- Another major feather in Tarantino’s cap
- There’s so much to praise here, the Leone-esque Chapter 1, the trademark dialogue, but chief amongst them is the cinema as metaphor reading of the film—there’s so much to unpack here—cinema, more than any other QT film—is a character in the film, the final set piece, a propaganda machine, and our characters here are film stars (Diane Kruger), owners of a theater (Melanie Laurent), and even film scholars (Michael Fassbender)
- There are mentions of GW Pabst in the text among others—we hit close to Lubitsch’s To Be or Not To Be in narrative and some of the “Basterds” sections borrow from many B-movies and Aldrich’s Dirty Dozen – but I think the main cinematic influence here is clearly Leone—the Chapter 1 section- “Once Upon a Time…” and we start on a picturesque farm. The film has heavy doses of Morricone throughout as well
- The cast is fantastic—leading the way is the very deserving Oscar-winning performance from Christoph Waltz—it’s such a natural fit for Tarantino’s writing—the emphasis on the particularities of speech and diction. Beyond the speech and dialogue it’s such a richly detailed character. In the opening there’s the meticulous way he sets up his paper with pen and ink, his politeness and the ordering of milk
- Ensemble includes an upcoming Michael Fassbender, a small performance in the opening by Lea Seydoux
- There are times when I adore Tarantino taking his time with each scene—for example, in Chapter 1 I love the rat-comparison story— but we also get 2 minutes on the 3-4 questions about the ages of the hidden Jewish children we’ll never meet in the narrative.
- Not quite the level of beauty of a similar shot in Kill Bill but there’s a great doorway shot in Chapter 1 (which plays out like an incredible 20 minute short film)
- Pitt is perfect here- he’s not always as comfortable as the leading man. He has leading man looks of course but he’s almost always better like he is here, or 12 Monkeys or even Jesse James when he gets to play the scene-stealing character actor. His diction is as detailed (yes, more cartoonish, animated and exaggerated) as Waltz’s—he says “D-stroyed”—pushing that chin out
- The voice-over from Samuel L Jackson is unfortunate—bad form and unnecessary—uneven—he introduces one of the “Basterds” but not the others, he helps us out later with context but not consistently
- Low-angle Trunk shot twice (a nice formal set up) carving the swastikas including the brilliant “Masterpiece” ending—truly well-done
- In Chapter 3 Tarantino gives us a date, he doesn’t before or after
- She’s overshadowed by the dazzling Waltz and louder (and funnier) Pitt—but Melanie Laurent gives a very strong non-verbal performance here
- The violent vengeance orgy action scene has become trademark—it happens in Kill Bill, Django– allows Tarantino to hit the action checkbox while relishing his long-winded (and wonderful) dialogue and penchant for set pieces for the majority of the running time
- This is description– not an insult or evaluation, because I love Linklater, but we have long Linklater-like “Before trilogy”- dialogue stretches. Pages and pages of sitting at tables talking- a first for a Tarantino films which have always been very verbal
- Just like Django I do understand Morricone’s issues with QT’s eclectic music choices- makes for an inconsistent work formally at times as we go from David Bowie back to Morricone for themes— reminded me of Kill Bill’s “About Her” garbage remix by Malcolm McLaren
- I was in awe of that shot in the circle window of Laurent- it’s phenomenal photography and the ensuing montage (to the Bowie song) as she puts on makeup as war paint
- Like the restaurant in Kill Bill we get a magnificent large set piece for our action – here the theater is that set piece and Tarantino indulges us with some swift tracking shots up the stairs—quickly hits us with the De Palma (from Hitchcock) 360-shot of Kruger and Waltz talking
- A Must-See film
Didn’t you have Inglourious Basterds a MP ? What made you drop it ? I saw it again last night and I think it’s a big masterpiece. Head to head with Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood for Tarantino’s 2nd best film.
@Cinephile– it is undoubtedly a brilliant film- but yeah- I’ll be moving other films ahead of it from the 2000’s from Y Tu Mama Tambien to The White Ribbon.
Inglourious Basterds is not just a masterpiece. It is the sort of masterpiece to which many other masterpieces pale by comparison.
@Matt Harris– Yep, I’ll have to agree. The last time I did the 2000s list I had it at #6. I remember you had it very high in your list, if you had to justify your ranking, what would be your praise towards the film ? Last night I was blown away (more than any other time I’ve watched it) by the artistic quality showcased.
