Overview

Inglourious Basterds is a 2009 war film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent and Eli Roth.

Storyline

In Nazi-occupied France, young Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus witnesses the slaughter of her family by Colonel Hans Landa. Narrowly escaping with her life, she plots her revenge several years later when German war hero Fredrick Zoller takes a rapid interest in her and arranges an illustrious movie premiere at the theater she now runs. With the promise of every major Nazi officer in attendance, the event catches the attention of the “Basterds”, a group of Jewish-American guerilla soldiers led by the ruthless Lt. Aldo Raine. As the relentless executioners advance and the conspiring young girl’s plans are set in motion, their paths will cross for a fateful evening that will shake the very annals of history.Written by The Massie Twins

Interesting facts

  • In 2005, Quentin Tarantino was quoted as saying that he had written the script, a World War II story, but that he needed to convert it to a shooting script. He said that writing the script and preparing a shooting script were “two different things”.
  • Quentin Tarantino started writing this movie before Kill Bill: Vol. 1 but could not decide on a good ending and decide to put it on hold to do Kill Bill with Uma Thurman, a project he had been mentally preparing since Pulp Fiction.
  • Quentin Tarantino intended for this to be as much a war film as a spaghetti western, and considered titling the movie “Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France”. He gave that title instead to the first chapter of the film.
  • Quentin Tarantino worked on the script for almost a decade.
  • British actor Simon Pegg was originally set to play Lt. Archie Hicox but was forced to pull out of the project because of scheduling conflicts. Michael Fassbender replaced him.
  • Quentin Tarantino approached Adam Sandler to play Sgt. Donny Donowitz, but Sandler had to turn it down because the schedule conflicted with the filming of Funny People.
  • The role of Francesca Mondino was written especially for Julie Dreyfus, who played a similar character in Quentin Tarantino’s previous movie, Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
  • Nastassja Kinski was in talks for the role of Bridget Von Hammersmark; Quentin Tarantino even flew to Germany to meet the actress, but a deal wasn’t reached.
  • Isabelle Huppert was the first choice for Madame Mimieux, the former owner of the cinema featured in the film. But scheduling conflicts got in the way, so Quentin Tarantino cast Maggie Cheung in the role. The role wound up being cut out of the finished film.
  • Tim Roth was in talks with Quentin Tarantino to play Lt. Archie Hicox.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio was the first choice for Col. Hans Landa, but Quentin Tarantino then decided that a German-speaking actor should play the part.
  • Despite being Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino’s first time working together, Brad had co-starred in True Romance (which was written by Tarantino).
  • The name of Til Schweiger’s character, Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz, is a homage to Mexican B-movie actor Hugo Stiglitz.
  • The name of Brad Pitt’s character, Lt. Aldo Raine, is an homage to both the actor and WWII veteran Aldo Ray and a character from Rolling Thunder, Charles Rane (played by William Devane). One of the casting directors, Johanna Ray, is Aldo Ray’s ex-wife.
  • On German advertisement materials all swastikas were removed or covered up, as it was unclear to the distributor if the swastikas violated German law (which prohibits the exhibition of Nazi symbols except for purposes such as historical accuracy).
  • When asked about the misspelled title, director Quentin Tarantino gave the following answer: “Here’s the thing. I’m never going to explain that. You do an artistic flourish like that, and to explain it would just take the piss out of it and invalidate the whole stroke in the first place.”
  • Eli Roth directed the film-within-the-film, “Nation’s Pride”. Quentin Tarantino asked Roth to direct the short, and Roth requested his brother Gabriel Roth join him to direct behind a second camera, which Tarantino agreed to. In two days the brothers got 130 camera setups, and Tarantino was so pleased he gave Roth a third day that he was originally planning to shoot with actor Daniel Brühl. Roth got 50 more setups the third day, much to Tarantino’s delight. The total running time of the short is 5:30, and was always intended to feel like pieces of a longer film, not a coherent short.
  • Eli Roth put on 35 pounds of muscle to play Donnie Donowitz, “The Bear Jew”. Roth also learned to cut hair for the role from producer Pilar Savone’s father Umberto at his salon in Beverly Hills.
