I have long written director Tarantino off as someone who values the razzle-dazzle of moviemaking over the possibilities of transformative storytelling on the big screen. After all, I had to watch “Pulp Fiction” in film class like every other film student, but never bought into anything more than the visual “wow” factor of it all. So I was in no rush to check out his latest, “Inglourious Basterds.” But after reading Movie Mom’s review -which while pointing out problems with the film surprised me by still giving the movie a B+ – and then reading a very interesting editorial in Newsweek called “Inglorious Basterds:When Jews Attack,” I began to have some nagging questions about this movie.
Is this movie about a small group of Jews who have a goal to torture and kill Nazis and bring their leader one hundred scalps each glorifying a relatively small footnote in history?(Examples of large scale violent Jewish resistance were not as common as recent movies, including “Defiance,” might indicate.) Is such a stylized, frenetic telling of these horrific slayings diminishing the experience of many Jews during the Holocaust? And most importantly, I have been asking myself since watching the movie, should Jews be outraged by this movie?
To say “Inglourious Basterds” relishes, revels and otherwise delights in revenge is an understatement. No, the bigger statement of this movie it seems to me is that if you have been victimized enough, traumatized enough, you have license to do what you want with the bad guys. More than that, the movie seems to support the idea that this is somehow the greatest legacy one can leave behind.
So I come back to the question of why I am not reading or hearing more from the Jewish community about the inglorious representation “Inglourious” gives of Jews and of a defining period in history. I am not Jewish, but all I can say is that I have to believe that if I was, I would be angry about my faith and culture being represented in a way that seems to attack the legacy of many Jews to peacefully preserve the memory of many who unjustly suffered and died.
If you are someone of Jewish faith, I would really appreciate you leaving a thoughtful comment on your reaction to this movie or perhaps explain to me why I am overreacting. After all, I just found this great L.A. Times article in which one rabbi agrees with my take on this and another rabbi doesn’t. So I’m looking forward to some lively discussion, Idol Chatter readers!