I’ve gone over this ad nauseum with Drake over the years, but for your benefit (and anyone else who cares), I’ll give the much-abridged version of it here.
First, it features one of the greatest screenplays ever written, a multi-lingual tapestry of brilliant prose and even more brilliant philosophy and storytelling. On the level of craftsmanship from one word to the next, one line to the next, it is immaculate. On the level of scene construction, it is bold, audacious, and brilliant. And then on the level of themes and subtext it is as rich a filmic text as exists in the medium (admittedly this isn’t entirely the accomplished by the script, but also the extraordinary visual design).
Second, it was as of 2009, Tarantino’s most visually accomplished work. Kill Bill’s aesthetic of acquisition was more brazenly stylistic, and Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown are punctuated by moments of transcendent brilliance, but frame for frame, composition for composition, shot for shot, Inglourious was simply a new frontier for Tarantino. He professed the importance of von Sternberg to how he staged and shot scenes in Inglourious, and that comparison is very evident, as the visual splendour simply leaps off the screen.
Thirdly, it features the single best performance in Tarantino, and one of the singular performances of the 21st century in Christoph Waltz’s Hanz Landa. And yet he doesn’t blow everyone else out of the water because it is a top to bottom, near-perfectly cast and performed work. Pitt, Laurent, and Fassbender (albeit in limited minutes) are also highlights.
I can go (and have gone) into much more detail as I studied this film extensively for my M.A (and returned to it briefly in my PhD), but those are the broad strokes at least.
@Matt Harris– Very well said! Agree 100% on everything, kudos!
@Cinephile– Thanks for sharing. Can you expand on the “artistic quality showcased” here a little? One thing that struck me when watching it was how much of the film was shot as shot/reverse shot dialogue.
@Drake— I think it’s formally impressive with the chapter breaks, the first chapter and how it sets the revenge story, the famous Tarantino “trunk” shot, the way the Basterds are build etc.
I think it features genius level narrative, storytelling and writing.
But the most important factor for me is the aesthetic. The production design is awe-inspiring, the mise-en-scene is also superb, from the composition mastery to the use of color. I think the set-pieces are some of the strongest in recent cinema, especially the theater finale which in my opinion stands with some of the strongest ever.
I think when a film is so accomplished at form, narrative, writing, acting (I must add) and most important of all, visual style, then we have clearly, at least in my estimation, one of the huge cinematic achievements of the 2000s decade.
thank you both for sharing. I don’t disagree on the writing and acting— and I know it’s hard and we’re splitting hairs talking about masterpieces and must-see films– but the formal achievements here are dwarfed by Y Tu Mama Tambien and White Ribbon— the visuals easily surpassed by say Jesse James and Kill Bill… this film belongs nearer the spot as the 30th best film of the decade or so— certainly no insult.
I will respectively disagree on all four counts.
@Matt Harris, @Drake, @Cinephile:
I believe all of you are correct.
All the points you all make are very valid.
I agree with Drake when he talks about ‘bad form’ in the movie(involving Samuel Jackson). I also agree with Drake when he says there are scenes that drag.(“we also get 2 minutes on the 3-4 questions about the ages of the hidden Jewish children we’ll never meet in the narrative.”).
Matt, You made some excellent points too. I agree with all three of your points.
Overall I don’t think this is ” a MP to which other MPs pale by comparison” (that would make it a top 100 movie of all time) neither is this a simple MS. I’d have it as a MS/MP.
I believe Pitt(Tree of Life, Se7en), Samuel L Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Do the Right Thing) and Tarantino (Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs) have made at least 2 other movies that are clearly better.
I’d have it as a MS/MP. Though if you’d have it as a massive MP or a MS I wouldn’t argue with your opinion either. The movie has some brilliant moments.
All 3 of you make great points about the movie that I agree with.
@Matt Harris, @Cinephile What are your top 3 favorite Tarantino movies? Would you include Bastards on the list?
1. Pulp Fiction
2 + 3. Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood & Inglourious Basterds (probably tied)
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
I have the top two essentially tied, and in time the third may well make that a three-way. I love all.of Tarantino’s films other than Death Proof (which I still like) and The Hateful Eight (which I owe further attention), but these three are the cream.of the crop, I’m quite certain.
Great lists @Cinephile and @Matt Harris.
What do both of you think of Reservoir Dogs?
TSPDT have 2 Tarantino movies in MP territory. Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. I tend to agree.
For Tarantino, I think Pulp Fiction may just be his masterpiece. It’s his magnum ops. For number 2 I’d have reservoir Dogs.
