31 January 2010 @ 09:35 am
Inglourious Basterds part 3  






Thirty-eight minutes into Inglourious Basterds, something very strange happens -- the movie starts over, for the third time.

Yes, we've met Shoshanna Dreyfuss before, but only for a moment, and she was filthy and covered in blood before -- there's no way we could recognize her now, without a title card explaining who she is.  And who's this new character, the German soldier, Zoller, chatting up Shoshanna in front of the movie theater she now owns?  An hour into the movie, the one that started out as a Nazis-hunting-for-Jews thriller and then turned into an Americans-hunting-for-Nazis thriller, it suddenly becomes, of all things, a wartime romance.

So Shoshanna now owns a movie theater.  She's currently running a movie starring Leni Riefenstahl, directed by Arnold Fanck and GW Pabst -- this one.  I'm unfamiliar with the movie, so if there is a thematic resonance between this movie and that movie, I don't know what it is.

Zoller's pick-up line to Shoshanna is "I adore your cinema."  I think he's referring to the actual movie theater, but he's also looking up at a beautiful French woman in front of a movie marquee -- he could just as easily be referring to French cinema.  And there's a kind of sigh-of-relief moment here, as though Tarantino is finally doing what he likes to do best -- talk about movies.  (In an earlier scene, Raine mentions that watching Donowitz murder Nazis is "the closest thing we get to going to the movies," so it's kind of sad that he'll never actually get to do both things at once, even though he tries really hard.)

Zoller wants to talk about movies, meaning, Zoller wants to get romantic with Shoshanna (in Tarantino's world, the two things are probably synonymous) but Shoshanna shuts him down.  She's learned well from her witnessing of LaPadite's interrogation -- you can't let a Nazi interrogator play nice, they'll only end up killing you and your family.  Her guard is up, so she sees Zoller's romantic advance as an interrogation.  Since she's a Jew living undercover in occupied Paris, her guardedness is a perfectly sane response.

Shortly thereafter, Shoshanna relaxes in a cafe, reading a book (even my blu-ray isn't sharp enough for me to know what she's reading, although I'm sure there's a thematic resonance there as well, no one just reads "a book" in a Tarantino movie) and Zoller comes in and makes another advance.  She turns him down flat, again, and he protests "I'm more than just a uniform."  Which is, of course, one of the movie's themes: what do we see when we look at someone?  In wartime we see their uniform, but in peacetime, what?  Raine carves swastikas on the foreheads of Nazis so that they can never "take off their uniform."  And yet, one day he'll presumably take off his uniform, and then what?  Will he forever proudly tell of his exploits torturing, killing and mutilating German soldiers?  Raine wants Nazis to wear their monstrousness forever, but he's perfectly happy to internalize his own.  Zoller wants Shoshanna to see past his uniform, but Shoshanna knows she can't open that door -- she, herself, is wearing a "French civilian" uniform, a disguise that's keeping her alive in Nazi-occupied France.

A German officer approaches Zoller, then an enlisted man.  They're big fans of his!  This gets Shoshanna's attention.  The enlisted man has a French girlfriend, which is exactly what Zoller is looking for.  In fact, the French girlfriend turns to Shoshanna to tell her how lucky she is, so we see that it's accepted, and even admirable, for German soldiers to have French girlfriends, and vice versa, at least in the current society.  Shoshanna, however, as I've said, has her guard up, as well she should -- in her mind (and ours), French women who coo over German war heroes are traitors to the cause.

For that is what Zoller is -- a war hero.  Shoshanna's interest is piqued by Zoller's celebrity, and she takes the bait, asks him why he's so famous.  Turns out he's killed hundreds of American soldiers as a sniper in the German army.  "I'm the German Sgt York," he says, conflating real life with movies, which, it turns out, is what Inglourious Basterds is really all about.  Tarantino's movies have always been about other movies, but Basterds is the first one to make its reflexive quality its own subject.  Tarantino, it should surprise no one, sees everything through the history of movies and through the vocabulary of film.  His characters have always talked about popular culture, but here, life and movies come crashing together in the most alarming ways possible.

