Quentin Tarantino talks Inglourious Basterds - RT Interview
The maverick director talks exclusively to RT.
What do you mean by that?
QT: My characters change the course of history. And when I say that, I'm not just talking about Shosanna, or Aldo and the Basterds. I'm talking about Fredrick Zoller. If a German soldier had done what he did at that point in time in the war, I'm here to tell you that Joseph Goebbels would have made a movie about him. Just like Hollywood made To Hell and Back, with Audie Murphy. And if that soldier had looked like Daniel Bruhl, he would have been the star too. But not only that, Goebbels did make a similar movie, called Kolberg, which was basically saying, "OK, so we're not going to win any more battles - but we can make this big, epic production that will be a propaganda victory as if we'd won a battle." So I believe Goebbels would have done that, and they would have had a gala premiere, and a lot of people would have been there... And so on and so on. So it's just the idea that my characters changed the course of the war.
There are a lot of references to spaghetti westerns, especially in the music. How much is this film influenced by Sergio Leone?
QT: Leone is a huge influence on me, all right. He's probably my favourite director. He is my favourite director, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is my favourite film. His aesthetic and mine are kind of intertwined, 'cause I'm really influenced by him, but I've tried to go my own way. I've never done a spaghetti western. I couldn't do a spaghetti western. [laughs] I'm not that Italian! And the minute you shoot one of those movies with synch-sound it makes it a completely different movie anyway. But taking a style that he developed, and then applying it to other genres, does make it quite different. So he's a big influence.
Did you deliberately try to shut out the usual war-movie conventions?
QT: I wanted to stay away from all the silly war-movie clichés that I never bought into. You know, those scenes where a bunch of guys have to take out a guard, so they very lightly strangle him and that takes care of that. [laughs] They kill a German soldier and all of a sudden, not only is there no blood on his uniform, or even a bullethole, but it miraculously fits them when they put it on! All that kind of stuff. That was a big thing in mind that I had, but as the movie started heading towards a climax... You know, I've never really done anything like this before. It truly is a plot-driven movie at a certain point. The plot takes its time getting there, but it is about a big event. It is, in some ways, more of a genre film than I've ever done before, because the end does play by the rules. There is a mission at the end, and they go on it. Now, I monkey around with the expectations of that mission, but, ultimately, it is that.
Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark) and Michael Fassbender (Lt. Archie Hicox) during Tarantino's 23-minute La Louisiane scene.
How was it working with Brad Pitt?
QT: Well, Brad was a blast. He was a blast in this role. As I was writing the script, it went from "Oh, Brad could be good in this," to, "Brad would be damn good in this," to, "Brad would be fuckin' awesome in this," to, "OK, now, I need to fuckin' get Brad, because if I don't, what am I going to do?" [laughs] But one of the things that was so cool was, a lot of his character is about rhythm - the way he speaks - and he loved that character so much, he would stay in character for the most part during the day. It wasn't some method-y, psychotic kind of thing, or some unnerving kind of thing. He could always respond as Brad, but there was always a little Aldo in there. And I loved the character of Aldo, so to be able to hang out with him all day long was a joy!
What was your approach to the violence in this film?
QT: I remember a critic actually saying, sometime after Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, that I was too much a lover of minutia to ever become a master of suspense. So the technique I was trying to employ in this movie was this: the suspense is like a rubber band that's being stretched throughout the scene, getting tighter and tighter and tighter. And if I'm pulling that off, if I am successful in that, then the idea isn't to make the scene shorter. The idea is to see how long I can stretch the rubber band out. The scene should be as long as it can be, as long as the rubber band will hold. It should take it to its finest, finest point. And then - snap! And when it snaps, it's over in a second.
Is that why there's so little blood, especially in the first scene?
QT: Oh yeah. I thought it could be more horrifyingly realistic if you didn't see the blood. if you just saw the sawdust. Anyone can just - POW! POW! POW! - show that stuff. But both in that sequence in the La Louisiane sequence I was experimenting with modes of suspense, in a way that I've never really done before.
Continue on as Tarantino talks about the pressure of readying the film for Cannes, Maggie Cheung's deleted scenes and the power of cinema.