So Why Do Germans Love Inglourious Basterds So Much?

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Inglourious Basterds looked like a divisive piece of historic fiction long before it was in theaters. The Jewish Holocaust revenge fantasy features a fictional troupe of Jewish-American mercenaries dropped into World War II Europe to unapologetically kill SS troopers. The film, which apparently features a scene in which a Nazi soldier is scalped, has received strong reviews and premiered at the top of the American box office. But it’s in Germany of all places where the unique film has received perhaps its most unexpected accolades.

Referred to by filmmaker Tarantino as more a homage to old-time Spaghetti Westerns than World War II epics, the deck appeared stacked against the film when it came time to crack the large German market. To start off, Basterds promotional items, many of which prominently feature swastikas and other Nazi imagery, were censored by the German government, who outlawed Nazi imagery after World War II. Last year, a copy of the film’s screenplay was leaked online, causing some German concerns at the violence in the movie, which was filmed in Germany and even partially funded by the government. But after premiering last week in Germany and 21 other countries, Germany appears to love the film in a way not seen with any other Holocaust-themed film.

With German reviews of the film calling it “historic” and “important,” concerns over the film’s violence have become a relative non-issue. “"It took 65 years for a film-maker, instead of bringing Germany's evil 20th century history to life once more to have people shudder and bow before it, to simply dream around it. And to mow all the pigs down. Catharsis! Oxygen! Wonderful retro-futuristic insanity of the imagination!" wrote Berlin’s daily Tagesspiegel.

While the country has embraced more epic, and historically-accurate, Holocaust films, particularly Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, those films forced Germany to reflect on and confront a dark past while sparking a national debate. Basterds on the other hand is pure fantasy based more on the classic Westerns of Sergio Leone than anything Spielberg ever did. That altered portrayal is now being hailed as a purely fictional romp emboldening the universal hatred towards Nazis of everyone, particularly Germans. “Unlike Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill,” Financial Times Deutschland says of Inglourious Basterds, referring to Tarantino’s previous gory masterpieces, “only the evil are massacred, the audience cheers the violent scenes with gusto.”

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Why Lil Dicky made this star-studded Earth Day music video

"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.

Culture & Religion
  • Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
  • His new music video, "Earth," features artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheehan, Kevin Hart, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Keep reading Show less

After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

Keep reading Show less

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

He was a very good boy.

Image source: Historic Environment Scotland
Surprising Science
  • A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
  • It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
  • The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Keep reading Show less