  • Released theatrically in the US on the same day as Shorts by Robert Rodriguez. Quentin Tarantino and Rodriguez’ last film was their collaboration Grindhouse.
  • Rumor had it that Harvey Weinstein was trying to force Quentin Tarantino to cut 40 minutes of the movie (which ran 148 minutes) after getting feedback from Cannes Film Festival. However, Harvey denied this rumor, stating that Tarantino was reorganizing some scenes since he didn’t have enough time to completely finish editing the film before sending it to Cannes, since he was given only six weeks to edit, whereas other directors are given normally six months to a year. In fact, the theatrical cut runs one minute longer than the cut that was premiered at Cannes.
  • The name Wilhelm Wicki (played by Gedeon Burkhard) is an homage to directors Georg Wilhelm Pabst and Bernhard Wicki.
  • The mock up posters for the propaganda film “Stolz der Nation” are historically accurate including a German censor approval stamp and they are rendered in the style of the actual film posters of that era, according to the book ‘Film Posters of the Third Reich’.
  • Michael Fassbender’s performance as Lt. Archie Hilcox is layered with irony due to his real life. Fassbender was born in Germany to German and Irish parents and raised in Ireland, now residing in London with fluency in German as his first language and English as his second, and a mastery of English accents and dialects. Here he plays an Englishman who goes undercover as a German, and who can speak German fluently, but cannot hide his accent.
  • WILHELM SCREAM: The Scream appears during two deaths in the film. The first half-second of the sound clip appears about 90 minutes into the movie, and the remainder of the scream appears about 20 minutes later. In the film-within-the-film, “Nation’s Pride”, the Wilhelm Scream can be heard when a soldier is shot and falls from an upper window.
  • The final cut of the film ran three hours and ten minutes. Before its first public showing, Quentin Tarantino and Sally Menke cut it down to its final length in two days.
  • Shosanna Dreyfus is named after actress Julie Dreyfus, who appears in the film as Francesca Mondino.
  • When Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) mentions former UFA actress Lilian Harvey, Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) throws a tantrum and screams never to mention that name in his presence. Lilian Harvey had to flee Nazi Germany in 1939 after helping Jewish choreographer Jens Keith to escape to Switzerland.
  • The surname of Omar Ulmer is a reference to German Expressionist filmmaker Edgar G. Ulmer.
  • When asked how he got into the violent, baseball bat-wielding mindset of “The Bear Jew”, Eli Roth partially attributed his performance to the historically accurate costumes: “Being in wool underwear will make you want to kill anything.” He also stated (in a separate interview) that his girlfriend had secretly added some Hannah Montana music onto his iPod; when he listened to it, it inexplicably made him able to tap into the violent nature of The Bear Jew.
  • In a scene in the movie theater, Eli Roth’s character Sgt. Donny Donowitz uses the alias “Antonio Margheriti”. This alias is named after cult Italian director Antonio Margheriti (director of such films as Cannibal Apocalypse), one of Roth’s and Quentin Tarantino’s favorite directors.
  • During the final card game at the LaLouisiane tavern, the card that Hellstrom (the Gestapo major) has to identify is King Kong. King Kong was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite movies.
  • One of the Jewish names carved on The Bear Jew’s bat is Anne Frank.
  • A deleted scene reveals the origins of The Bear Jew’s bat. This scene was still in the film during the screening at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • The character of Kliest is only present as a telephone voice, spoken by the German actor Christian Brückner. Similarly, the character of the OSS Commander is only heard as a voice on the radio, played by Harvey Keitel. Christian Brückner provided the German dubbing voice for Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction.
  • Cloris Leachman originally appeared in the film as Mrs. Himmelstein, an elderly Jewish woman living in Boston. Although filmed, the scenes featuring Mrs. Himmelstein drinking tea with Donny Donowitz (and signing his trademark baseball bat afterward) were cut from the final film. Quentin Tarantino says that he might use the footage in the prequel instead.
  • Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) wears the insignia of the British Combined Operations Command, which included forces from all the British services as well as other allied forces as well as the famous Commandos.
  • Daniel Brühl dubbed himself for the Spanish version of the film.
