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Movies of the Month > Inglorious Basterds

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message 1: by Elaine (last edited Feb 17, 2010 10:55AM) (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments About five minutes into this film, I realized I was watching the Gone With the Wind of World War II. You may recall that GWTW portrayed the Civil War as one which destroyed a society in which slaves wanted to be slaves, and that, in slave spokesperson's mind, Mammy, only bad black men wanted to be free. The white Southerners were Cavaliers, romantic aristocratic souls destroyed forever by the Union.

Well Inglorious Basterds is GWTW all over again in its rewriting history. GWTW rewrote history so effectively that the Southern myth that they didn't start the Civil War over slavery became accepted even in colleges! (They started it only to keep slavery and to extend it -- the data are overwhelming)

How about IG? It blatantly rewrites history and I bet most people who saw it took it as plausible, whatever they thought about the movie itself, which is compelling enough to watch through, but not great. It rewrote history by showing a Southern officer get together a band of 12 Jewish men to do guerilla acts against "Jew Haters," by which they meann Nazis. Forget the absurdity of 12 men against the entire German army, but the idea that the army would train any forces to aid or revenge Jews is not only absurd, it is demonstrably false.

During the War, Jewish groups petitioned the Army repeatedly to bomb the railroad tracks that were transporting cattlecars full of Jews to the Death camps. The armed forces refused. It wasn't until the Germans were finally defeated and the US Army happened onto the camps, which shocked them totally, that the Army made any effort to do something. What they did was feed the starving inmates who were alive, buried the dead, and when the living were strong enough, they were let loose to walk back to Poland, Hungary, etc. on their own. Yes, to walk back. And when they got there, many were killed by the Jew hating non-Nazis. That's the real reason that Israel was founded.

Second, The US government didn't give a rat's ass about the Jews. In 1939, when Hitler offered to let the Jews in Germany go before the first extermination camp was opened, Congress cut off all Jewish immigration to the US. The only Jews allowed were people like Einstein. Furthermore, President Roosevelt himself sent Joseph Kennedy (father of John F., etc.) to Hollywood to warn the Jewish studio heads not to mention the Jewish slaughter in Europe or there would be dire consequences for Jews in America.

The US Press also didn't print what was going on, although Hitler often bragged that he was eradicating Jews. Either killing Jews wasn't news or the papers didnt care, or our press wasn't as free as it claimed.

Jewish groups were too afraid of retaliation to do any overt protesting. AFter all, Father Coughlin was on national radio every Sunday preaching that Jews were Christ killers and should be wiped off the earth, and the American Nazi Bundts were marching regularly in the Midwest and even in New York. American complicity in Hitler's handwork has never been made a big subject of exposes or Hollywood films.

What IG does is rewrite history to make it seem that America cared about what happened to the Jews. It did not. That had absolutely nothing to do with why we went to war and the Germans could merrily massacre all the Jews they wanted without worry about specific attacks from the US Armed forces.


Oh, should you see it. It's ok. Not a great movie on any count, but it is viewable. Brad Pitt is ludicrous as a Tennessee Mountain Man and I don't know where he got that accent from. That the movie's absurd and false and lets America off a hook it deserves to be on, has nothing to do with my ratings.

I love Riefenstahl's movies, even Triomph des Willens, love Wagner, and enjoy German movies. I even allow myself to get dragged to a German Beerfest attended by men in Lederhosen and women in dirndl skirts. I separate art from politics, but I do know how effective movies can be in forming public attitudes and belief


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

You're pointing out some important historical details that I personally am aware of. But I also think that these facts are irrelevant in connection to this movie.

"What IG does is rewrite history to make it seem that America cared about what happened to the Jews."

No. It's an exploitation flick on a high artistic level. Tarantino just went hog-wild as a movie geek writer/director and pulls off this cinematic coup de main other directors are simply too scared of. He creates a bunch of characters and these guys change history by killing Adolf Hitler. gotta love the idea

if people form their attitudes towards history through movies...well, they're pretty much out there anyway.
But in this respect I resent and find a manipulator like Spielberg a lot more dangerous and simply insulting than Tarantino


message 3: by Tom (last edited Feb 17, 2010 11:37AM) (new)

Tom | 5483 comments "...society in which slaves wanted to be slaves, and that, in slave spokesperson's mind, Mammy, only bad black men wanted to be free."

How does GWTW make it clear that in the Old South slaves want to be slaves? Where does Mammy say that only bad black men want to be free? Are you referring to the film or to Margaret Mitchell's novel?

"What IG does is rewrite history to make it seem that America cared about what happened to the Jews."

