those basterds

So I feel like everyone is talking about it… but in case you’ve been left out of the loop, Inglourious Basterds is a movie that comes highly recommended. By me, among other people. Whether or not it’s Tarentino’s best movie is debatable, but it’s definitely worth seeing. And don’t worry about the scalping and the carving of swastikas into foreheads: if I, a pretty squeamish person, can watch it and enjoy it as a whole and want to see it again, then anyone can.

I’ve been thinking about the violence in Basterds, and in other Tarentino films, and I think the reason it doesn’t bother me like violence in other movies does is because you don’t identify with any of the characters, really. He has that kind of postmodernist* distance in his films. Okay, this is a working hypothesis.

Obviously Basterds is notable for encouraging or allowing us all to root for the basterds against the Nazis… but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we identify with them. They’re all too over-the-top to be human. They’re more like archetypes, and even if we imagine ourselves in their places, we don’t feel the kind of connection you get between two separate living things. Yeah, the other thing is that the really bad stuff happens to Nazis, and when was the last time anyone had sympathy for Nazis?

Or maybe it has more to do with mixing comedy in with the gorey violence. That certainly has the effect of distancing the viewer from any kind of emotional investment in the action. Right?

At least that’s why I think the scalping didn’t get to me as much. You could let it get to you, but you’re not encouraged to.

* I don’t know what this word means so don’t ask me 🙂


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