  • Quentin Tarantino’s highest-grossing film since Pulp Fiction.
  • When Brad Pitt’s character, Lt. Aldo Raine, pretends to be an Italian actor near the end of the movie, he uses name “Enzo Girolami”, which is the birth name of the director of original Inglorious Bastards (The Inglorious Bastards), Enzo G. Castellari.
  • Donowitz talks about “Teddy Ballgame” in Chapter 2. This is one of the many nicknames for Ted Williams, who in addition (arguably) to being the greatest hitter who ever lived, was also a war hero who interrupted his baseball career twice to serve in WWII and the Korean War.
  • The role of Col. Hans Landa is that of a notorious and merciless “Jew Hunter”. In real life, Christoph Waltz has a son who is a rabbi.
  • One of the movie posters shows a bloody German helmet dangling from an equally bloody baseball bat. Typically, one would see the logo “Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville, Kentucky” branded on a bat. However, the city reads “Knoxville TN”, which is Quentin Tarantino’s hometown.
  • Stiglitz’s knife has written on it ‘Meine Ehre heisst Treue’, which means ‘Loyalty is my honor’. (lit. ‘My honor is named loyalty’)
  • The role of Shosanna Dreyfus’s father, Jakob (briefly seen hiding beneath the floorboards in Perrier LaPadite’s farmhouse), was played by the Swiss actor Patrick Elias, whose father, Buddy Elias, is a first cousin of Anne Frank.
  • The name of Dieter Hellstrom is a reference to the Marvel Comics character Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan (also known as Hellstorm).
  • Roughly only 30% of the film is in spoken English, the language which dominates the film is either French or German, with a little Italian. Chapter Three of the film ‘German Night in Paris’ is completely devoid of any English. This is highly unusual for a Hollywood production.
  • Christoph Waltz’s character speaks the most different languages in the movie out of anyone else in the cast, 4 (English, French, German, and Italian).
  • As of 2010, this is Quentin Tarantino’s film with the most Academy Award nominations (8).
  • The literary character Sherlock Holmes is referred at least twice in the film. The first one is Landa’s smoking pipe, which is a Calabash Meerschaum, the exact same one that Holmes’ used. Also another reference to Holmes is Landa’s line, “A damn good detective. Finding people is my specialty.”
  • To prepare for her role, Mélanie Laurent worked as a film projectionist for a few weeks at New Beverly Cinema, projecting mostly cartoons and trailers before shows. The real test set by Quentin Tarantino was for her to screen Reservoir Dogs.
  • The character Frederick Zoller was largely based on movie star Audie Murphy. After casting, Daniel Brühl was brought in for audition sessions for French actresses vying for the role of Shosanna.
  • Denis Ménochet, who played Perrier LaPadite, was the first person to audition for the role.
  • Shosanna’s cinema was modeled after a few cinemas in California, but it was the Vista Cinema Silverlake and Los Angeles Theater that were main influences in its design.
  • At the end of each take, actors would face the camera and say “Hello Sally”, referring to Sally Menke, the film’s editor. This practice has been since Quentin Tarantino’s previous movies (such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Death Proof). Inglourious Basterds was the last film by Tarantino to be edited by Menke, who’s work was honored in 2010 with her final Academy Award nomination for Best Editing, prior to her death later that year.
  • Christoph Waltz dubbed his own performance in the German version.
  • This is the second film that Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger have appeared in together. However it is the first in which they interact, as their respective characters never actually met in their first collaboration, Troy.
  • According to Brad Pitt, the film was shot sequentially.
  • Quentin Tarantino originally cast Nicholas Shumaker as the member of the Basterds later played by assistant director Carlos Fidel. Shumaker could not commit to the film due to his own film being green-lit.
  • Ironically, because Diane Kruger’s best known performances were in English speaking films, Quentin Tarantino thought she was an American, and doubted whether she could master the German dialogue and accent. Upon audition, she quickly proved to him that she was a native speaking German.
  • Only five characters in the movie appear in more than two chapters (Hans Landa, Aldo Raine, Donny Donowitz, Shosanna, and Adolf Hitler). Hans Landa appears in four chapters, the most of any character throughout the movie.
