His rise from video store clerk to GenX’s favorite filmmaker is legendary and Quentin Tarantino has explored movie genres as diverse as crime capers and kung fu. But now, for the first time, the director will try his hand at a World War II movie with Inglourious Basterds.
The highly anticipated movie with the oddly-spelled title has been entered in the Cannes Film Festival – where Tarantino once headed the jury. A scene of Brad Pitt as a Nazi-hunting soldier addressing his troops has been released, and the cast and crew recently sat for a Vanity Fair photo session. It’s all part of the buzz-building plan from Tarantino’s longtime studio patron, Harvey Weinstein.
Details on the movie are sketchy, though a script purported to be the one Tarantino was shooting from leaked on the internet. What’s known is that the film depicts a band of Jewish-American soldiers on a mission in Nazi-occupied France. Since it’s a Tarantino film, it’s a safe guess that the violence level will be high.
It’s also a god bet that Basterds will be unlike any war movie you’ve seen before. Turning genres on their heads is what Tarantino does, after all.
The cast is typically eclectic. In addition to Pitt, who plays no-nonsense Lieutenant Aldo Raine, the movie features some people you might think would the least likely to appear in a war drama.
Mike Myers plays General Ed Fenech – and yes, that’s the Austin Powers/Cat in the Hat Mike Myers. Another comic actor, B.J. Ryan – who plays Ryan the intern in the TV series The Office – is cast in his first major film role as PFC Utivich. Eli Roth, who made “torture porn” a hot Hollywood term with the Hostel films he directed, plays Sgt. Donnie Donowitz. It’s a larger part than the small role he had in Tarantino’s B-movie drive-in homage, Death Proof. Cloris Leachman, her career revived by Dancing with the Stars, also has a role.
Tarantino maintains that this is not a Holocaust movie but, rather, “a spaghetti western with World War II iconography.” In fact, it’s loosely based on a 1978 movie by Italian director Enzo Castellari, though Tarantino spent over six years writing the script.
Reportedly, there are parallel stories in the film – that of Pitt and his bloodthirsty unit, and another revolving around a woman who escapes to a new life in Paris after watching her family executed by a Nazi colonel. Ultimately, of course, the stories converge – albeit in a uniquely Tarantino-conceived manner.
The Cannes Film Festival competition takes place in May, and Inglourious Basterds arrives in theaters in the United States on August 21.
Christine Camp, “The Basterds Are Coming”, film.com