@Drake, what is your updated top 3 Tarantino movies? I saw your reservoir dogs page and you ranked the movie as a MP/MS. Does this mean you have it above Inglorious Bastards now?
@Azman– I love Reservoir Dogs and I think I’d agree with Drake on the MS/MP rating, but it’s not in my top 5 of Tarantino. That’s a compliment to how strong is Tarantino’s filmography rather than an indication of Reservoir Dogs quality. I studied him once again during quarantine and from what I see I value Tarantino more than Drake does because I have Django and Inglourious as masterpieces and im quite certain that Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood (which Drake has a MP) is one of the truly “Big” achievements of the 2010s.
Doesn’t Django seem too repetitive to you?
I also don’t think Reservoir Dogs is his second best, but it may be due to how disappointed he was after seeing Pulp fiction first
@Aldo– Nope, I didn’t find it repetitive at all.
Reservoir Dogs is terrific. I’d probably rate it an MS, but like @cinephile I would not have it in my top 5. After the top 3 I listed above, I’d have Django, Jackie Brown, and Kill Bill all in the MS/MP to MP range, and then I’d have Reservoir Dogs 7th.
in my opinion all his films are flawed but inglorious basterds is definitely his masterpiece. its pulpy, funny, and a hell of a watch. kill bill the first only is also great (but certainly pales next to 2003’s other big blockbuster return of the king) and pulp fiction is in my opinion overrated but there is still much to like about the movie. i feel like there could have been a whole movie about bruce willis character and i don’t think that he has ever improved visually from this (perhaps in kill bill 1). it is also a good moral warning and if you believe in Christ like i do than perhaps the religious aspects of the film stand out more. plus, hes no billy wilder but the dialogue is mostly hooking. ill also say that i once enjoyed the inane and cruel hateful eight, and considered it my favorite for it unique and almost theatrical but that sadistic scene with sam jackson and a certain son of a soldier ruined the film in retrospect. i know that bruce derns son was by no means a hero but that was just plain sadistic and its scary no one ever wrote an open letter to tarantino sugesting he see a therapist for dreaming up such a thing. the gimmp scene too. maybe if he didn’t disdain john ford, he’d be better, and understand better the fact that people from different backgrounds can come to love and accept each other (in great films such as the searchers and liberty valance).
Clearly you @m don’t like Tarantino and that’s fine, Bergman didn’t like many talented filmmakers, actually the third part is the worst of the three, kill bill vol. 1 is better. Overrated in what? Do you think there is any other better movie in 1994? Do you think there is any other better movie in 1994? It may be a bit overrated among casual fans, but there are much more overrated movies, like a certain movie from the same year.
When Drake updates his ranking it includes all of Tarantino’s movies he gets ahead of Wilder as director, so i don’t see the point here.
haahaha- interesting comment here…
@m. Wow. I disagree with everything you’ve said. You are entitled to your opinion but you stated your opinion as if it was a fact. I dont believe in Christ but I still seen Pulp twice and I love it.
I agree with all of Tarantino movies being flawed. No movie is flawless. However, these flaws are extremely minuscule and pale in comparison to the sheer brilliance present in Tarantino movies.
He isn’t sadistic like you say.
Also,his dialogue may actually compare to Wilder’s.
You mention that an entire movie could me made with Butch in Pulp Fiction. What does that mean? The movie has terrific characters and side characters and Butch was a great character.
Tarantino includes a wide variety of characters from different racial backgrounds who get along with each other.
He didn’t “disdain” John Ford. If anything, the character of Ethan Edwards is extremely racist in the searchers.
@M could you expand on all the points you make and provide a detailed reasoning as to why you consider Tarantino overrated?
azman thank you for your comment. first i want to say i dont dislike tarantino. he is a great director. i just think there are better. and i remember seeing him say how he hates john ford. i also wasn’t saying that nonreligious people would not like pulp fiction, just that the religious aspects might stand out a bit more. also, i think wilder exchanges like the ending to some like it hot with the ‘nobody’s perfect’ or the ‘shut up and deal’ are better than tarantino’s very best dialogue (probably the ending of pulp fiction or the brad pitt christoph waltz speech). also as far as 1994 goes, i think forrest gump is better. i know there is some oscar bait and all but i think the acting and the way zemeckis mixes welds historical events such as vietnam and meeting President nixon is masterful, and the cgi is revolutionary. as far as ford goes, i remember seeing an interview where tarantino says how he hates him for his racist portrayal of native americans (killing them like faceless zombies) and his anglo saxon seeming superriority. and with the searchers, i think that is the point. i’ve seen that film three times and like it more each time. ethan is supposed to be a jerk, and hates native americans, kind of the way jj gittes hates chineese. but it doesn’t mean john ford hates them, he was challenging these supposed ideals and showing how dangerous they are. ethan’s prejudice almost caused him to kill his own niece because she was integrated with the native americans.