(Sgt York, the movie, is a "true story" about a hillbilly pacifist who ends up becoming a war hero.  Is that how Zoller sees himself?  Is he, too, a simple kid from the sticks who has stumbled into wartime fame, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time?)

How does Zoller feel about being a war hero?  It's hard to gauge from this scene.  On the one hand, he seems a little embarrassed by his fame.  On the other hand, he seems a little smug that the French girl, who wouldn't give him the time of day before, is impressed with his fame.  Is he a good guy or a bad guy?  He's a German soldier, which, in this movie, we've been told, by a number of different characters, is automatically "bad."  And yet he also seems affable, pleasant and even courtly, if a little pleased with himself.

On top of everything, he's now a movie star!  The Germans, it seems, have taken the "Sgt York" angle literally, and made a movie about Zoller's exploits, called Nation's Pride.  "This will be Goebbels's masterpiece" he says, adding, that they want him to be the "German Van Johnson."  It's worth noting that Goebbels, for those unaware, was Hitler's chief of propaganda, but also the head of German film production, a kind of cross between Karl Rove and Louis B. Mayer.  It's hard to imagine, these days, a studio chief also being a high-ranking government official, but them's were the times, and Tarantino could hardly make a WWII movie about the interstice of life and movies without including him.  Van Johnson, on the other hand, was an actor who was injured in a car crash and thus never served in WWII, but instead went on to play soldiers in wartime dramas -- a war hero on the screen, but not at all in real life.

Soon after her chat with Zoller in the cafe, Shoshanna is cleaning her marquee (she's now showing a French film, one by Henri-Georges Clouzot) when an SS officer comes to take her away.  Her worst nightmare come to life!  And the guy is a real thug too, telling her to "get her ass inside the car."

We now shift to a restaurant somewhere in Paris, where Goebbels himself holds court with Zoller.  As we come into the scene, he's spouting off about American athletes, "the offspring of slaves."  I'm not sure what his point is -- is he saying, in his way, that slavery has been good for American Negroes, because they're all good at athletics now?  (The reader will recall that Jesse Owens's victory at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was a major embarrassment for Hitler, and thus Goebbels.)  Or is he saying that Americans are weak and degenerate, because they let their slaves go and now their slaves' descendants are champion athletes?  (One thing is clear -- he is fearful and suspicious of black people.)

And now here comes Shoshanna and her SS thug.  It turns out, this is a friendly meeting about Goebbels booking Shoshanna's theater for a VIP screening of Zoller's movie Nation's Pride.  That is, Zoller, in his pursuit of Shoshanna, who he's got his eye on romantically, has had her rounded up by a Nazi goon in order to get a leg over, which gives you some idea of Zoller's sense of delicacy and sensitivity. 

Goebbels, we find, also has a French girlfriend, interpreter Francesca.  We get a brief glimpse of Goebbels having violet sex with Francesca, and it's unclear whether Tarantino is showing us what really goes on behind closed doors in Nazi-occupied Paris, or whether the scene is merely Shoshanna's fervid imagination.  In either case, it lays (sorry) the metaphor for Nazi-occupied France perfectly bare, and the picture isn't pretty.

Goebbels, and Zoller chat about Shoshanna's theater.  Zoller is popular enough, and thinks highly enough of himself, to lecture Goebbels about publicity, which is really kind of extraordinary when you think of it, since Goebbels has done an excellent job, so far, with the whole publicity racket.  Nevertheless, instead of blowing up at Zoller for second-guessing him, he sees something of himself in Zoller, a kind of protege, a kind of son.

And now look who's here!  Out of nowhere, completely unexpected, Col Landa swans into the room to interrogate Shoshanna about her theater.  Landa has, apparently, been reassigned since 1941 -- he is now operating some kind of security detail for Goebbels.  As the blood pounds in Shoshanna's head, Landa chats and charms, smokes and eats strudel.  He's perfectly at ease, but Shoshanna has witnessed this scene, exactly, before, and the last time it ended with all her family being killed.  "Your reputation precedes you," she says, which is, of course, another theme of the movie -- people creating public personae for themselves in order to get across one idea or another, regardless of whether or not that's "who they are."

