Quentin Tarantino talks Inglourious Basterds - RT Interview

The maverick director talks exclusively to RT.

RT Interview: Quentin Tarantino on Inglourious Basterds

With his sixth film, Quentin Tarantino has fashioned the ultimate in pulp fiction, a Second World War epic set in Nazi-occupied France that sees two parallel assassination plots vying to kill off the Big Four: Adolf Hitler, Martin Borman, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler. Far from a weighty WWII drama, Inglourious Basterds is full of outstanding, dry-comedic turns - notably from Brad Pitt as the Tennessee-born Lieutenant Aldo Raine - and an effervescent black humour.

But while it dares square up to history, in ways that will surprise and possibly shock, Tarantino's latest is not irreverent and empty: it is a revenge drama in the most extreme sense possible, with a smart and unsettling climactic showdown that forces us to confront the very idea of movie violence as entertainment.

Debuting in Cannes in May 2009, where it screened in a slightly different form, Inglourious Basterds is yet another experiment in style and genre from a master of pastiche - in the true, artistic sense of the word - but this time with a ferocious intelligence we perhaps haven't seen before. Sitting down exclusively with Rotten Tomatoes, the director discusses his wartime adventure, over ten years in the making...

Inglourious Basterds
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When did you finally write the script for Inglourious Basterds?

Quentin Tarantino: I literally started in January of last year, and I wrote January through to July. The first two chapters in the movie are made up of older material. I did a little rewrite on them, but it's older material. Everything from chapter three to the end I wrote in that big go.

Were you aware of any pressure while writing it? Of all the projects you've talked about, this one has been the kind of Holy Grail...

QT: Not really, because I felt the same way about it too! If I couldn't make it as good as thought it should be then I would have just not done it. But I knew I had to write it, I knew I had to finish, even if it I ended up not doing it, just to get it out of my system. Just to move it out to the side so I could find the next thing. I had to climb that mountain before I could see where any other mountain was. Because I had thought about maybe not doing it. And in a weird way it was kinda liberating. Just letting go of the idea of doing it kinda steered me back to it.

Is there a reason all your films have two-word titles?

QT: [laughs] I've never thought about that before, but I guess that's right. I guess it just always worked out that way. To me, the title is always very organic: it's not just about, "Oh, that would look good on the poster." If for some reason I couldn't have used the title Inglourious Basterds, I probably would have called the movie Once Upon A Time in Nazi-Occupied France.

How would you describe it? In some ways it's very reminiscent of the earlier scripts, like True Romance and Natural Born Killers...

QT: To me, it's a lot like Pulp Fiction, it's a lot like True Romance and it's a lot like Reservoir Dogs. The La Louisiane scene is like a reduced Reservoir Dogs, but with Nazis and in German. It's a 23-minute scene, and instead of that warehouse they're in a little basement bar. But to me, there's this aspect that's like Pulp Fiction, where you have all these different stories that are going in one direction. In this, it's more so. The stories are even more diverse, but it actually is telling one big story, as opposed to being a big mosaic. But it also kind reminds me of True Romance a lot, because there's always a new character that comes in and takes the movie -- someone who just takes the movie and runs with it. Every 20 minutes it's like, "What the fuck movie is this?"

Inglourious Basterds
Mélanie Laurent as Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds
A lot of people might be expecting a Dirty Dozen-style, men-on-a-mission film, but Inglourious Basterds isn't that film, is it?

QT: Well, y'know, it was the Dirty Dozen idea that set me down to start writing in the first place. But that's how it always is with me: the thing that sets me down to start writing is usually not what I end up doing. Because, as much as I love genre, and I try to deliver the goods, I go off from it. I go do my own thing. When I sat down to write Reservoir Dogs, I sat down to write a heist film. Well, I did. [laughs] But you didn't see the heist!

You take a lot of liberties with history with this movie. Was that your original intention?

QT: That's not where it started. That's definitely not where it started. I had no idea that was going to happen. When you start writing, you have your characters on a metaphorical paved road, and as they go down it, all these other roads become available that they can go down. And a lot of writers have roadblocks in front of those roads: they won't allow their characters to go down those roads. For whatever reason - usually movie conventions. Well, I've never put any roadblocks on any of these paths. My characters can go wherever they would naturally go, and I'll follow them.

So what happened when you followed them?

QT: Well, on this movie there's one real big roadblock, and that's history itself. And I expected to honour that roadblock. But then at some point, deep, deep, deep into writing it, it hit me. I thought, Wait a minute: my characters don't know they're part of history. They're in the immediate, they're in the here, they're in the now, this is happening. Any minute, they're dead. And you know what? What happens in this movie didn't happen in real life because my characters didn't exist. But if they had, this could have happened in real life. And from that point on, it simply had to be plausible, and I had to be able to pull it off.