pulp fiction is very good and there are really no flaws visually but i do have a problem with the gimp scene. i think that is unnecesarty and cruel. i dont think it would be overrated except for the fact that some people, including some good friends of mine, hail it as one of the best films ever made.
i think hateful eight would be a masterpiece even if not for the bruce dern scene. i thought it started off good, with the two men who hate each other sitting down because they shared a battlefield once. obviously its tarantin and he’s known for revenge, but i wish he didn’t have sam jackson practically rae the son and have that as a big joke. it was pathetic and i’d say that if anything is cruel in recent cinema. that is.
and as for kill bill 1, i felt bored watching volume 2. i like the superman monolugue and the whole aspect of michael madsen’s character facing his past sins, but i didn’t find the rest interesting. the first is a great film because of in part the music but also the fight choreography and visuals. the blue sillouhette during the fight and the sunsets, this is a beautfiul film. i don’t think uma thurmann is a great actress, but she is good in this as the vengeful action hero.
i hope that all this helps you understand a bit more my point of view on it all. oh yeah, and as for bitch, i like all the characters, but i think he is the coolest and there would have been a cool semiarthouse action film with bruce willis out of that. maybe even include ving rhames or travolta in the film.
Well, it is wrong, the best movie of 1994 is Pulp Fiction, visit TSPDT if you do not believe in the ranking of Drake, it is in 72 and Forrest Gump in 519, and it is one of the best movies made, it is very difficult to enter the top 100
sorrythis is for @aldo as well.
Very Very interesting page as there are strong opinions over the grading. Just watched last night (viewing # 5 or 6) and I think it’s evident that a lot of the grading disputes simply come down to what people value in a film.
Thus, disputes arise not so much over disagreements over the quality of particular elements of cinema but rather over the weighting that each individual person gives to certain elements of film in general. Similar to a thread in the 500 Best Films of All Time when I brought up that I thought Chinatown should be higher than #96 as I consider it to be a perfect film. Drake and a few others pointed out that the basis for some other “less perfect” films being ranked higher than Chinatown was due to some of these films having more “artistic ambition”. Drake seems to put a lot of emphasis on film form, camera work, and Mise-en-scène. Similar logic would seem to apply to disputes over the grading of Inglorious as well. I consider Inglorious to be a flat-out Masterpiece that improves with each subsequent viewing. I probably put more value in screenwriting, acting, and dialogue than some people. I don’t put as much value in film form (mainly due to me not fully understanding it.. lol.. but I am learning as I go).
I found the multilingual aspect of the film incredibly impressive, just in the way characters switched languages in many scenes in ways that added great suspense. I can’t think of many films that have used this so successfully. Obviously, Tarantino’s writing and dialogue is an area where he has a legitimate claim as being one of the best ever. But even by Tarantino standards this film stands out, the opening interrogation scene, the card game, Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt going toe to toe. Just great stuff and speaking of Christoph Waltz, Hans Landa is probably Tarantino’s greatest character after Jules Winnfield and Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo.
My only real complaint and it’s minor one is I thought it could have been trimmed down a little, maybe like 10 minutes or so. The dialogue is phenomenal but there probably is a little that could have been taken out to improve the flow of the narrative which slows a little bit a few times. Aside from that though I wouldn’t change a thing. Tarantino’s ability to blend history with his creations of characters and narrative is truly special.
The argument for mise-en-scene, editing, camerawork etc comes back to what exactly makes something cinematic. It’s hard to make an argument for huge masterpieces like 2001: A Space Odyssey that its dialogue and performances are far above everything else in cinema history. But it is a visual art form – you can combine these visual elements and have a film, but if something only excels in dialogue and performances it might as well be a theatre play. Those are certainly important as well and worth considering, but if a great film is minimalistic in those areas it would be unfair to knock it for that.
Learning about form has been gradual but I understand it a lot more than I used to. You can have a collection of the most dazzling stylistic techniques, but if they don’t tie together then it would be hard to argue that it is a great, cohesive work of art. Sometimes the form is in the narrative and writing, but it can easily be in visual and musical motifs as well.