Landa orders a glass of milk, which indicates that he knows who Shoshanna is, and that he wants her to know that she knows who she is.  Or, it indicates that he enjoys a nice glass of milk, and has for years.  In his interrogation of LaPadite, Landa was pretending to be harmless in order to corner his mark -- is he pretending to be harmless now, or is he actually harmless?

He knows a lot about Shoshanna and her theater -- a lot.  He knows that she has a black projectionist, and asks that he not be the one to show the film while Goebbels is there.  We sense that Landa is non-committal in his persecution of Jews, does he feel similarly about blacks, or is he actually a racist?  How can we trust anything Landa says, whether positive or negative?  Everything he says is calculated for effect.

As his interrogation comes to a close, Landa mentions that there was "one more thing" he wanted to ask her, but now he can't remember.  I see three possibilities here: one, there was one more thing he wanted to ask her and now he can't remember; two, there was one more thing he wanted to ask her but then he thinks better of it; three, he wants Shoshanna to know that he knows who she is, he's got her dead to rights, and for reasons we don't know right now he's letting her off the hook.

Goebbels and his entourage come to see Shoshanna's theater, which apparently passes muster.  However, while chatting about movies, someone mentions Lilian Harvey and Lucky Kids, which causes Goebbels to lose his shit.  Harvey, for those interested, was a British-born German star, who chafed under working with Goebbels and fled to Los Angeles, helping others to escape Nazi persecution.  Lucky Kids is, apparently, a German remake of It Happened One Night.

After the Germans leave, Shoshanna unveils her master plan to Mercel, her black projectionist so feared by Goebbels -- she's going to host the premiere of Zoller's movie, then kill all the Nazis in her theater using nitrate prints -- actual movies -- as her weapon.  That is, she's going to change history with the power of film, which, we will see, is also the intentions of Inglourious Basterds.



hits counter
 
 
 
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
Benjaminsamedietc on January 31st, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Curious that the interior / exterior question that keeps coming up--we don't like Nazis out of uniform, can't you see past my uniform--seems to be (for you and for your commenters) the question that haunts our understanding of Landa: does he like milk? Does he hate Jews? Is he sending a message or did he forget or is he planning? I've heard more praise for that actor than any other in this film, which is interesting to me considering how much of a cipher is (meant to be). Or maybe I should call him a blank screen...

Of course, as a blond, lactose intolerant Jew, I would be most concerned with Landa.
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
I think it gives some idea of Zoller's innocence. Not being aware of how an SS Officer is going to conduct business with a French woman. Expecting that it really was just an invitation. Along with his humility as far as his fame.

Is this SS Officer the same one from later in the movie?

As to the race talk, a nazi would likely look on the Americans using the blacks to win olympic events like they would a white woman sleeping with a black man. That is the Americans are betraying themselves and their race. I think the point is about degenerates rather than slavery.
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Concering Goebbel's comments about race, they are in line with Nazi ideology. The 'slave races' - Arabs, Blacks, Indians, Slavic people, etc. - were seen as physically superior but incapable of cultural achievement, and thus in need of stern leadership. To Goebbels, the success of African American athletes of 1936 was a case of America fielding beasts in a competition between humans, and thus to be dismissed.
AEnigma: Hmm.greyaenigma on January 31st, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
I can't avoid the suspicion that Zoller's story in the bird's nest, which becomes Pride of the Nation is actually the flip side of a real WWII movie, but I have no clue as to whether this is true, or which.
Curtis Holmancurt_holman on January 31st, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
"Mighty tasty Kahuna burger"
I have no doubt in my mind that the strudel-eating scene is a call-back to Samuel L. Jackson's sinister burger-eating scene from Pulp Fiction.

I never looked this up, but I believe the pulse-pounding sound effect that accompanied Shoshanna's POV in these scenes was from The Entity, a film in which Barbara Hershey is sexually assaulted by an invisible demon.

"Landa mentions that there was "one more thing" he wanted to ask her, but now he can't remember. I see three possibilities here..."

