Dueling Film Reviews: WHayes on Inglourious Basterds

Posted 11/20/2009 by WHayes in Labels: , , , ,
War movies have been, and will always be a method for celebrating humanity's pesky habit of proving itself worth a damn during moments of otherwise pants-shitting horror.

This theme (or even genre-tenant) didn't evolve in a vacuum: surely it has blood-ties back to the novel (hello Tolstoy), and epic poems before that (Gilgamesh, the Odyssey) and is a tenant I largely support. I can't imagine any other way to recount events involving famine, disease, strife and genocide on such a massive scale without anchoring it in some form of silver lining: a glorious battle, a resilient warrior clan, a hero. Without that focus, war movies would be PETA montages for the Faces of Death set.

This brings me to World War II movies. The sub-genre plays by the same rules as its parent category, albeit while working from truncated source material: lets face it. That War, because it was The War, became a sacred text, one teeming with the personal struggles of millions, some celebrated, many unnamed, and all linked by common tragedy. The pool of stories authors and filmmakers can choose from is virtually limitless. Why, then, does Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds feel like such a welcome relief from the culture that brought us hundreds of films on some of those shining moments? Maybe its because in the current age of Band of Brothers, The Pacific, and WWII in HD, the whole "based on a true story gritty realism" thing is getting, frankly, tired?

Granted, it looks amazing, but how is that not recycling the same idea over again? After a while, its gotta get boring. Basterds, a movie that's in no way a retelling of actual events, is what this next decade needs to succeed. Medium differences aside, its how Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 makes nearly $500 million in 24 hours: take the genre framework and do something fun with it.

Take the time Superman defeated the Ku Klux Klan. In a bizarre but brilliant maneuver against the organization, writer Stetson Kennedy managed to work all their secrets into the Superman radio serial, producing what I'll bet my manhood on was a series of fucking stellar, intriguing, and innovative broadcasts. How different is that from Basterds? If the point of the war genre is to tell those triumphant stories, and mixing in a little "alternate-history cartoon" (as NPR calls it) with the aid of a talented filmmaker can still produce an amazing product, then what are they/we waiting for? WW2 may be The sacred genre text, and I am not saying we need Third Reich musicals, but it's still just a text. There's always room for a different interpretation.

(photo credit: Francois Duhamel/TWC)

0 comment(s) to... “Dueling Film Reviews: WHayes on Inglourious Basterds”


Free Blog Counter