@Declan – good points, I was not trying to downplay the importance of mise-en-scene, editing, camerawork or saying that I only care about acting, screenplay, dialogue, etc. Just pointing out that people watch films for different reasons and put varying degrees of emphasize on different elements. The more I watch the more emphasis I am putting on mise-en-scene, editing, form, etc. as I am learning more about them.
[…] Inglourious Basterds – Tarantino […]
So I rewatched this film again recently as part of a short Tarantino bender with Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Django Unchained as I had never even seen Kill Bill and had not watched those other three Tarantino movies since 2018-2019. I’ve gotta say, as someone who used to worship at the altar of this film, and still has a lot of respect for it nonetheless… I was a little let down, there’s still a lot of good here but it’s not as amazing as I once thought it to be.
So first off I kind of have to mention one great formal sin that Tarantino committed that isn’t mentioned above, which is Shoshanna speaking English. At the beginning of the film, in the famed prologue to the film with Landa interrogating Mr. LaPadite about the whereabouts of Shoshanna’s family, Tarantino anchors the entire sequence on the idea that the family does not speak English, whereas LaPadite does, and so he is able to tell LaPadite that he is going to kill the family under the floorboards without them knowing as they will not be able to understand what he is saying. At the end of the film, Tarantino seems to forget this completely as in the ending monologue in the theater before Shoshanna sets all the Nazis inside on fire, she tells them about how they are all going to die at the hands of a Jew… in English, even though Tarantino had already established at the beginning that she does not speak it. These scenes are easily available for viewing with a quick YouTube search, so it won’t take any time at all for anyone who reads this to see I’m right, and I’m sure you could say she learned English over the 3 years between the prologue and the rest of the film from showing English-language Hollywood films from before 1940 at her theater… but Tarantino never actually shows her doing anything like that so it’s hard to make an argument when there’s no evidence for it.
Other elements formally also don’t really work, like the random Samuel L. Jackson voiceover that appears once at around 30 minutes into the film during Hugo Stiglitz’s introduction… which is actually a fine use of the voiceover in isolation, I love the buildup to Stiglitz’s character joining the Basterds in this scene, but bad overall because there’s only one other time we actually hear Jackson’s voice in the entire movie… and that one other time comes at about an hour into the film as we get this really baffling explanation of the fact that nitrate film burns faster than paper which is totally tangential to the film in terms of tone, this isn’t really an intellectual film aside from elements of Landa’s character and like I said, this is one of only two times in the entire film that Jackson speaks at all and after this point there is an entire hour and a half leading up to the end of the film in which he never speaks, that means his voice is completely missing for the next 2/3rds of the film after this and it doesn’t come back ever. There’s also very little value to him telling us about the SPEED AT WHICH NITRATE FILM BURNS of all things since all that matters is whether it burns and Tarantino establishes later on in the film that the doors into the theater were locked, meaning the Nazis wouldn’t be able to escape the flames so whether they move quickly or slowly through the theater is unimportant, so throw all that together with the bad form as a whole with the voiceover and that both of the voiceover moments seem more as unconnected little thoughts in Tarantino’s mind (there are only two of these and even still they don’t relate to eachother at all, they’re both talking about two completely unrelated topics from opposite parts of the movie instead of both from the Basterds’ side or both from Laurent’s side) instead of part of the grand design of the Basterds’ plot and you just have something that should have been cut out completely.
Of course, there are nice formal elements like when Kruger leaves the napkin she signed for that one soldier in the bar and then Waltz finds it while he’s investigating and that leads him to realize that Kruger is part of the Basterds’ plot at the theater, as well as Tarantino throwing in the one trunk shot early to mirror the “I think this might just be my masterpiece” line which is an ending that just knocks me on my ass and makes it so hard to have to condemn all the other things that Tarantino does wrong here. I also love the scene in the cafe where Bruehl sees Laurent for the second time, goes in, she ignores him, and then all of a sudden she notices him, a private, get saluted by an officer and suddenly is trying to figure out who he is, that’s one hell of a way to show us Bruehl is not who he seems by showing him get saluted by an officer.