I can imagine that Landa would do something like that every time he ends an interrogation (or any conversation), to leave the impression that he knows more than he's saying -- even when he doesn't. Especially when he doesn't.

I have some thoughts about whether Zoller is a good guy or a bad guy and how that relates to the theme of whether violence is justified, but I'll think I'll save them until we talk about the last act.

BTW, I gave this discussion a plug in our new movie & TV blog:
http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/screengrab/2010/01/28/so-whats-inglourious-basterds-really-about-anyway/

Kspiralstairs on January 31st, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
When she said she was going to use nitrate film as her weapon, I came damn close to squealing with glee in the theater. It's perfect for Tarantino and the movie.
voiceofisaacvoiceofisaac on January 31st, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
So, what was the deal with the whipped cream on the strudel? I've heard someone say that this was Landa's way of trying to trap Shoshanna by forcing her to eat something that isn't kosher, but that doesn't make sense to me. As I've mentioned, I'm Jewish, and although I don't keep kosher myself, I've studied the laws. I can't recall anything in the kashrut laws that forbid whipped cream. There *are* laws that forbid eating milk products with meat (no cheeseburgers or pepperoni pizza), but whipped cream on strudel shouldn't be an issue.

So if it's not a kosher thing, what was it? Hammering further on the dairy motif of LaPadite's farm?

I wondered at first if his ordering milk was indeed a "gotcha" aimed privately at Shoshanna, but that doesn't make sense at the time; if he did know she was a secret Jew, then he should've arrested her on the spot and made sure the movie premiere happenned somewhere else.

BUT. Once you've seen the whole movie, Landa's knowledge of Shoshanna *and* his inaction on that point makes sense. Perhaps it's at that moment that he forms the first steps of his ultimate plan?
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on January 31st, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
I think Landa knows who Shoshanna is, but chooses not to do anything about it. As we will learn, he has his own plans regarding the Nation's Pride premiere, and whether or not Shoshanna has plans of her own, if he arrests her on the spot it'll make Zoller look bad, it will infuriate Goebbels, and most likely screw up his own plans. So he watches and waits, while dropping hints to Shoshanna that he knows exactly who she is.
voiceofisaacvoiceofisaac on January 31st, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
Sounds good. Any thoughts on the whipped cream, though?
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on January 31st, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
I think it's just there to add to suspense. It's as light and frivolous as the moment is weighted and dreadful for Shoshanna.
(Anonymous) on December 29th, 2010 07:09 am (UTC)
A lot of old whipped creams have gelatin in them. I am not Jewish but I think this qualifies as non-kosher
Ink and Pixel Clubinkandpixelclub on January 31st, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, we're not expected to recognize Shoshanna, who was covered in dirt and blood when we last saw her. This was also the time when Landa last saw her, a day he likely remembers as Tuesday, since he hasn't really struck anyone who's been commenting here as the "I'll never forget the one that got away" sort. On top of that, she was running away from him at the time, so he probably didn't see much more than her back. So I think it's at least within the realm of possibility that he doesn't recognize her. And I do like the idea that he will pull this line out to make people he's talking with think he has an edge on them, even when he doesn't.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on February 1st, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
I think there may have been an editing or continuity oversight that there's no glance back at Landa to let him plausibly recognize her face, nor a peek at his records to suggest he already has photos of the fugitives.
Ink and Pixel Clubinkandpixelclub on February 1st, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
Or perhaps it's just more important that we be in Shoshanna's position as much as possible: we suspect that Landa knows something he isn't saying, but we can't be 100% certain what he knows and what he doesn't. A clear indication that Landa would be able to recognize her face if he saw her again might have been more information than Tarantino wanes us to have at this point.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on February 1st, 2010 01:15 am (UTC)
Well, but the one thing we really do know about Landa is that he never asks a question he doesn't already know the answer to. He's a demon for research, which is why he knows about Shoshanna's projectionist. He probably already knew what Shoshanna looked like before he got to LaPadite's house -- he certainly knows it's her as she's running away, he shouts out her name.
Casanova Quinncassanovaquinn on February 1st, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, if Landa knows who she is in the strudel scene, it's almost certainly from the research done before the scene takes place and has nothing to do with him recognizing her face or remembering that "Tuesday."
(Anonymous) on February 1st, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Why does Landa allow Shosanna to get away in that first scene?