I don't see the film as saying that at all. The Basterds are pretty clearly shown, as I remember, to be a renegade bunch of soldiers who are exacting some ugly revenge. I don't remember any indication that they are enacting anything like U.S. policy or anything. Am I forgetting something?


message 4: by Evan (last edited Feb 17, 2010 03:21PM) (new)

Evan OK, I had to rejoin this group just to respond to this, since I saw it on your newsfeed, Elaine.

First, I'm not going to say much about the aesthetic merits of Inglorious Basterds, other than to say I don't think it's a very good movie, apart, perhaps from the opening interrogation scene which is very chilling. Anyway, anyone who says it's a classic or a masterpiece needs to let it stew awhile and come back to it in 20 years and see if they're still willing to say that. Things like this take time. It's best to approach new movies with skepticism.

Apart from agreeing with you essentially that the two films "re-write" history (or more precisely, might be seen as a valid history by uninformed idiots, of which there are many), the comparison beyond that is apples and oranges and not apt.

Nobody ever said that Inglorious Basterds relates an accurate historical account of WWII as it has ever been understood; while if you polled a good many Americans about the history of the Civil War -- especially as it was happening and for most of 100 years thereafter--that half of the American public (encompassing many of the people who fought for or live in the South) believed that Gone With the Wind was an accurate view from their perspective. True or not, it was a "reality" to a lot of people. Whereas Inglorious Basterds is not, and doesn't pretend to be, anyone's version of the reality of World War II -- then or now.

I think if you want to criticize the movie, there are plenty of other avenues to take; since it leaves itself wide open. For one thing, the "basterds" themselves are the weakest thing in the movie, almost ancillary characters to the main action. They're like a cartoon thrown into an otherwise semi-interesting drama. I have a number of other criticism to lobby about the characterization of the main Nazi character, and why he is more an a-historical outrage than the "basterds" themselves, but I'm not here to write a review when everyone has made up their minds anyway.

Having said that, I do agree with you also, that the film is a kind of copout, re-fighting World War II in hindsight mode so that Americans, Jews in particular, can get revenge, at a time when saving the Jews was not even on the back burner of the war planners' priorities. The incident recounted in the book (and later, film), Voyage of the Damned pretty much laid it out there that the world didn't care about the Jews. They came right up to the doorstep of America and were turned away on the ship straight back to the camps. At least in Spielberg's Schindler's List (another film I think is way overrated, but that's another story), he did take a true case of the Jews getting a rare break. But all in all, I think both films traffic in liberal Hollywood wish-fulfillment of the worst kind and I say this as a liberal. After all, there's never anything particularly bold or brave in making movies that say Nazis are bad and the Jews got rooked. No shit. Hollywood would like us to think so, and, unfortunately, too many viewers do, too. When it comes to making things that really rock the boat, they don't really do that so much. In all of the history of the cinema, I'm still waiting for the movie that exposes the banal goings-on that happen a million times daily in boardrooms across this country that consign us all to perpetual servitude. You won't see that movie coming from Tinseltown, especially as all the companies that control what we see or hear are run by the same dwindling number of monopolistic conglomerates.

I think we might agree that a better movie might have been made about the machinations that went on in Washington and with FDR that kept the bombers from targeting the rail lines to the camps, as I think you suggest. But, unfortunately, the critics and the public are more interested in Tarantino's cartoons.




message 5: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Tom,

It's in the movie. I haven't read the novel since I was 9 & have no intention of ever doing so again, but I actually taught this movie in Race and Gender in the American Film. Mammy looks at a group of freed slaves marching off and makes a disapproving face and actually here or somewhere near this scene, she comments overtly on how bad someone was because he ran off when he was emancipated.


message 6: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Tom wrote: ""...society in which slaves wanted to be slaves, and that, in slave spokesperson's mind, Mammy, only bad black men wanted to be free."

How does GWTW make it clear that in the Old South slaves wa..."


AS for IG, they do say the Army formed this group. It wasn't renegade, it was guerilla.




message 7: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Evan wrote: "OK, I had to rejoin this group just to respond to this, since I saw it on your newsfeed, Elaine.

First, I'm not going to say much about the aesthetic merits of Inglorious Basterds, other than to s..."


I agree with you, Evan, but as for the American view of The Civil War, James MacPherson wrote a brilliant chapter on how Americans in the North in academia, believe that the South were as portrayed in GWTW. He notes that it is believed that the victors write the histories, but that, with the Civil War, it was the losers who did. Even in my college, Providence College, in their Western Civ program, they teach the kids that the war wasn't fought over slavery, but the actual letters, speeches, and diaries of the Confederates show that slavery is the only thing it was fought for. On the eve of the War, the Cconfederate VP actually said that and so did Jefferson Davis the next day. "Protecting our way of life"became the code for "protecting slavery" at the end of Reconstruction.

