Inglourious Basterds: A Screenplay Review
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Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is definitely an underdog in this year’s Oscar race. Though it’s been nominated for eight Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director), it often gets overlooked in the usual Oscar discussions—because everyone’s talking about this year’s big Oscar battles: Meryl vs. Sandy and Cameron vs. Bigelow. But don’t let that fool you. Tarantino’s World War II thriller won’t go home empty-handed this weekend. Christoph Waltz is a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor—and Tarantino has a pretty good shot at Best Original Screenplay, too. If you don’t believe me, pick up a copy for yourself. You’ll have no problem finishing it before the ceremony begins on Sunday night.

If you’ve already seen the movie, you’re already familiar with the story. But for those who haven’t seen it, Inglourious Basterds follows an infamous Nazi colonel known as “The Jew Hunter,” a Jewish cinema owner in Paris, and a band of Nazi-scalping American Jews known as The Basterds as World War II approaches its end. While Joseph Goebbels prepares for the premiere of his latest propaganda film, Nation’s Pride, the cinema owner and the Basterds become involved in separate plots to wipe out the leaders of the Third Reich and end the war.

Even if you’ve already seen Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, the screenplay still makes for a fascinating read—because Tarantino includes so many thoughts and suggestions in the screenplay that you won’t find in the movie. He carefully describes his characters, presumably giving his actors direction (though perhaps just as much to indulge his own wild imagination). He shares his own vision of the film. He makes interesting (and often amusing) observations. And, through it all, his unmistakable voice and his larger-than-life personality shine through—from his quirky sense of humor to his love of movies (which is evident through the plethora of references smattered throughout).

Of course, the actors add their own interpretations to the film, bringing their characters to life on-screen—and Tarantino’s direction, too, adds tension and suspense. You might find it difficult to separate the screenplay from the film (which is why I waited so long to read it). But, then again, why would you want to? If you enjoyed the film as much as I did, the screenplay makes a great companion piece. And if you haven’t seen the movie, reading Tarantino’s screenplay will make you run right out and rent it.

From its title page, hand-written in Tarantino’s childish scribble, to those last simple directions (“They ghoulishly giggle.”), the Oscar-worthy Inglourious Basterds screenplay is filled with gritty suspense and seasoned with Tarantino’s own brand of humor. It may look like a script, but it reads like a novel—one that you’ll relish from beginning to end.

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