  • The dialogue is in English for approximately 42% of the running time, in German for 28%, in French for 22%, and in Italian for 1%. There is a 54-minute stretch in which less than nine minutes of dialogue are in English, including 25 straight minutes in which no English is spoken.
  • As of 2010, it is the only Quentin Tarantino film to win an Oscar for acting (Christoph Waltz, for Best Supporting Actor). John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Uma Thurman were all nominated for Pulp Fiction (for Best Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress respectively) and Robert Forster was nominated for Jackie Brown (Best Supporting Actor). They each lost to Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Dianne Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway) and Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting.
  • Due to scheduling conflicts, David Krumholtz was not able to play the role of PFC Hirschberg. He was replaced by Samm Levine who played his brother on Freaks and Geeks.
  • Archie Hicox’s (Michael Fassbender) uniform: He wears the Commando Green Beret, the Combined Operations badge on his left arm, ‘No.4 COMMANDO’ flashes on his shoulders and an Intelligence Corps cap badge on his beret. This means he was an Intelligence Corps officer who passed the Commando Course at Achnacarry and was serving at the time as part of ‘No.4 COMMANDO’ (A Commando means both a commando trained individual and a battalion sized formation of commando troops). His 2 medals are the Military Cross (an award for bravery in the face of the enemy) and the Africa Star. This means he was in Africa 1942-43, during which time his conduct earned him the MC.
  • Gen. Ed. Fenech’s (Mike Myers) uniform: He wears the ‘No. 2′ dress of the British Army, an Officer’s Sam Browne belt, the red collar Georgettes of a General, however the view of his buttons is not clear enough to discern his regiment or corps. His medal ribbons include: either an OBE, CBE or KBE (you cannot tell from the ribbon), Transport Medal 1903 (South Africa or China), 1914 Star (with mention in dispatches), The British War Medal (WW1), the Victory Medal (WW1, with mention in dispatches), The General Service Medal (cannot tell which campaign) and then four more medals that I am unable to trace.
  • At the premiere, Col. Landa is wearing a golden medal around his neck which covers his tie. This is the Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross in Gold with Swords to recognize non-combat contributions to the Third Reich war effort. Only nine awards were made during the war and it was actually instituted in October 1944 so it was impossible for Landa to be a recipient.
  • B.J. Novak had to take a leave from appearing on The Office in order to play Pfc. Utivich. His absence on the show was explained by his character going to ‘Thailand with friends from high school’.
  • In the basement bar scene, one of the enlisted men refers to Karl May and says his character is Winnetou. This is a reference to the western-theme adventure books by German author Karl May (1842-1912). Winnetou was a Native American hero in several of the books. May was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite authors.
  • The three girls getting an autograph from Zoller in the cinema wear the distinctive brown jackets of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM), the girls branch of the Hitler Youth.
  • The large Nazi eagle displayed in the cinema lobby is based on a bronze eagle that was in the Reichs Chancellery in Berlin, by Kurt Schmid-Ehmen. The original Berlin eagle is now in the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Col. Hans Landa addresses all Germans of lower rank as “Herman”.
  • Michael Madsen was originally announced to star as a character named Babe Buchinsky. This character was named for Charles Buchinsky, better known by his stage name Charles Bronson, who starred in The Dirty Dozen, an inspiration for Inglourious Basterds.
  • According to Eddie Murphy, he was in talks with Quentin Tarantino for a role in the film.
  • Ennio Morricone was attached to score the film before pulling out due to a scheduling conflict with Baarìa. Several of Morricone’s songs from other films were sampled in the film instead.
  • The title Inglourious Basterds was inspired by “The Inglorious Bastards”, the English title of Enzo G. Castellari’s The Inglorious Bastards, which is also about a group of American GIs wreaking havoc behind enemy lines, although the stories are wholly different in all other respects. (English Title: “The Inglorious Bastards”. The Italian title literally translates as “That Cursed Armored Train”.). Castellari returned the favor by calling his new movie Caribbean Basterds.
  • Mike Myers’ character Ed Fenech is named after Giallo Scream Queen Edwige Fenech. She quit acting but last appeared in Hostel: Part II, directed by Eli Roth who plays the Bear Jew.