Also, you are so right about Hollywood and our government. It's disgusting, but where are we to go where it is better.


message 8: by Tom (last edited Feb 17, 2010 06:32PM) (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Thanks for the confirmation about IG.

As for GWTW, sorry, Elaine, can you be more specific about Mammy's comments, and about how the film shows a society in which slaves want to be slaves?


message 9: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Tom wrote: "Thanks for the confirmation about IG.

As for GWTW, sorry, Elaine, can you be more specific about Mammy's comments, and about how the film shows a society in which slaves want to be slaves?"


I suggest you watch the movie. I couldn't stand to see it again just to find the specific minutes into the film that show Mammy's dislike of runaways who want to be free.




message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Elaine, I'm interested. You made some pretty specific claims about moments in GWTW, can you back them up with anything other than a suggestion that I back them up myself?

I remember one specific reference to slaves running off, when Scarlett returns to the now-ruined Tara and finds only Mammy and Pork remaining, Mammy says something to the effect that the others ran off, but she does it, I seem to remember, in a more mournful tone at having been left to do all that work herself. Later, there's a rather ugly little shot of a couple of newly freed black men in Atlanta, dressed in fine fancy clothes laughing rather raucously, and Scarlett shoots them a rather loaded glance, dressed as she is in her mother's drapes, and Mammy, I seem to recall, shoves some rather ill-mannered folks out of the way with her umbrella.

"Mammy looks at a group of freed slaves marching off and makes a disapproving face and actually here or somewhere near this scene, she comments overtly on how bad someone was because he ran off when he was emancipated."

Sorry, but I just have no memory of this happening at all. Can you give me some idea of where in the film this happens? I may be forgetting the moment, to be fair, and am asking because I'm genuinely interested. I'd never thought of Mammy as being such a willing participant in her own slavery before that she'd look down on others for wanting to be free


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

i'm with tom i just watched that movie in my drama class and i don't remember that at all. sidebar: tom, kudos on the extensive GWTW knowledge!! i'm sending you a cyber high five


message 12: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments I don't know if you watched a version of GTWTW that didn't have cuts in it, but I have (not recently) gone through it virtually frame by frame, on the old VHS taping of it, and we stopped at the scene of the fleeing slaves. Either you just missed it, or the scene was cut out.


message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Watched it on DVD, Elaine, in the recent re-release. I've seen the film fairly often over the years, and know it pretty well, and simply have no memory of this scene. Can you please try to supply a little more information on this scene? Where does it come in the film?

Or is it possible you're thinking of another scene from another film?


message 14: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments After Atlanta falls and the Af-Am men are traipsing off. What other movie could have such a scene?


message 15: by Tom (last edited Feb 22, 2010 02:58PM) (new)

Tom | 5483 comments So is it after the big burning scene, when Scarlett and Rhett escape with Melanie in the carriage? Is this before Scarlett gets back to Tara? Or after?

I'm assuming that this is part of the first half of the movie, before the big "I'll never be hungry again!" scene.

And I'm sorry, Elaine, but there's just no scene of "fleeing slaves" in GWTW, not that I can remember, anyway, and I'd be glad to be proven wrong. There's one scene featuring a group of marching black men during the Atlanta sequence, but they're hardly fleeing: they've been requisitioned from their assorted plantations to dig ditches for the South, with, it must be remembered, Mrs. O'Hara's approval (Big Sam tells Scarlett "Yer Ma says we's gwine dig ditches fer the South" or words to that effect, I'll check to make sure.) Scarlett stops the group when she recognizes one of them, named Big Sam. She treats him very nicely, tells them all to be sure to get in touch if they need anything, and even gives him some money. Mammy is nowhere in the scene, or even in the city, having stayed at Tara.

Later, after Atlanta burns, there's a big scene of traipsing men, but they're Confederate soldiers, not fleeing slaves. Scarlett makes some disparaging remarks about how stupid they all were with their bragging and boasthing. Mammy is nowhere to be seen, as she's been back at Tara during the whole fall of Atlanta sequence.

So I'm guessing that this scene that you're talking about would have to be taking place in some other part of the film. Any idea where? Is this maybe part of the film involving the group of homeless men later in the film, two of whom attack Scarlett?