Now, for anyone who doesn’t value form and wants to talk about the film’s great style… there are actually a lot of stretches here that aren’t really amazing stylistically including the iconic bar scene, which while I used to love wholeheartedly I was faced after this viewing with the fact that it’s nearly 20-25 minutes almost entirely of very uncinematic medium shots that really make it seem like Tarantino didn’t write the scene while considering how he planned to direct it beforehand since we all know from the visuals in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill that Tarantino can be a very inspired visual director so I’m not sure why this scene is so plain compared to those films. That’s not to say there are no great scenes in the film, near the start when you have the first scalping scene with the Basterds ambushing the German patrol Tarantino does some great crosscutting between Hitler speaking to the German soldier who got the Swastika marked on his forehead and Brad Pitt as he’s getting to put the Swastika on the forehead, accompanied by some whip pans as Brad Pitt is interrogating the soldier so he will point out where the location of another nearby German patrol is, there’s the shot down the dark sewer as Roth the great Bear-Jew (love this character and name) emerges and then has the “You get that for killing Jews?” “Bravery” dialogue exchange with the captured NCO, there’s the montage as Laurent gets the theater prepared for the fire trap as “Cat People” by David Bowie plays as Drake mentions above (which is also strong formally as much like Simone Simon in the original Cat People, I haven’t seen the remake, Laurent is hiding something about her identity from the Germans), the crane shot through the theater as all of the Germans are assembled and then the 360 shot that Tarantino goes loops around twice instead of once as Waltz meets Kruger and her “Italian friends” which I actually think could be a nod to Fassbinder instead of De Palma as Fassbinder used the 360 shot all the time as well and there are other references to Fassbinder’s films Veronika Voss (reportedly Laurent’s red outfit with the veil at the end is based on Veronika Voss’s appearance) and Lili Marleen (actually not one of the Fassbinders I’ve seen but reportedly it inspired elements of Kruger’s Bridget von Hammersmarck), the God’s eye shot with the slowmo inside the projector room as Laurent and Bruehl kill eachother as Morricone powers over the speakers, and the interior shots inside the SOE room of operations with Michael Fassbender being informed of his mission by Mike Myers and Winston Churchill are some of the best frames in the entire film, there’s a lot to admire on display in the film even if as you learn more and more about cinema over time you have to admit there are flaws.
Tarantino intelligently centers the whole bit with Kruger getting shot in the leg at the bar to have a foot fetish scene with Landa putting the shoe on her to see if it fits; though it is worth nothing that most of our characters are male so there aren’t nearly as many feet shots in the film as Kill Bill or something.
I’m kind of running out of things to say, the film is very funny, lots of great lines including a few underrated ones like Brad Pitt’s “Fighting in a basement offers a lot of difficulties, number one being you’re fighting in a basement” when he meets Fassbender before the bar scene, there’s the bit after Eli Roth kills the NCO where he goes off pretending to be an umpire presiding over a baseball game, there’s a lot of Tarantino’s most clever lines here. Fassbender’s “go out speaking the King’s” line after he gets discovered while speaking German in an English accent before throwing up the wrong finger sign is very good too.
Funnily enough this wasn’t the first movie Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger starred in together; I think we all know what that other film was
I know it may seem like I’m giving up the good fight, but trust me, the war is over, I love Inglourious Basterds but I have to say that I do not think it is a masterpiece, at least not right now, formally it has too many downs even when you consider the very high ups (like the trunk shot as Pitt turns the tables on Waltz; amazing) and stylistically for a nearly 3 hour movie there are a lot of scenes that have a distinct lack of visual investment from Tarantino despite the many great parts of the film that don’t. It is a very great film but not as perfect as Pulp Fiction or Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood.
@Zane – interesting thoughts
I did a Tarantino study recently and ranked the films like this:
# 1 Pulp Fiction
# 2 Kill Bill (I view as one film)
# 3 Inglorious Basterds
# 4 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
# 5 Reservoir Dogs
# 6 Jackie Brown
# 7 Django Unchained
# 8 The Hateful Eight
# 9 Death Proof
As you can see I have Inglourius at # 3 although admittingly I had a tough time ranking # 3 to # 6.
I came across this article which breaks down the film’s opening scene which is 15-20 min of conversation but that does not necessarily mean that it should be viewed as completely uncinematic.
A few points made in the article; in the opening scene the camera uses a medium shot of the farmer and then his daughters in the corner of the room, when the camera returns to Landa its with a low angle shot. Yes. the opening scene like much of the movie uses long conversations but the tension builds up in a palpable manner as Landa starts to drop the friendly guy act and becomes increasingly menacing. There are closeups on Landa’s face and the farmer’s face right before the attack begins showing the mindsets of these characters, Landa intention on killing the Jews and the farmer looking defeated.