Inglourious Basterds: Reactions from Cannes

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Quentin Tarantino’s new film, the mysteriously misspelled Inglourious Basterds, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last week to mixed reviews. According to Tarantino, the film is a comic revenge fantasy about “the power of cinema bringing down the Third Reich.”

Part western and part war movie, the film fancifully re-imagines World War II with an ensemble cast speaking English, German, French, and Italian. Brad Pitt stars as the crazed leader of “The Basterds,” a group of Jewish-American soldiers sent into Occupied France to collect Nazi scalps. Melanie Laurent plays Shosanna, a disguised Jewish cinema owner who seeks revenge on Nazi “Jew Hunter” Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) for the massacre of her family. Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, and Mike Myers also star, with Samuel L. Jackson narrating.

Reviews of Inglourious Basterds varied greatly. Variety described the film as “a completely distinctive piece of American pop art with a strong Euro flavor that’s new for the director.” For The Daily Princetonian, the film was “unfinished” but “wholly unique.” And the BBC said, “the reaction here at Cannes is that Quentin Tarantino has made a glorious, silly, blood-spattered return.”

Other critics, like Karina Longworth of Spout Blog, found the film “notably lacking in the spark and rhythm that we’ve come to expect from Tarantino.” The Hollywood Reporter also missed the “Tarantino-esque”: “the long stretches of wickedly funny dialogue, the humor in the violence and outsized characters strutting across the screen.” Finally, The Guardian called Inglourious Basterds “achtung-achtung-ach-mein-Gott atrocious.”

We’ll see for ourselves when Inglourious Basterds is released August 21.


Steven Tagle is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. He produces short-form documentaries for Current TV, and his work has appeared in Leland Quarterly, Word Choice, and Rainy Day. He is finishing his first novel. More from this author →