  • The second time Sylvester Groth has played Josef Goebbels (the first being My Führer). Martin Wuttke – who plays Adolf Hitler – previously played Goebbels in Rosenstrasse.
  • In the film, a group of German soldiers are playing a game where one has to guess what famous name is written on one’s forehead. The note on the soldier played by Ken Duken reads Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who became known for being a double agent for Germany during World War I. This mirrors the role played by Diane Kruger: a famous actress turned double agent for the Allies during World War II.
  • Quentin Tarantino met with Brad Pitt at Chateau Miraval in France where he lives with Angelina Jolie. They talked about Brad playing the role of Aldo Raine over the course of a night and five bottles of the estate’s own Pink Floyd Rose when he accepted the role.
  • When Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is introduced, he is shown wearing the insignia for the “Black Devils” the 1st Special Service Force, composed of both Canadian and American soldiers.
  • Quentin Tarantino called Rod Taylor personally to offer him the role of Sir Winston Churchill. When Taylor learned the movie was going to be shot in Germany, he pointed out that Albert Finney lived across the pond in England and had played Churchill six or seven times. Tarantino replied, “If Rod Taylor turns me down, I’ll call Albert Finney.” Taylor accepted the part.
  • Director Enzo G. Castellari of The Inglorious Bastards/Inglorious Bastards allowed Quentin Tarantino to use the title Inglourious Basterds in exchange for a cameo as a general yelling “Fire!” (as Castellari appears in his own film). Tarantino filmed Castellari as a general in the cinema pointing out the burning screen, but the scene did not make the theatrical cut.
  • When Major Hellstrom reasons out that his card says King Kong, he is giving Quentin Tarantino’s analysis of the movie as an allegory of the American slave trade. He explained this analysis in an interview on NPR with Terry Gross.
  • At the movie premiere, Josef Goebbels introduces Frederick Zoller to Emil Jannings (played by Hilmar Eichhorn), whom Goebbels calls “the world’s greatest actor.” Emil Jannings was a German-born star of silent movies. During the 1920′s, he starred in several silent classics of German cinema directed by F.W. Murnau, including The Last Laugh and Faust. In 1927, Jannings moved to Hollywood to star in American movies. In 1928, he became the very first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor (and the first person to ever receive an Academy Award) for his work in The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. But his Hollywood career ended when talkies came in, as Jannings’ thick German accent made him difficult to understand. Jannings returned to Germany, where he co-starred with Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel. During the Third Reich era, Jannings starred in numerous films intended to promote Nazism, including Der Herrscher, Uncle Kruger, and The Dismissal. Minister of Propoaganda Joseph Goebbels named Jannings as “Artist of the State.” (In “Inglourious Basterds,” Goebbels has Jannings show Zoller the ring given for this award, which Goebbels calls “the highest artistic honor that I give.”) After the war, Jannings’ film career was ended due to his association with the Nazis. He retired to a farm in Austria, where he died in 1950.
  • Before Donnie Donowitz appears from under the bridge, he taps the bat against the walls of the tunnel a total of 28 times.
  • Names on the cards from the game played in the bar include: Winnetou, Genghis Khan, Mata Hari, Beethoven, Pola Negri, Edgar Wallace, GW Pabst, King Kong, Marco Polo, Brigitte Horney and Brigitte Helm.
  • In a round table discussion with Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino; Tarantino said that Til Schweiger, being an actor born and raised in Germany, had always refused to put on a Nazi uniform for a film role. The only reason he agreed to for this film was because he got to kill Nazis.
  • In ‘Quentin Tarantino’s Universe’, the character of Lt. Aldo Raine is Floyd’s – aka The pothead on the couch from True Romance – great grandfather.
  • The French village of Nadine depicted in the film doesn’t really exist. However, on the map shown to Lt. Hicox, its location largely corresponds to the real-life town of Nanteuil-le-Haudouin. Moreover, the word “Haudouin” is still visible on the map, suggesting that it was accidentally left there, while the first part of the town name has been removed and replaced by “Nadine”.
  • Although Quentin Tarantino wanted the film to be shown exclusively in 35mm, it ended up being shown in some digital locations.

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Richi
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