Sorry to belabor this, but this is really interesting. I'm eager to see how I could have missed something like this after having seen the film so often over the years.


message 16: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Y'know, I am very busy working on my websites and writing. I'm not into trivia. You can dismiss me as a delusional old lady or you can rewatch the movie. I do know that dvd's can have weird things cut from them depending on what master they were digitized from & many movies of the 30's and 40's were cut by distributors or the theater owners themselves to shave some time off the films. I have never seen a dvd of this movie. I saw it at a revival house when I was a teenager and later I rewatched it several times on VHS when I taught it. The other thing I know from teaching film is people miss parts of scenes in their memory because they didn't strike them as important. That's all I can say. I recall that scene because it angered me, as did the whole movie.


message 17: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments For the record, Elaine, if I thought you were really delusional I wouldn't be asking you to back up what you said about the movie. Just asking for some of the hard data your website claims you demand. Of course, if that's asking too much...

And just so I'm clear on the hard data: I watched the scenes involving Mammy again. Sorry, Elaine, but there's just nothing like the scene you describe in the film. No freed slaves, no comments from Mammy about bad someone was because he ran off when he was emancipated.

I guess it is remotely possible that the scene you say you remember so clearly was a scene that was removed at some point, but it wasn't there in the VHS, laserdisc, DVD or film releases I've ever seen. Of course, I freely admit that I may be wrong. Everyone's memories (even yours, Elaine) can be fallible, after all.

The ball's in your court. Once again, and for the last time, I promise -- If I'm wrong, show me how wrong I am with some of that hard evidence. Until then, I'm going to have to say that you're just mistaken.


message 18: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Feb 23, 2010 08:44AM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I watched GWTW last night (the blu-ray looks fantastic, BTW) and looked specifically for this scene: it isn't there. There is a scene when Scarlet is talking about slaves that have run away after she returns to Tara but mammy is not present. There is also a scene in Atlanta when free black men are standing about singing and Mammy gives them a reproachful look.

I'm still working on my review but my criticism concerns Scarlet's characterization: she is a most detestable protagonist. Not only is she spoiled, arrogant, narcissistic, and self-centered (at others expense)...but she whips a horse to death! I don't think the film was meant as a political statement, but I see Scarlet as representing the flawed vanity, entitlement, and moralality of the Ante-Bellum South.

Anyway, back to IB.


message 19: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments i've never liked gone with the wind. i've only seen it twice, but both times, apart from the grand scale of it all, it didn't really move me. scarlet is part of the problem, as alex says, she's not particularly sympathetic. i would have to go back and watch it again to offer a more well-rounded opinion, but i haven't the interest.


message 20: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments What impressed me was the depth of the other characters in relation to Scarlet, who remains totally self-absorbed. And of course the grand spectacle: it is beautifully filmed! There are a number of eye-popping set designs: from the ballroom scene in the first act to the crane shot of the wounded soldiers in the railyard.


message 21: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Can't wait for your review, Alex!


message 22: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments yeah, it all looks really good, and it is certainly the characters that surround scarlet that act as chorus or conscience, but the plight of this wealthy woman as the south crumbles just isn't interesting to me. i would have been happier if she had been tarred and feathered at the end of the film.


message 23: by MG (new)

MG Hardie | 3 comments IB was an interesting movie. It did rewrite history, the bastard were side characters. I think that it took guts for Tarantino to make this kind of movie in todays Hollywood. Actually I did think the movie was over indulgent, and drawn out, but it did have it's compelling parts. Nice history lesson.


message 24: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments hey m.g. - nice to see you posting over here!


message 25: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Alex DeLarge wrote: "I watched GWTW last night (the blu-ray looks fantastic, BTW) and looked specifically for this scene: it isn't there. There is a scene when Scarlet is talking about slaves that have run away after s..."

YOU FOUND THE SCENE ALEX! THAT'S WHAT I WAS REFERRING TO: HER FACIAL EXPRESSION WHICH SHOWED DISAPPROVAL OF BLACKS WHO WANTED TO BE FREE. I SAID IT WAS SUBTLE & NOT IN DIALOGUE, BUT FACIAL EXPRESSION IS AS COMMUNICATIVE AS OVERT VERBALIZING. (as for the movie itself, I always found it too long and boring.) Did you also find the scene where Rhett Butler is talking to Belle, the Whore with the Heart of Gold, and tells her she knows right way to earn money (or some such remark), which is signicant because Scarlett is engaged in selling lmber (or some such thing.) His real beef with Scarlett is her independence and working at a "man's" job. As for his self-righteous crap about her being a lousy mother, she protested little Bonnie's riding the horse and Rhett himself put the child on the horse, so he was the guilty parent, not Scarlett. I found this movie both sexist and racist, and, since I've become a Civil War buff, historically inaccurate and falsely portraying Southern society in the years before the war.


message 26: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments Elaine wrote: "Tom,

It's in the movie. I haven't read the novel since I was 9 & have no intention of ever doing so again, but I actually taught this movie in Race and Gender in the American Film. Mammy looks..."


