TIFF 2009 - Special Programme
Inglourious Basterds
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Inglourious Basterds

is a 2009 war film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and released in August 2009 by The Weinstein Company and Universal Pictures. It was filmed in several locations, among them Germany and France, beginning in October 2008. The film, set in German-occupied France, tells the story of two plots to assassinate the Nazi political leadership, one planned by a young French Jewish cinema proprietress, the other by a team of American soldiers called the "Basterds".

Tarantino has said that despite it being a war film, Inglourious Basterds is a "spaghetti western but with World War II iconography". In addition to spaghetti westerns, the film also pays homage to the World War II "macaroni combat" sub-genre (itself heavily influenced by spaghetti-westerns).

Inglourious Basterds was accepted into the main selection at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or and had its world premiere there in May. It was the only U.S. film to win an award at Cannes that year, earning a Best Actor award for Christoph Waltz.

Directed by     Quentin Tarantino
Produced by     Lawrence Bender
Written by     Quentin Tarantino
Starring     Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, Mélanie Laurent
Cinematography     Robert Richardson
Editing by     Sally Menke
Studio     A Band Apart, Zehnte Babelsberg
Distributed by     The Weinstein Company (USA)
Universal Pictures (non-USA)
Release date(s)   
Cannes Film Festival:
May 20, 2009
United Kingdom:
August 19, 2009
Australia, Germany, New Zealand:
August 20, 2009
Canada, United States:
August 21, 2009
Running time     152 min.
Country     United States, Germany
Language     English, French, German, Italian


The title of the film was inspired by director Enzo Castellari's 1978 Dirty Dozen-like war film The Inglorious Bastards. Though Tarantino acknowledges that both the former and the latter were inspirations for the film, and there are noticeable similarities, he stresses that Basterds is an original work and not a remake of the 1978 film. To date, there has been little explanation of the title spelling (the correct spelling would be "Inglorious Bastards"). When asked, Tarantino would not explain the u in Inglourious and said, "But the 'Basterds'? That's just the way you say it: Basterds." He stated in an interview that the misspelled title is "a Basquiat-esque touch."He further commented on The Late Show with David Letterman that "Inglourious Basterds" is the "Tarantino way of spelling it."


In German-occupied France in 1941, Colonel Hans Landa of the SS and SD, nicknamed "The Jew Hunter", has the Jewish Dreyfus family killed, with the exception of teenage Shosanna, whom Landa allows to escape. In the United States, 1st Lieutenant Aldo Raine recruits a team of eight Jewish-American soldiers to parachute into France as civilians prior to the Normandy landings. Their mission is to cause panic and havoc within the Third Reich by savagely killing as many German servicemen as possible, including a "take no prisoners" attitude and scalping their victims. "The Basterds", as they come to be known, develop a modus operandi involving leaving one soldier alive to spread news of the terror of their attacks; Raine carves a Nazi Swastika into at least one of these survivors with a Bowie knife so that he will be universally identifiable as a Nazi after the war.

Four years after her family was murdered, Shosanna has assumed a new identity and operates a small cinema in Paris. She meets Frederick Zoller, a German marksman and war hero whose exploits are to be celebrated in a forthcoming propaganda film. Although she resists his advances, the smitten Zoller, who is also a film fanatic, convinces Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to hold the new film's premiere at Shosanna's theater. She realizes that the presence of several high-ranking Nazi officials provides an opportunity for revenge, and with the help of her projectionist boyfriend Marcel, she resolves to burn down the cinema during the premiere. The British have also learned of the premiere and they dispatch former German-film critic Lieutenant Archie Hicox to Paris to lead an attack on the event. Upon his arrival, he meets up with the Basterds, as well as German film actress and double agent Bridget von Hammersmark. Their meeting at a bar goes awry when a Gestapo major realizes that Hicox is not German. A subsequent shootout leaves everyone in the bar, including Hicox and the two German-speaking members of the Basterds (Stiglitz and Wicki), dead and Hammersmark wounded. Raine and the remaining three Basterds, Donny, Omar and Utivich, interrogate Hammersmark and learn that Adolf Hitler will also be attending the premiere. They devise a plan wherein Raine, Donny and Omar will pose as Hammersmark's Italian escorts at the premiere. Landa, acting as head of security for the premiere, investigates the bar shootout and finds evidence that Hammersmark was there.

At the premiere, Landa questions Hammersmark privately, making her try on one of her shoes which she had left behind at the bar. Realizing that Hammersmark is working with the Basterds, he kills her and has Raine and Utivich arrested. He makes a deal with them, after speaking with their commanding officer, to be granted immunity from war crimes prosecution among other things, in exchange for allowing Donny and Omar, still at the cinema, to kill the Nazi officials. During the film, Zoller goes up to the projectionist's booth to see Shosanna, angrily protesting her rejections of him. She shoots him multiple times, but he manages to shoot her dead before succumbing to his own wounds. The film is soon interrupted by a pre-recorded close-up of Shosanna informing the audience that they are about to be killed by a Jew, at which time Marcel lights 350 reels of flammable nitrate film behind the screen. At this point, the film is revealed to be set in an alternate reality, as Donny and Omar ambush Hitler and Goebbels in their box and shoot them dead, subsequently firing into the crowd until dynamite which they brought with them detonates and incinerates the theater entirely. Some time later, Landa and his driver take Raine and Utivich to the American lines where Landa surrenders to Raine and hands over his weapons as part of his deal. Then Utivich handcuffs Landa, Raine kills Landa's driver, Utivich scalps the driver, and Raine carves a swastika into Landa's forehead with his Bowie knife, proclaiming it to be his masterpiece.
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