Pastiche - storytelling about storytelling

"Inglorious Basterds",
written and directed by Quentin Tarantino

“I love rumors. Facts can be so misleading, where rumors, true or false, are often revealing.” - Col. Landa - “Inglorious Basterds”

The characters in Tarantino’s films are high on performing their own lives. They are storytellers of their own lives. They are self-aware of their own, self created NARRATIVES. That’s what makes them so cool. That’s probably why the entire planet went nuts over “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”.

Not only the characters in these stories are high on storytelling. The storyteller himself is high on his craft. More: the story is high on itself. Through its stylization, its self awareness. The story is at the same time both sincere and self-reflective. The key is “at the same time”, because any fool can write something straight and later comment on it.

In the Internet posted (leaked way too early?) script for “Inglorious Basterds” there is so much typographical and grammatical lapses that either Tarantino uses a manual typewriter, writes very fast, is a dyslexic or just plainly fucks with some future uptight reader. Probably the latter, as per (narratively justified) “basterds”. It works, judging by the number of indignant “He’s a fraud. He can’t write, he misspells!” comments. I wish I could participate in this delicious game, but with my English I have to restrain to the most general aspects of storytelling in the script.

Let’s take the 18 page long prologue. The upcoming events are foreshadow by the four stylistic elements:

The title. “Once Upon a Time in France”. A narrative aspect of what will follow can’t be spelled out more clearly.

The context. In the Nazi occupied France when a military car drives up to a farm house it most likely announces something no good. In fact, anything Nazi is no good.

The initial info (on page 2) that something is dramatically off. “After living for a year with a sword of Damocles suspended over his head, this may very well be the end.” We don’t know what’s wrong but the sentence is clear enough. Afterwards the more time is spent on pleasantries the more suspense accumulates. Pure Hitchcock.

And finally the narrative self-consciousness of the bad guy, Col. Landa, who gets off on his act and whose “acting” drives the Proloque.

The resulting pages are a great read. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I can’t wait to see the actual film.

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