing her. The moral is clear. To feel any human feeling for a German is inappropriate.
Wolfschlag also notes the final PC touch in the film. Shoshanna falls passionately in love with a very black African, whom she describes as ‘mon concitoyen francais.’ Needless to say, the chance of any of this happening, that a French Jewish woman of this generation (played by the very Nordic looking French actress Melanie Laurent) takes up erotically with a West African black, who is helping her to run a French movie house under the German occupation, is infinitesimally small.
For want of a better characterization, I might summarize the contents of Tarantino’s movie by reproducing in English Wolfschlag’s biting resume:
Inglorious Basterds has a plain pornographic component. The actor Eli Roth called it ‘kosher porno.’ It provides a crude model for getting German haters to masturbate. Self-hating Germans were already panting with wet underpants as they waited for the film’s opening last Thursday. In a shameless society, which hypocritically elevates shame to the theme of every discussion, it behooves the Germans to feel truly ashamed for lending their support to this [odious] enterprise.