I saw this movie for the second time on Friday but still can't work that out.
berkeley314159berkeley314567 on February 1st, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
When you're busy eradicating a large section of population - and doing it remarkably well - why would you care about one person?

In Landa's mind, he probably doesn't see it as Shoshanna getting away, just a delay in the inevitable. Besides, he clearly cares more about the hunt.
(Anonymous) on February 2nd, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
Someone may have said this earlier. Perhaps, like Raine, Landa is willing to let some of his captives go in order to spread terror and fear, as well as his own reputation.
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Names and uniforms.
" I think he's referring to the actual movie theater, but he's also looking up at a beautiful French woman in front of a movie marquee -- he could just as easily be referring to French cinema."

I don't think it's accidental that Shoshanna uses "Emmanuelle" as an alias, thus taking on the name of a French sex film heroine who some have argued is as significant a film icon in France as James Bond is in England. It's well within Tarantino's mindset and tendency to mix in some junk culture with his complex cinema history thesis. It also ties back to your idea of "disguise" and suggests it has backfired - the more Shoshanna exerts her identify and conflates herself with french cinema, the more Zoller's going to want her.

Tarantino has a neat joke during Goebbels' interrogation when he gets confused about Francesca and Zoller's bickering over who gets to tell Shoshanna about the plan to use the theatre - Dr. Goebbels doesn't speak French, so he gets left out until he demands that someone explain things to him. It also becomes cruelly ironic when Landa comes in and Zoller asks him what he wants with Shoshanna - now, since she doesn't speak German, she's left out of the discussion, has no idea what they're talking about (except that it concerns her) and she has to look to the little guy who's been bugging her as her only possible protection (Melanie Laurent does some great puppy dog eyes in this bit).

Keep up the awesomeness!

-Le Ted
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on January 31st, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Names and uniforms.
If Shoshanna has named herself after a future French sex movie, Emmanuelle, then it also makes sense that she's named herself after future junk-film icon Yvette Mimieux, star of 1974's Jackson County Jail.
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
I think Raine probably WOULD "forever proudly tell of his exploits" in the war. And while he can take off his uniform, I haven't yet heard anyone(including the movie itself) mention the huge scar across Raine's throat. He makes no effort to cover it up, and my guess is that he wouldn't be the least bit hesitant to tell you the story behind it.
- Doctor Handsome
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Funnily enough . . .
QT has hinted he has a prequel in mind that will feature Aldo recruiting young black men to massacre Ku Klux Klan thugs. Presumably, he'll get the scar then (though will he already not care about who notices it?).

The potential to tie it into the premiere of Birth of a Nation and have D.W. Griffith and Woodrow Wilson get shot to death as the theater burns is . . . certainly worth considering (albeit a bit close to composing Inglourious fanfic, I admit).

Hmm, Birth of a Nation/Stolz der Nation - Is Tarantino trying to link the German film industry with America's cinema and its early racist tendencies?

-Le Ted
Hannele Kormanoblagh on January 31st, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
As for "Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü", Piz Palü is the supposed source of the British agent's funny German accent. I am curious if that all fits together in some beautiful way.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on January 31st, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
Well, it makes sense that, when in a spot, he thinks of a place he's seen in a movie.
Swan Tower: *writingswan_tower on January 31st, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
That is, Zoller, in his pursuit of Shoshanna, who he's got his eye on romantically, has had her rounded up by a Nazi goon in order to get a leg over, which gives you some idea of Zoller's sense of delicacy and sensitivity.

