Remake of “Basterds” needed.

Weird, isn't it? "Inglorious Basterds"
premiering at The Cannes Film Festival.

I am going to rant, but first let me say that I really like the idea of a furious, wild and historically untrue screen revenge bestowed upon the Nazis. The pain and the horror they caused are around us forever. We have to process it and there must be more than one way to do it. The over the top, cartoonish style could be certainly one manner of dealing with the issue. If done right, that is.

Most of the time however, regardless of style and subject, things are not done right. We consume half baked goods and get high on sour wine. Being as starved as we are justifies our devouring of those clumsily prepared dishes we call films. Yet it does not justify sloppiness and haste of their cooks. Aren’t the entries most often deep fried and over-sugared? This fast food for human psyche clogs up arteries of our dignity, freedom and advancement. Yes, it’s that serious.

Let’s take a recent example of the obviously tired and absent minded cook (Quentin Tarantino), who previously delighted us with the most wonderful and innovate dishes. This time working with a promising recipe, he clearly allowed it to undercook. As a result we got a good looking thing with mostly uneatable interior.

Before we move to the style: there is the whole discussion about “ethical dilemma” of violence in the film. This astounds me. Do you cafe late drinkers really debate if that’s okay to cheer fictitious killings of the Nazis? Am I hearing it right? We are talking the killing in which Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, their whores, flunkies, the entire entourage perish. The war ends sooner. Yet, you feel “uneasy”? You feel that’s “not morally right” to equate the Nazis’ cheering their soldier/actor killing our people on screen with us cheering when our people massacre on screen the Nazis. Are you serious? Would you like me to teleport you back in time?

Yes, let's the motherfuckers die. In reality and in our collective psyche. Let’s cheer these killings. Perhaps doing so will offer some consolation. Thanks Quentin for that.

It’s just that there is something missing in the delivery. What could have been inspired and cathartic appears juvenile, rushed, superficial. With not enough fire. Not enough balls. The entire story is with not enough heart. Another luck warm dish pretending to be something else. We eat it up because there is nothing else in this category. That’s why I am postulating an instant remake.

Here is my dream set up for such a production: The script stays as originally written, not as presented on screen. The script's second chapter based on flashbacks is an audacious formal experiment. Little of it remains on screen. What has happened? Also what has happened to Donny Donowitz before the war scenes? They were great. They and other omissions (like the speech of Landa that Shosanna could become “a president of the United States”) on paper nicely punched up craziness, and - in case of Donny Donowitz provided more passion and heart. More character. How come the most interesting characters in this flick belong to the Germans? Something is not right.

To ensue that the film has a soul, I would ask Edward Zwick and Pieter Jan Brugge of “Defiance” to produce. (Contrary to many, I think that the “Defiance” is a great film. It gives a solid emotional and cleansing ride, which is missing in “Basterds.”) Directing should go to Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor of “Crank: Hight Voltage.” This wonderful and absolutely insane flick has all the kicks, fury, preposterousness and aliveness needed to make the "Basterds" script truly rise. (Yes, I am aware of the aesthetic differences between the restrain of the QT style, and the madness of "Crank". Yet, a blend of the two is is possible, energy is transferable.)

Just for the record: otherwise I am a big fan of Tarantino. I am writing this the day after I finished conducting a filmmaking workshop which ended with “Pulp Fiction,” in my book one of the best films ever.


  1. A great post, Paweł, even though I couldn't disagree more. "Let the motherfuckers die!"...? I'm sorry, but with that one sentence you send a great deal of great war thought down the drain. If anything allowed the Allied forces to win the war, it was a strong faith in their moral (not racial, not national) superiority over the Nazis. That very integrity over which their noble rhetoric was based on crumbled tragically after Hiroshima, of course, but still - it was the belief that we shouldn't become like Nazis in our thinking that fueled many people to give their lives for free Europe (and a free world).

    Still, I respect your opinion about the movie, especially since it's put in beautiful English. I don't agree the BASTERDS are lifeless, though: I found a lot of panache in it. But it's fascinating to see you applauding CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE; your words made me think of a short praise I read of it, by one Armond White of "New York Press":


    I think what you miss in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is the very aesthetic anarchy and avant-garde approach Tarantino wanted to avoid: this is his most "classical" film to day, and yet there are small distortions in it, ones that are truly insane come to think of it, and should satiate your need for something "explosive" (think of that music-video-like intro of the revenge sequence, with Shossana applying make-up in front of the mirror; it's hypnotic!).

    By the way, I recommend J.Hoberman's great review in "The Village Voice":


    Keep doing the good job, Paweł, looking forward to more of your posts!

  2. Michał you’re right. I don’t get the essence of what QT is attempting to do. I can understand his approach, which obviously is based on “coolness” and restrain. It just doesn’t do much for me in this particular case. (Maybe it’s the subject matter that does not allow me to relax and just go with the flow of this, well... entertainment.) Of course I value and enjoy those moments where I am able to grasp what’s coming to me from the screen. In this respect, the make up scene is indeed strong, so is the clandestine gone bad cafe meeting and a few other moments. Plus at times a truly brilliant dialog. Yes, the Sergio Leone like opening is great. I would love to see the rest of the film (or at least a large portion of it) sustaining such cleverness and stylistic elegance.

    Even though we differ in the ethical perspective on revenge, I appreciate your stand. To me such dialog unavoidably ends up with “what would I do” question. That one each has to answer separately but a conversation helps. It’s good to be able to talk such issues through.