Tarantino applies his trademark style to WWIIQuentin Tarantino’s newest film, “Inglourious Basterds,” is certainly an attention-grabber, as it combines the American film director’s wit and humor with the dark subject matter of World War II.
Tarantino said the idea of making a movie about “a bunch of guys on a mission” during the war is something he has had in mind for quite a while. Inglourious Basterds depicts a group of Jewish-American soldiers, known as “the Basterds,” who spread fear throughout the Third Reich by brutally killing Nazis in a German-occupied French village.
Ahead of the local release of the movie, which is slated for Oct. 29, the 46-year-old director talked about his new flick, his filmmaking philosophy and his unique style.
Q. Melanie Laurent, who plays the role of Shosanna, has a key part in your film. How did you find her?
A. Frankly she reminded me of Shosanna, a character that I’ve really cared about for a long time. I’ve had Shosanna in my mind for a long time, so I was very careful about who played her, and it had to be the right fit. When I met with Melanie, Daniel [Bruhl] had already been cast so we auditioned them together and it was like old-time movie star magic.
What was your image of Germany before you made this movie and how did it change when you went there to work on Inglourious Basterds?
I hadn’t really thought much before about bringing down the Third Reich in the way that I do in this film. I give this screenplay to Jewish-American friends of mine and they read it and go, “Yeah, wow! Great! That’s a wonderful fantasy and I’ve thought about that forever.” Well, it wasn’t until I started talking to Germans about it that I realized that it was their fantasy too.
For the last three generations at least, they have all had that fantasy. And they responded to that fantasy aspect as much as anybody, if not more so. One of the things they said to me was that they loved the script, but they said, “I don’t know if we can do this in Germany. You are allowed to do it, but I don’t know if we can.”
What would you say is a reoccurring hallmark of your films?
One of the things is there is a sense of humor in all of my movies that I’m trying to bring out. I am trying to get you to laugh at things that aren’t funny.
When I write my movies I hear laughs. And I’m not saying that I write it as comedy, but there are laughs there. You know, when I’m making the movie I’m imagining laughs, when I’m editing it, I’m editing it knowing that there are going to be laughs there that are going to fill in things.
So when I see the movie with an audience for the first time, that’s the completion of the film. It’s like a recipe that needs the last ingredient to make the cake rise. And to me that doesn’t happen until I watch it with an audience. That’s the payoff, to hear their laughs and know that I got it right. Only then do I feel the movie is finished.
You had no formal training as a filmmaker. Is it possible to learn about cinema and directing just from watching movies?
You know it’s funny, to me most cinema schools don’t teach you that much aesthetically - you need to come to it with your own aesthetic. And actually part of becoming an artist is discovering your aesthetic ... then you start realizing the difference between good work and bad work. And then you start to fine-tune your aesthetic. And then it’s just putting it into practice. I can say that the person who influenced me the most - especially when it comes to my storytelling in filmmaking, not my technical skills - was the critic Pauline Kael. I didn’t go to film school, but I read her reviews. They were better than any film school and better than any professor.
And as far as actual filmmaking is concerned in particular, it took me a while to realize - not when I was doing it but before I became a filmmaker - that you don’t need to know everything. I don’t need to know how to take a bunch of light stands and arrange them in a way that creates a certain lighting effect. I have people who do that for me. That’s a good example because I didn’t know that. Like, “How do I create this lighting?” Well, the answer is you don’t create that lighting. Someone else does for you.
People now refer to a “Tarantino-style of directing.” What do you think about that and how would you describe your style?
Well, I’ve heard the term “Tarantino-esque” thrown around. I don’t know if that’s for me to say exactly what it is, I think that’s more for people to tell me. I think that’s kind of a hard question because if you are doing what you are doing you are not really that conscious of how you are doing it. You just do it.
By Lee Young-hee [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Brad Pitt plays a Jewish-American soldier who leads a fictional Nazi-killing group, dubbed “the Basterds,” in Tarantino’s new film “Inglourious Basterds,” set during World War II.
Director Quentin Tarantino in the middle of shooting his new film “Inglourious Basterds” at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany - the area where the German army made war propaganda films in the past. Provided by UPI