As the anonymous commenter above says, I took this as a sign of Zoller's innocence and naivete. I can very much see him saying, "Hey, Goebbels, how about we send a car around for her?," without realizing the effect that's going to have. My impression of Zoller was that he genuinely didn't understand that he couldn't be a nice guy: that however much he chose to act like one, he was always going to be dragging around the weight of Nazi oppression, and violence was always going to be backing up his friendly offers and flirtations, because these were the people he chose to associate with. I think I said, back when you first posted about this movie, that one of the few touches I didn't like was his heel-turn at the end, when that violence became explicit; but that I think Tarantino had to put that in, because otherwise too much ofh is audience would make the error of sympathy for Zoller. They'd focus on the friendliness and the flirtation, and let that distract them from the murders he's willingly complicit in -- even proud of. The subtext of coercion had to become text before we'd agree with Shoshanna's decision to kill him.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on January 31st, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, after Zoller gets Shoshanna her big night with the Nazi high command, he presses his suit in the projection booth, and when she refuses him he attacks her. It seems to me that, in the end, he's just as bad as Goebbels -- he'll charm and flirt, but in the end he's going to take what he wants by force.
Swan Tower: *writingswan_tower on January 31st, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
That's what I mean about the heel-turn. I think it would have been a more finely-executed bit of storytelling if Zoller hadn't broken into overt violence at the end, but I also think too many viewers would have misinterpreted it; when Shoshanna shot him, they would have thought, "aw, why did he have to die? He's a nice guy!" Thereby missing the point that Zoller is not, and cannot be, a nice guy, no matter how hard he tries, because of the implicit violence in every action he takes. (Which is the message conveyed by all of his previous scenes, more subtly.) So my interpretation is that Tarantino had to make the violence explicit in the end, or risk his audience forgetting the point of those previous scenes.

Which may not have been his actual thought process, but it does, for me, describe the result.
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
(At this rate, I'll have to register a LJ account because of this blog...)

I'd note that Zoller is not portrayed as a man who "chose" to associate with Nazi Germany's power elite. He became a war hero and was thus chosen by the people who enlisted him in an army at a perceptibly young age. His own pride in the actions that turned him into a war hero is debatable. Zoller certainly has an infantile fondness of the adulation it produced, but doesn't seem too fond of the time in the tower itself.

The explicit references to American war movies implies an intended ambivalence towars the whole concept. If Zoller is evil because of the career he chose, so are American war heroes who went on to do propaganda films. It seems more appropriate to discuss Zoller as immature and conflicted.

Also, I don't think your interpretation of the events in the projection booth in the last act can be upheld seeing Shoshana's actions after the shooting of Zoller.

Cheers,

-- Nem
Swan Tower: *writingswan_tower on January 31st, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
It isn't Zoller's decision to make films that I'm judging him for; it's his association with that entire side. We don't get his backstory, that I recall, and how he ended up in the army -- but I do think the clear implication of his earlier interactions with Shoshanna is that however he got there, he can't just decide he's not linked with the bad stuff. Every single thing he does is backed by the weight of Nazi violence, whether he chooses to use it or not. Which struck me as a more subtle and interesting message when he wasn't using it.

(The topic engages me particularly because of an extremely frustrating situation I ended up in -- it's easiest to gloss as an extended improv theatre kind of thing, where one of the participants simply didn't understand why everybody viewed his character as coercive. Yeah, he had all this power over the others, but he didn't use it, so how was that coercion?)

Also, I don't think your interpretation of the events in the projection booth in the last act can be upheld seeing Shoshana's actions after the shooting of Zoller.

I honestly don't recall what she did, as I haven't seen this film since it was in the theatre.
(Anonymous) on January 31st, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
It isn't Zoller's decision to make films that I'm judging him for; it's his association with that entire side.

I can easily sympathize with that, but IB does, by featuring the person of Aldo Raine, put a very distinct question mark behind that kind of logic.

I also agree that Zoller's behaviour is coercive; I'd simply argue that, just like the person in your own experience, he is not aware of it. To me, the heel-turn occurs when he resorts to verbal violence towards Shoshana in the projection booth: Having been frustrated in his courtship at every turn, he resorts to an emulation of the sort of actions he sees every day in the men who surround him. This is what costs him his innocence - and, in short order, his life.

I honestly don't recall what she did, as I haven't seen this film since it was in the theatre.

