Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inglorious Basterds versus...

Being a little behind the times, I finally took the opportunity to watch Quentin Tarantino's WWII fantasy movie Inglorious Basterds. And I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In a lot of ways it expressed the same frustrations and aspirations of the early comic book heroes like Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Captain America, who in Captain America #1, was depicted as punching out Hitler.
A similar story is recounted in the novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.
However I was stuck wrestling with some conflicting emotions, for though I enjoyed the fantasy created by Quentin Tarantino, I was equally troubled by some of the depictions in movies like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I was left wrestling with the idea of why one type of Holocaust fiction would bother me so much, while the other entertained the heck out of me.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized why. Movies like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and A Beautiful Life, though fictional are grounded the reality of the Holocaust. They are trying to tell of true experiences, but through the eyes of fictional characters. And in order to do this, they both rely upon situations that simply could not have happened.
Inglorious Basterds on the other hand, was complete fantasy, and made no pretenses otherwise. It was an homage to many of the movies Mr. Tarantino enjoyed, while at the same time was his own unique vision. It made me as a viewer question ideas like loyalty, revenge, and power.
I admit I am still wrestling with these movies and may always will, but for some reason, I think I would recommend Inglorious Basterds over the other two even with its portrayals of violence. Because it really does beg the question, what is history? Especially in a time where there are increasing voices denying the Holocaust.
Or maybe I enjoyed it simply because I grew up a comic book fan, and seeing a depiction of Jewish power on the silver screen during a time of great tragedy and horrific events, made me feel good and strong about my Jewish self. In either case, if you haven't seen it, and you are a Tarantino fan, I for one, highly recommend it.

And in case you haven't seen it, here's the cover from Captain America #1