Note Alex found the scene where Mammy makes a disapproving face at freed Black men. Since we put in memory the messages of facial expression as well as overt verbalizing, I recalled that she made the face, but falsely recalled that she made a derogatory remark as well. However, facial expressions are as valid a way of stating an opinion as overt words are.


message 27: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Feb 24, 2010 12:06PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Yes, the scene is subtle and I think it works best that way, since the movie is not meant to make a political statement: it's meant as only an epic romance. The scene with Belle is sublime because he dismisses her and you can tell that she really loves Rhett in a way that Scarlet never will (and I don't mean only a physical lust). The camera moves to close-up and there are tears in her eyes as Rhett leaves.

This may be one of the greatest technical achievements in cinematic history, and even though it's historicity is questionable (or dead-wrong), it is stunning to behold and artistically concieved.

But I can understand your grief with the film. I live near Gettysburg and have been a Civil War buff since 5th grade, so I'm also sensitive to purposeful or lazy innacuracies. I don't place GWTW in the same catagory as films like GLORY or GETTYSBURG whose intention is to tell a true story, so I don't hold it to the same standard. But that's just me:)


message 28: by Tom (last edited Feb 24, 2010 01:32PM) (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Oh, so that's the scene. I can't help noting that I'd pointed out that very scene in a posting above. And I have to point out that it doesn't really bear much resemblance to the scene you kept describing.

Thanks for clearing it up, Alex.

We now return this thread to discussion of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.


message 29: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (starshinejen) DD wrote: "You're pointing out some important historical details that I personally am aware of. But I also think that these facts are irrelevant in connection to this movie.

"What IG does is rewrite history..."


I also love the subversion Tarantino achieves. It provides me with a wonderful counterpoint to Spielberg's emotional manipulations.


message 30: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Was there any point to this re-writing of history? Or is it just for the bloodthirsty score-setting fun of killing Nazis?


message 31: by Phillip (last edited Mar 05, 2010 03:21PM) (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments that's how i saw it tom - tarantino's use of "history" was merely a flimsy excuse to wage senseless violence and set the stage for unabashed revenge.


message 32: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Although the film is an entertaining slap in the face to that whole "greatest generation" stuff, which I've gotten pretty goddamn heartily sick of. As an antidote to the bloated solemn guilt trippiness of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, BASTERDS has some interest.

But not a lot, I'm afraid. There's one memorable scene in SHUTTER ISLAND that, unintentionally I'm sure, pretty much puts BASTERDS in its place in no uncertain terms.


message 33: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments i'm kind of intrigued by shutter island, but from the various reports i've had from friends whose opinions i respect, i'm going to wait for dvd.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I also love the subversion Tarantino achieves. It provides me with a wonderful counterpoint to Spielberg's emotional manipulations."

Perfectly put. I remember a concentration camp survivor who visited my school pointing out how Spielberg used human suffering for emotional manipulation through cheap cinematic tricks.

@Tom: There is no point except Tarantino getting a huge kick out of it. fair enough for me. One could say that rewriting history is the ultimate cinematic act.

What's Spielbergs point in the cheap, chickenshit rewriting of the Battle of Ramelle other than having a setting for a gorefest with outnumbered US-boys killing Germans and culminating in an act of "justified violence"(the killing of the Steamboat Willy German)?


message 35: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5483 comments Well, exactly, DD. Spielberg's point was to glorify the US boys during WWII as part of the whole GREATEST GENERATION thing, and not incidentally to guilt trip us all into reverence for the GREATEST GENERATION, and all that, and it just pissed me off no end.

There's a great moment in the play AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY where a woman goes off on the subject:

"Greatest Generation my ass. Are they really considering all the generations? Maybe there are some generations from the Iron Age that could compete. And what makes them so great anyway? Because they were poor and hated Nazis? Who doesn't hate Nazis?"

Can you give some details about Spielberg's re-writing of the Battle of Ramelle? I wasn't aware of it.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

"Can you give some details about Spielberg's re-writing of the Battle of Ramelle? I wasn't aware of it. " (Trust me, I just await it)

I can. but then again, there's miles between us.

No I am not counting your Iron generation stuff.

may I still apply for some kinda "mewannabecool" axis kinda thing?


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