Shoshana, having done the deed, regards the vulnerable Zoller collapsed on the floor and is visibly moved. She steps towards him, her body language implying a relatively tender intention, as Zoller turns around and shoots her.
Casanova Quinncassanovaquinn on February 1st, 2010 10:05 am (UTC)
"The subtext of coercion" reminds me of Kirk Douglas' incredible performance in Out of the Past. He's almost always charming and polite, because Douglas and his character both know that he has the upper hand - everyone in the room knows he's the bad guy holding all the cards, so he doesn't have to ACT like he's the bad guy holding all the cards.

Inglourious Basterds prompts the ethical question if there's such a thing as a good person who's allied with evil, or a bad person who's against it. It seems with Zoller that Tarantino concludes that there's no such thing as a good Nazi. Is von Hammersmark good because she betrays the Nazis? By the end, Landa is on the side of the angels, but is still a bad man - his actions kill Hitler and end the war, but his reasons for his new alliance are completely self-serving. I'm not entirely sure what Tarantino thinks of Raine by the end - he seems to be painted heroically, but retains his monstrosity till the final frame.
Isaac Kelleymoondispatches on February 7th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
I think it is deliberately unclear whether Zoller was innocent or not about sending the goons to pick up Shosanna. My take is that he forced her to come, but in a fashion that allowed him to act as if he had politely invited her.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on January 31st, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
And yet, one day he'll presumably take off his uniform, and then what? Will he forever proudly tell of his exploits torturing, killing and mutilating German soldiers? Raine wants Nazis to wear their monstrousness forever, but he's perfectly happy to internalize his own.

Raine's got the lynching scar and his accent, so he can never take off his Smoky Mountain moonshiner outlaw uniform. And he seems very comfortable letting everyone know what a scoundrel he is, even to deliberately flaunting General Keitel's orders. "I ain't gonna be shot, more like chewed out. And I been chewed out before."
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on January 31st, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
I take your point, but Raine's accent doesn't mark him as a murderer, any more than Butz's belonging to the German army marks him as one. Raine has a choice after the war, Butz does not.
(Anonymous) on February 1st, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
We now shift to a restaurant somewhere in Paris, where Goebbels himself holds court with Zoller. As we come into the scene, he's spouting off about American athletes, "the offspring of slaves." I'm not sure what his point is -- is he saying, in his way, that slavery has been good for American Negroes, because they're all good at athletics now? (The reader will recall that Jesse Owens's victory at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was a major embarrassment for Hitler, and thus Goebbels.) Or is he saying that Americans are weak and degenerate, because they let their slaves go and now their slaves' descendants are champion athletes? (One thing is clear -- he is fearful and suspicious of black people.) "The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negroes win their medals for them. I shall not shake hands with this Negro.......do you really think that I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro?" - Balder von Shirach claimed Hitler said this after the 100m victory of Jesse Owens. In Goebbels view, the Olympics presented a great opportunity for propaganda – he viewed the games as an opportunity for Germany to present a good face to the world and improve Nazi Germany’s image. He also regarded the contests as a means to strengthen the will and physically inspire the German people. Almost every activity organized by the Nazi regime was done with an eye toward preparation for war. So I don’t think it is a question of whether Goebbels thought the American Negroes were good at athletics, or that the white Americans were weak and degenerate. I think Goebbels and Hitler shared the attitude that white Americans were betraying the “Aryan race” by “allowing” Negroes, Jews, and others whom the Nazis considered “degenerate” races, to compete in the Olympics at all. For Goebbels and Hitler, the victories of Jesse Owens and the other American Negro medalists were a direct affront to their misguided belief in “Aryan” superiority. It must have infuriated Goebbels and stuck in his craw as it did Hitler long after the games were over. In fact Hitler had told Albert Speer that the next Olympics would be in Tokyo, but after that, they would have a permanent home in Berlin. Presumably, he would have banned non-Aryan athletes from the games.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on February 1st, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
Obviously, I need to bone up on my Nazism.
(Anonymous) on February 1st, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
One can never know too much about Nazism.
--Ed.
(Anonymous) on February 1st, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
Question
Don't we already know when Zoller shows up in front of the theater that Shoshanna is romantically involved with Marcel, the projectionist? Or am I misremembering? (I haven't seen the movie since it came out.)
--Ed.
(Anonymous) on February 1st, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Question
There has been a noncomittal dialogue between her and Marcel. The relationship is only made clear in the scene where Zoller shows the theatre to the top brass.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on February 1st, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Question
Marcel first shows up, briefly, when she's putting up the marquee for the Clouzot movie -- the first scene between Shoshanna and Zoller has no one but them in it.
pjharveypjamesharvey on February 1st, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
there's no way we could recognize her now, without a title card explaining who she is.

