As someone who has been suffering from Holocaust Exhaustion,
(Note: This statement in no way means to belittle the horror experienced by the Jewish People during the European Holocaust. I’m saying that me, as an individual, a very empathetic and sensitive one at that, one who has had recurring Holocaust dreams in which I was among those gassed at Buchenwald, at this point in my life, cannot stand the pain, panic and emotional devastation that films about the Holocaust invoke.)
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is not only a Holocaust film that I would recommend to anyone suffering from the same Exhaustion as myself, but one that I would recommend for anybody who wishes that history had happened differently and one who thinks that, yes, there are quite simply some things that can be handled with a heavy metal weapon. Or baseball bat. Or garrotte. Or explosives.
The history behind this film is not an energising one. It’s one that chills the soul. However, very quickly am I beginning to understand that The Joker was right when he invoked of the Healing Power Of Laughter. Yes. It is there. Humour amidst the horror. It’s so necessary. So appropriate. The fact that Tarantino has not only made a film in which the Holocaust Exhausted can find a refuge for the latent rage that lies within us for the crimes of the past, but we can revel in the payback. Those of us who can no longer watch “Schindler’s List” or “Life is Beautiful” or the “Diary of Anne Frank”,
(Oh my fucking GOD these movies make me want to KILL myself. Watching them I wish I HAD fucking died in the Holocaust. Then I wouldn’t have all this time to think about the world that these monsters created and left behind in their murderous Natzie rampage. Motherfuhrers. Motherfucking fuckers.)
because those movies only show us what happened, they show us Jews as victims, waiting to be saved. There are no victims in Inglourious Basterds. Only survivors. How refreshing.
When it comes down to it, revenge is what I want to see when I watch a Natzie movie. I want to see the torturers tortured. I want to see their penises removed from their rapist bodies, I want to see eyeballs slowly gouged out, I want to see amputations without anesthetic, I want to see blond death. I didn’t necessarily get all of that from this film, it’s actually quite tasteful a revenge flick. Regardless, I am thankful that Quentin Tarantino has made this beautiful movie, Inglourious Basterds, for people like myself so we can experience a glorious catharsis.
Quentin Tarantino is a magnificent storyteller. Mag-ni-fi-cent. There are shades of True Romance here, reminiscences of the Sicilian scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. You could also think of Inglourious Basterds as Kill Bill Part 3: Kill Natzies, some of the soundtrack even meshes. The ending, which I have rewatched a few times already, is very Deathproof. Tarantino is pulling a Stephen King Dark Tower and becoming self-referential. I love self-referentialness, the intertextuality of this kind of art, it makes my toes curl in a multiple Tarantinogasm.
And so beautifully made. Beautiful, yes, I said beautiful. Inglourious Basterds is a beautiful movie. Beautiful acting (Melanie Laurent, wow, breathtaking brilliance), actors (wow, that Eli Roth is a handsome bear of a man, and a far more talented actor than director methinks), sets, ceilings (oh, Orson Welles would be so proud of you, Quentin! I absolutely love you for this detail) authenticity. Beautiful. Beautiful portraits. Beautiful revenge. Perfect revenge. Satisfying revenge. Natzies get their fucking due. And long overdue in the history of film, not just Holocaust movies. Lo-oh-oh-ooong. Overdue.
Another beautiful thing I take from this movie: Us good people, those of us who are unable to go through with the revenges we imagine in detail, we couldn’t actually go through with it. And nor do the heroes of this film. This is not torture porn. It’s matter-of-fact revenge, it’s heroes not stooping down to the level of monsters. Albeit one Basterd, played by the munificent Brad Pitt, who is my new hero and who makes this film my new favorite movie.
Revenge is a dish best eaten, and bring your plate back for seconds.