The film is about a group of Jewish-American soldiers, “the basterds,” who infiltrate Nazi-occupied France under the command of Lt. Aldo Raine whom the Nazi’s refer to as “Aldo the Apache.” The reason for the nickname is Lieutenant Aldo’s mission to intimidate the German’s by skinning their scalps after they’re killed or leaving them alive with a Swastika carved into their forehead. The movie also follows another young woman named Shosanna, who works for a Cinema House in Paris. Like many of Tarantino’s films, the characters, who are unaware of each other, are linked in the narrative and in the audience’s mind.
The screenplay runs approximately 180 pages, meaning that the film should finish around 3 hours, although Tarantino has said it could potentially end up being a two part story much like Kill Bill. I found the finished script to be polished in it’s pacing. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of self-indulgent fluff that I found myself cringing at while watching Death Proof. In fact, the script has me very excited to see this movie. It’s a big change of pace for Tarantino, who made his name making movies that were grounded in reality. It was with Kill Bill that he really started to indulge his urges of homage and exploring different cinematic views (such as the anime sequence or ‘The Tuteledge of Pei Mei.’)
The dialogue in this movie has it’s “cool” Tarantino flow, but it’s different. The lines are real and they are fluid, but they also are more practical. This is certainly a story that hinges less on dialogue and more on action, unlike other films like Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown. Interestingly, a large portion of the movie plays in subtitled French or German. There is even a scene that is spoken in faux-Italian (kind-a a-something like-a this-o.)
I found many of the characters to be very interesting and very likable. By likable I mean more interesting. Certainly I don’t sympathize with Nazi’s, but their character portrayls interest me and I am definitely enthused to see what the actors bring to the screen. Yes, Hitler makes and appearance along with other famous Nazi’s such as Goebbels. Even Winston Churchill has a cameo part. But, the main villain is a man referred to as “the Jew Hunter,” who is introduced very early in the movie. I think the opening scene is brilliant in setting the tone and establishing the audience to what kind of movie this is going to be; it’s unforgiving, it’s raw, it’s cruel and it’s definitely Tarantino-esque (whatever that means anymore.)
In terms of the narrative’s construction, the script reads much more linearly than Tarantino’s other ventures, namely Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. There are moments where we are whisked back in time but they are done as staggered flashbacks rather than entire segments of the movie. To put it in perspective, the beginning of the film and the end of the film are exactly that. The beginning doesn’t happen after or before any other part of the film, it’s definitely the start. As well with the end. The stuff in the middle may be jumbled a little, as well as stuff before the story takes place, but the film builds to a definitive end. It’s much more a straight line than the circular storytelling we have come to expect from Tarantino’s writing.
I don’t want to rush to any conclusion on what the film will be; others have called it a masterpiece, but I am hesitant. While it’s true that a good script generally means a movie will be good with any sort of competent direction, there is a lot that can happen between what you read on the page and what is seen on the screen. However, Tarantino is not a director to disappoint, especially with his hands on a script that is so well-written by himself. I am very excited to see this movie. It will be bad-ass, it will be full of humor and it will be full of beautiful cinematic compositions judging from the direction within the screenplay.