Song of the Day – Inglourious Basterds

David Bowie – Cat  People (Putting out the Fire)

I cannot BELIEVE I’ve had this blog going for about three years (or something) and not once featured a Bowie song? Insanity. Alas it’s not going to be solo Bowie here, this is more of a “look how incredible this soundtrack of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ is’ post. We shall begin with Bowie.

(I’m pleased there’s a cracking picture of Melanie Laurent here, but I feel it’s unnecessary to call her a basterd..) Anyway, this is very good use of a powerful song in a montage, and does it get much better than the combination of Tarantino, Bowie and Nazis? Think about it. Excellent song choice for the scene. This version is also extended too, so you get two bonus Bowie minutes.

Next I would like to feature Ennio Morricone. Apparently he’s some big noise in classical music. Much like most composers nowadays, film is the best medium to get their music across to the widest audience, just like John Williams (yawn), Hans Zimmer (I LOVE HIM) and Howard Shore (what else did he do apart from Lord of the Rings..?). So here we go –

Ennio Morricone – Rabbia E Tarantella

I believe this is just when they’re showing the credits.. Which is a shame as so many people don’t bother to read them, so you won’t be getting much Tarantella action. But isn’t this piece so haunting? Bear in mind you’ve just seen Christoph Waltz (best Nazi ever?) (certainly the most entertaining) (I really should watch this film again soon) dictate every bad thing he’s done, and Brad Pitt gets his vengence in a pretty sick way. Amazing stuff in this film, acting, soundtrack, beautiful costumes (see the cameo above), script – really, it’s brilliant. Alas it loses it’s potency the more you watch it.

Basterds of the Inglourious Nature.

I cannot believe it took me until last Tuesday to first see this. It’s like ‘Pulp Fiction’ but with Nazis! So many merits on so many aspects, I have no idea which to divulge into first.

Seeing as I’ve sampled a few pieces here, let’s try music (if you haven’t yet pressed PLAY, you’re a fool. Get on it) Usually I’m not a fan of injecting contextualised films with contemporary instruments (such as in ‘Sharpe’ – the electric guitar just didn’t seem to fit), but it worked so well here. Is this possibly because the cinematography allowed it to look normal, and not with that slight twinge of colour so as to make it ‘1940’s’? I find this happens in so many British/American films set in the earlier part of the 20th century – ‘The Reader’, ‘Glorious ’39’ and so on – and to be completely honest I find it incredibly patronising. Just because they were living 70 years ago does not mean they didn’t have vibrant colours… You don’t have to make a film look sepia just because the aged photographs look like that now. The score is out of this world too – it’s the first piece of  Ennio Morricone I’ve really enjoyed, and somehow – somehow – it fits brilliantly. In any context, the piece ‘Un Amico’ seems to be a content, even slightly happy, piece, and yet it’s used when everyone’s dying. And it still works. How is this?! It seems to sort of say “Yes I know it’s tragic, but that’s life and it’s happening now so you might as well accept it”, almost like the contentment is one of “there’s no point worrying because there’s nothing I can do to stop it. So panic not.” Beautiful. Just epic. There was a lovely mix of authentic French 1940s ‘hits’, contemporary pieces (how does David Bowie fit in a film about Nazis? Is it because Tarantino is so damn good?), and the score, and I loved every minute of it. Nothing fits like a very satisfying glove more than an appropriate soundtrack. Go musicians!

What now?! So much to talk about! I think we should give time to the acting. I’ve researched a little and discovered most of whom ended up in the cast list were not the first choices of Mr Tarantino. But I think you’ll all agree they did an epic job. As annoying as he can be, Brad Pitt was brilliant. Absolutely, stunningly brilliant. From his brash Southern American tones and temperaments, which he kept going so well throughout the film, even when his character was trying to be Italian (“Bon-jor-no.” Yes Brad.), to his wonderfully unsentimental treatment of the Nazis and his courageous stand against them. And Christoph Waltz – yes yes fucking yes. Evilest man ever maybe? The fact I never want to meet him even as an actor (and probably a normal and nice man), does rather suggest his immense talent at playing this role. I believe he initially declined, stating the role was “unplayable”, but clearly he was lying. Michael Fassbender should also get a special mention, partly because of the name, partly because I loved his character, and partly because he did such a fantastic job with it. Eli Roth as the ‘Bear Jewwww’ was a brilliant idea – he’s so terrifying anyway (and so weird?!), it’s hard to imagine anyone else could have played it as well as he did. All actors made their characters so so believable. I think, obviously aside from Brad Pitt (who seems to be so bloody versatile anyway), Tarantino did very well to work with lesser-known actors, thus making them less typecast and more character based. Well played Quentin. Well played indeed.

I was also impressed with the story line – I haven’t seen many films involving Nazis where the Jews actually fought back. It took a refreshingly new angle on the persecution of the Jews, which I was not expecting and actually liked – even if it’s fictional, it’s nice to believe they were content to accept their ‘fate’ and just get on with it. ‘Tarantino gets lost in a fictional World War 2″ might be true, but there are so many conflicting answers and occurences in history that maybe Tarantino was playing on this, and saying “Would it not be great if…?” This is probably the first film I’ve actually enjoyed that was obviously historically inaccurate – and that never happens. I consider it to be the story telling which made it believable. Films like ‘The Boy In The Stripped Pyjamas’ – so inaccurate it is almost laughable, and that distracted from my full enjoyment of said film, but I found no qualms with ‘Inglourious Basterds’ doing this. It would be awfully good if the three most powerful men of the Third Reich were stupid enough to collect themselves so obviously into one room (sitting targets!), but alas.

In true Tarantino style, his ‘chapters’ featured too, but I find this can be good. Although sometimes he seems to want his films to be books. But it’s a good mini break and a good catch-up for the not-so-intelligent-viewer. The only thing I didn’t like was the amount of gore involved (when he says “scalps”, he really means scalps), but I assume this was aiming to be quite realistic, and I’m a bit of a ponce anyway – it’s not an actual criticism of the film.

All in all, there was a general feeling of “this is actually brilliant”, and it’s one of the best I’ve seen in ages. In many ways I hate Tarantino for being this awesome, but then if he didn’t make the films there would be nothing to view, and it’s awfully relieving to know that films of this calibre can still be made today. Very good work!