June 19, 2019

Watching"Inglourious Basterds" in the Trump Era

“To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, I turn to movie critic Roger Ebert’s old review of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” (Trust me on this one.)

We know how deeply he feels about the Holocaust. We have seen “Schindler’s List” and we know about his Shoah Project. Those are works of a thoughtful adult. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is the work of Spielberg’s recaptured adolescence, I think; it contains the kind of stuff teenage boys like, and it also perhaps contains the daydreams of a young Jewish kid who imagines blowing up Nazis real good.

What Ebert wrote about “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 2000, nearly 20 years after that film premiered, applies doubly to “Inglourious Basterds.” Even though Tarantino is not Jewish, “Inglourious Basterds” evocatively captures the sense of outrage that Jews have felt for millennia at being the targets of violence, discrimination and outright oppression. Part of this comes from how the movie flips the historic roles — Jews, whom history almost always consigned to the role of victim, are here able to exact vengeance against some of their most notorious persecutors.”

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