Quentin Tarantino talks Inglourious Basterds - RT Interview
The maverick director talks exclusively to RT.
Did you feel any pressure to get it ready for Cannes?
QT: There was definitely pressure! It's up to you to say, but I don't feel there was any quality loss in there, and there's nothing ragtag about what we did. Me and Sally, my editor, we can work fast. [laughs] I don't know if I really want to work this fast ever again, on this big a film, but we've always worked best under some sort of a deadline. This is not new to us. It was new to us in terms of how big the movie was and how little time we had, but we had a complete rush job to get Reservoir Dogs ready in time for Sundance, and we had a complete rush job to get Pulp Fiction done in time for Cannes, and we had a big rush job to get Jackie Brown ready in time for our Christmas release date. So we've always lived there. And we like there. We like not second-guessing things. You can fuck around with a movie too much. We like rushing the judgement. It's like, "We're going this way, and that's it." Bam!
During Cannes, the press reported that there was going to be a much shorter cut of the released movie...
QT: And, by the way, they published that before anyone had seen the movie! [laughs] That's BS. They also had the running time completely wrong. Everyone just assumed the movie would be 2hrs 40. Including me, alright! [laughs] Because we were rushing to make Cannes, there was only step that me and my editor Sally Menke hadn't done. and that was to watch the movie with an audience. And that's usually the last step: we watch the movie outside of California with people we don't know, and just gauge the audience. It's just a case of listening to them. Like, "OK, there's a laugh in that scene but we didn't realise it and we cut the scene too short." Or, "We extended that scene to get a laugh, but we didn't get it, so maybe we should think twice." I don't do cards, or talk to the audience about it, it's just about feeling. And then after we do that, we go back to the editing room, using little things that we felt after seeing the film in a giant room full of people. I wasn't going to use the Cannes audience for that. I can't judge it from that. I have to judge it from a normal, multiplex-y kind of theatre. And that's the last step. It's just a little bit of pruning. Like you'd prune a bush.
What happened to the scenes with Maggie Cheung, who plays the real manageress of Shosanna's cinema?
QT: Maggie was fantastic. She was terrific in the movie -- she's one of the best actresses on the planet and she doesn't need me to defend her. But it was literally a situation where we did the scene, and she was wonderful in the scene, but when we were cutting the movie together we realised we didn't need the scene. Not only wasn't it essential to chronicle Shosanna's first years in Paris before we see her again, it was kinda the opposite of what I would normally do. To describe how Shosanna survived is a movie unto itself. So I'd rather leave that to the viewer, for them to make that movie in their head. I've given you a little signpost, to how she could have done what she did, but I'd like to leave it open to your imagination. 'Cause you're either going to tell it or you're not going to tell it. Now, in the writing of the script I did feel it was necessary, in order for you follow the scenario on the page. But in the making of the movie it wasn't necessary. I've talked to Maggie, I'm going to show her the scene, and if she allows me to, I'll put it as a deleted scene on the DVD.
Christoph Waltz as Col Hans Landa, proud of his nickname, "The Jew Hunter."
All your films talk about cinema, but in this film, cinema is something more serious...
QT: The metaphor is not lost, you know, in that, via these film prints and via her cinema, Shosanna is intending to put the Nazis in an oven and create her own final solution. I must say, that's an aspect that most people don't talk about with regard to The Dirty Dozen, and to me it's one of the strongest aspects of that film. I don't know how much people contemplated that when the film came out. But now that we're so knowledgeable about the Holocaust, when you see that film now, you can't not see it: they create their own oven for the Nazis. And not just the Nazis: their wives, their girlfriends, all the collaborating-with-the-enemy bitches that are hanging out with them. They pile up those grenades and they douse them with gasoline, creating their own napalm, and they just burn 'em. [laughs] I mean, it's pretty fucked up!
So is this film about the power of cinema?
QT: Well, yeah. One of the things that's actually very interesting to me about that is that, one, nitrate stock can do that, so it's just a neat, cool, practical aspect. But I like the idea that it's the power of cinema that fights the Nazis. But not even as a metaphor - as a literal reality.
Inglourious Basterds is released in the UK on 19th August, in Australia on 20th August and in the US on 21st August.