Continue on as Tarantino expands on his theory that his characters might have changed the course of the war had they actually existed, discusses breaking with war-movie cliches and working with Brad Pitt.


Bloody Mathias

Mathias N/A

Good interview. Definitely looking forward to this flick.

Aug 11 - 03:33 AM


Craigory Raino

Stunningly good interview, and Quentin came across really well. I have never read that quote about him being too in love with minutia to create suspense - it makes sense in a way, but I don't agree with it.

The reviews have been mixed but I am still very excited to see this film. Even if he doesn't deliver a great movie, the man always delivers an interesting one.

Aug 11 - 05:34 AM

Big Freeze

Frank Fischer

After watching the worst film of the summer yesterday (yes, GI Joe is actually worse than Transformers 2), it will be so refreshing to see quailty movies like District 9 and then Inglourious Basterds.

It looks like Basterds won't be the "men on a grusome nazi killing mission" film that it was marketed as, but if it is anything like Reservoir and Pulp Fiction, then I'm all in.

Aug 11 - 07:41 AM



Thanks for confirming what I'd already thought. I hadn't planned on seeing either Transfomers 2 or GI Joe. I guess sometimes that critics are right. On to better things: I wasn't expecting the Dirty Dozen, so I'm glad to hear that this is more akin to Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. After Death Proof I still have some reservations, but I'll be there on the 21st.

Aug 11 - 09:47 AM

Chris B.

Chris Bellew

no buddy. just no. g.i. joe was NOT worse than transformers 2.

Aug 11 - 02:44 PM


Auguman .

Definitly looking forward to this film, Big fan of Tarantino movies, I would prefer that he had follow his idea of "a bunch of guys on a mission" movie, but I guess a Tarantino movies is awesome, no matter the plott,

GI Joe even worst that Transformers 2? WOW, that's LAME guess I won't see it on the theather.

Aug 11 - 08:33 AM

Buddy Holly

Lance Karasti


Aug 11 - 08:36 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry


and if it weren't for Tarantino we would never hear STELVIO CIPRAINI or vintage ENNIO MORRICONE film-music in wide-release films.
I've gotta say:

(and FANGORIA magazine and FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and CHAS. BALUN of DEEP RED Magazine. and Phil Hardy's Encyclopedia of Horror Films (1986))

without Quintin Tarantino, all the "silly" and "stupid" and "insipid" Italian and sundry low biudget movies I used to watch on video as a boy

(movies from Vestron Video, Lightining Video, Thorn EMI, Embassy Home Entertainment, Continental Video, Wizard Video) are "still alive" and being remastered today . . . "they've" even have been producing high-quality soundtracks for the aforemenentioned films on cd for the past 15 years (Shawn Smith at Blackest Heart Media; "The fellas who will never show The Omega Man" at EXHUMED FILMS; CINEVOX Record, Itlay; BEAT Record, Italy . and TARANTINO!!!!!

Quintin Tarantino's THE MAN (for RESTORING GLORY and HONOR and critical RESPECT to the old "schlunky" cropped-up [2.35:1 chopped-down to 1.33:2 aspect-ratio] VHS movies of my beloved youth.)

Aug 11 - 09:12 AM

The NewHampshire Database

Kirk McCarty

Gordon Franklin, what the hell did I tell you about not posting anymore? Don't forget again...

Aug 11 - 10:32 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

for sake of argument: "schlunky" means Schlock to me in plain English.

critics today would pinch their noses and say in (Brit.) English: "A-list Schlock" about Tarantino (THE MAN)

[well, even Sage Stallone and Sylvester Stallone digg Edgar Allan Poe/Argento/Fulci/Lenzi/Castarelli as well: THE MEN, we'll say]

hearing the theme from
Polizia Ha le Mani Legate (KILLER COP)
by Stelvio Cipriani

buzzing in a mainstream movie in a mainstream setting blew me away

Aug 11 - 09:40 AM



Thanks for confirming what I'd already thought. I hadn't planned on seeing either Transfomers 2 or GI Joe. I guess sometimes that critics are right. On to better things: I wasn't expecting the Dirty Dozen, so I'm glad to hear that this is more akin to Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. After Death Proof I still have some reservations, but I'll be there on the 21st.

Aug 11 - 09:47 AM

The NewHampshire Database

Kirk McCarty

Gordon Franklin, what the hell did I tell you about not posting anymore? Don't forget again...