I'm sure some directors have worked out ways to allow an audience to recognise the return of a character, even allowing for shifts in space and time, in ways other than title cards.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on February 1st, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, many have indeed, and there are a thousand ways Tarantino could have indicated who Shoshanna is without it. My purpose is not to criticize Tarantino's use of title cards, but merely to remark on a screenplay so radically structured that it abandons characters for twenty minutes or more while focusing on seemingly unrelated things.
(Anonymous) on February 2nd, 2010 12:01 pm (UTC)
Plus Tarantino LOVES title cards, even when unneccesary. Witness the huge, completely superfluous "HUGO STIGLITZ!" graphic.
- Doc Handsome
pjharveypjamesharvey on February 2nd, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
I agree that the structure of the screenplay is remarkable and radical, and am thoroughly enjoying your analysis, but for all the sophistication that Tarantino brings to the script he also shows an irritating tendency to treat the audience as simpletons with transliterated subtitles and his over-reliance on title cards.
o-R-o-C-C, people: 101 covermoroccomole on February 1st, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
The Clouzot film, Le Corbeau, was actually banned by the Nazis since it's a cool little thriller about paranoia in a small town -- the connections between the anonymous person blabbing the townsfolks' secrets and the policy of reporting one's dissident neighbors to the the Nazis no doubt felt uncomfortably close.

In the Medveds' The Hollywood Hall of Shame, there's a fascinating chapter about Kolberg, a big-budget historical epic that Goebbels intended to be the German Gone with the Wind, produced in the waning days of the Thousand Year Reich. I found myself thinking about it frequently during Basterds.

And I absolutely think that Tarantino named Shoshanna's alias for both Emmanuelle and Yvette Mimieux.
Todd Alcotttoddalcott on February 1st, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
I thought it might be Le Corbeau, but I wasn't sure. Shoshanna's theater shows a weird mix of current releases and older movies.
Curtis Holman: ThePointcurt_holman on February 2nd, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
"In the Medveds' The Hollywood Hall of Shame, there's a fascinating chapter about Kolberg, a big-budget historical epic that Goebbels intended to be the German Gone with the Wind, produced in the waning days of the Thousand Year Reich."

Does that explain the line that the English Film Critic Commando says that, rather than be the Nazi's Louis B. Mayer, Goebbels is equivalent to David O. Selznick? (Or whatever the exact line was?)

Nearly every time I see the name "Clouzot," I think of Peter Sellers saying, in a French accent, "'Zat is what I have been saying, you fool!"
protomodo on February 3rd, 2010 10:59 am (UTC)
What was that book that Shoshanna was reading in the cafe?
"Shortly thereafter, Shoshanna relaxes in a cafe, reading a book (even my blu-ray isn't sharp enough for me to know what she's reading, although I'm sure there's a thematic resonance there as well, no one just reads "a book" in a Tarantino movie) and Zoller comes in and makes another advance." \Shoshanna was reading "The Saint in New York" by Leslie Charteris. Simon Templar, alias "The Saint", is the protagonist of Charteris's novels and stories. Templar (is a reference to the Knights Templar, who were charged with protecting Pilgrims enroute to the Holy Land)is an anti-hero with a shady past, who takes on assignments to hunt down the worst criminals in the city. In this way there is a parallel between Aldo Rayne and The Saint. This is a clever detail, another barely perceptible parallel to the larger story, which he plants like Easter Eggs throughout the movie.
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )