I don’t know why, but perhaps the reason is this: I don’t know how I feel about the audience reaction to the violence in the film.
To be clear - most of the violence is perpetrated against Nazis, and yes, they absolutely deserve whatever they get. It would be impossible for anyone to sit back and say that too many Nazis died in the making of this film. Because, technically…okay. (What I’m about to write may be considered spoilers in some circles, so be aware. If you don’t want to know anything about the film before you see it, don’t read this.)
However, during a scene towards the end, which was as brutal a massacre scene as I have encountered, where a crowd of people is opened up on by two men with machine guns from a balcony, the audience at my screening laughed and cheered and praised the inglouriousness of it all. Of course, the people dying were Nazi men and women, and included some of the top brass of the Nazi organization.
Still, it was strange to me to witness humans cheering on humans killing other helpless humans. That was when I was struck by the core of what that scene and others mean for historically salient viewers - it’s alternate history massacre porn. A fantasy, in which those who committed evil deeds against many innocent are rewarded in kind, if only on screen seventy years later. The shoe is indeed on the other foot.
A Jewish family I know rather well complained to me years ago about Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” explaining that it was no more than a brutal enactment to remind Christians that their god died for them, and how! That this Christ movie was not dedicated to his message and his teachings, but rather on the way Jews turned on him and killed him for claiming to be something he wasn’t. I remember they abhorred the violence in the film, and implied that Gibson got off on the bloody torturousness of the film. I’d be interested to hear the same family’s take on “Inglourious Basterds.”
That’s enough of that. Perhaps the film could have been less violent, and perhaps it could have been more violent, and the crowd could have been reduced to a bloody mash and not a viewer would bat a lash. This was, after all, Nazi soup.
I can’t figure out if I’m proud of the way Nazis are dehumanized in this film, after what dehumanizing they committed. I think I am for a moment, until I recognize that there is no dehumanization worth being prideful of. It’s not a good thing. Yes, they’re Nazis, and yes, they committed unforgiveable sins, and yes, this is a movie, but still…must I cheer when each one is gunned down and sent to Hell? I don’t know.
The film is good. Great, even. Dialogue is once again masterful, and Tarantino has once again shown his hand as one of the great character-creators in Hollywood. See it. But sit on it for a few days, and think about it.
Then see how you feel.
My post is also about to contain spoilers, so don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie because I’m about to discuss The Big Scene. Dad: don’t read this until after you see it, and I do want you to see it.
It didn’t occur to me until today how terrifying the final theater scene should have been to me as I was watching it, though I think it might be even more effective that it didn’t hit me until later. Think about it now.
The final chapter shows several times Hitler & company cheering and laughing at Nation’s Pride while each portrayed enemy is shot from the belltower. The machine guns open fire, we start cheering and laughing (I know I clapped and laughed as I watched Hitler’s face have round after round slam through his skull) at a gratuitous amount of violence, aptly referred to as “gorn" by tvtropists (and others I’m sure). Of course Nazis are evil, but the vast majority of them were brainwashed by a very fucked up man who happened to have a very good handle on psychology and how desperate Germany was after WWI for some sort of answer about what to do. Nazis were our age. My age. They didn’t know what they were doing any more than what I know what I’m doing with my life. Again, Nazis were evil, but they were taught evil, not inherently evil. Most of us have inside of us the ability to be Nazis, as terrible as that is, I think.
The more I think about my actions while watching that final scene, the more horrified I am at myself, honestly.
On top of that, holy shit, those people were locked inside a movie theater and killed. We were all sitting in a theater! Fuck, that could happen to us! Why didn’t that occur to me while I was watching it? It’s evem more scary after the fact, though.
If you haven’t heard of Esperanto before, it’s a very easy-to-learn universal language that does not belong to any country, making it totally neutral and totally awesome if people adopted it as their second language. It was created in 1887 by a guy who wanted world peace, basically. Only a couple million people speak it, not very many fluently. I’ve started learning from this website.
Yo what the fuck time is it there 7:23:21 AM Yo 7:23:23 AM Fucking loser 7:23:38 AM Christ the first person and only person I talk to in 4 fucking months online and you’re not even there 7:23:46 AM God damn you’re a failure! 7:24:06 AM Anyway, we just got these computers, they blow, whatever. I gotta roll, cya kid.
[to be clear, I was not yet awake, this was all his writing]