Aug 11 - 10:32 AM


a m

does Gordon Franklin have Asperger's?

Aug 11 - 10:39 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

concerning bad movies though;

as Gregory Peck alays said: Movies are not getting worse, they've always made bad movies; out of the thirty films being released each week there are only 3 or 4 good films released each year.

Aug 11 - 10:55 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

ban me from Rotten Tomatoes then "New Hampshire Database;" if I am not banned by 11:00 PM EDT 8/11/09 New Hampshire is a totally weak and ignorant person not worthy of addressing. and you are a "total nothing" in terms of issuing empty threats

on calling movies bad and critisim: I've totally stopped reading comments with "Gordon" in them.

People will say mean things all the time.

Suppose somebody reads something I write and it benefits them in some way?

A "Konzentrationslager Dachau" survivor wouldn't read Mein Kempf for leisure, I imagine.
nor would a movie star read the national enquirer http://www.nationalenquirer.com/

So you guys are "seething" at Gordon and what Gordon is writing and stuff . . but Gordon is not thinking about you at all. In fact its totally ignorant to specifically target people to critize what they say because they may sound a little different from you.

nor would a movie star read the national enquirer http://www.nationalenquirer.com/

Aug 11 - 11:23 AM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

Great interview. Can't wait for this film. Tarantino is one of the best directors working. Love him. Reservoir Dogs is definately in my Top Five. Him and Vincent Gallo are my favorite directors. Though not many would agree with me about the latter, at least we can all agree QT kicks some pretty harsh ***.

Aug 11 - 11:29 AM

Jack Waters

zachary leeman

Nazi *** that is.

Aug 11 - 11:30 AM

Rusty Broomhandle

Jaco Gerber


Aug 11 - 11:30 AM

Rusty Broomhandle

Jaco Gerber

If a comment with nought but the word "Gordon" is posted on a forum read by a guy who swears he will not read any posts containing the word Gordon, is it really there?

Aug 11 - 11:31 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

"creator of an OJ SIMPSON videogame."
and something else called "SCARING THE BLACK FOLK" on youtube.com

is blinkuldhc kind or unkind? (in general)

basically, in order to "post" (and fit into New Hampshire's or blinkuldhc's paradigm of acceptability)

I'm only allowed to say: "Inglouus bastards sucks" or "movies suck" or "the idea sucks" like you?

I know I can rise above saying a mere two sentences about how everything "sucks" or how "the movie industry sucks"

I read the word "suck" so many times on Rotten Tomatoes It makes me wounder what people think about to make them say mean things about stars and how everything "sucks"

Aug 11 - 11:34 AM



This is an exclusive interview? Does that mean it's the only interview he's doing, or it just happened that RT was the only one interviewing him (i.e., not a presser)?

I'm still very skeptical (or sceptical) about this film. Huge fan - have either really liked or strongly loved all QT's stuff so far, but I'm leery about this one. Maybe it'll all come together better than the trailers look. I don't know if I care for Brad Pitt's dopey accent or even the whole revenge motive. But we'll see.

Aug 11 - 11:41 AM


cody zimmerman

are you kidding me? All of quentin tarantino's movies have revenge.
Kill bill: uma thurman wants to get revenge on bill

Death proof: The girls kill kurt russell after he runs them off the road
jackie brown: samuel l jackson kills robert de niro in revenge

resevoir dogs: harvey kietle kills mr orange after he finds out he is a cop and set up the entire group

pulp fiction: Bruce willis is running away from marcellas becasue he didnt do wat he was suoppose to do by killing the guy who was suppose to win in a boxing match.

Aug 12 - 06:42 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

blinkuldhc (who may be named Alan and living in the Los Angeles). On Blinkuldhc's youtube channel there's a picture of an Asian kid and several links to items makking fun of black people. blinkuldhc is a minority making fun of other minorities and harrassing me.


Aug 11 - 11:48 AM

Delyth A.

Delyth Angharad

"I'm only allowed to say: "Inglouus bastards sucks" or "movies suck" or "the idea sucks" like you?"

Nah, just... y'know... stay on topic :P


Nia Vardalos IS Barbarararelelelellla! Make Berburilla a MUST-SEE film by having NIA VARDALOS as SEXY, HOT BIRBURALLI!


CAN nia vardalos BE BARRIBALLa?


CAN vardalos ride DRAGONS?





Ahem. Sorry, I got momentarily possessed by the spirit of Gordon. Fortunately I have a devil on my shoulder and Gordon is, of course, afraid of it.

Aug 11 - 12:13 PM

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