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Fridge / Inglourious Basterds

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As a Fridge subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

Fridge Brilliance

  • When Donny Donowitz beats a German soldier to death with a baseball bat, the image is reminiscent of the scene in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, where a primitive hominid beats to death a hominid from a rival tribe with a bone. The scene in Kubrick's film is scored to Richard Strauss’s composition Thus Spake Zarathustra, which is based on the book of the same name by German philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche's book describes the rise of the “super man” in human affairs, a concept that is reflected in Kubrick's film through the depiction of the early "human" learning to dominate others through superior intellect and will. Nietzsche’s book had been adopted as a key philosophical text by the National Socialist party in Germany, who interpreted it as addressing the superiority of the German/Aryan races and their capacity to dominate other, inferior, races of Europe, including the Jews. Therefore, the image of a Jewish-American soldier beating down a German soldier appropriates Kubrick's image to create a highly ironic reversal of the "Nazi" interpretation of Nietzsche’s text (the real Nietzsche would have approved any reversal, since he loathed antisemitism and German nationalism-the Nazi use of his work would have outraged him).
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  • When the Nazis are killed, it is during a violent propaganda movie in which a war hero slaughters hundreds of Allied troops, which invokes cheering from the Nazis. This is eventually paralleled by two Allied war heroes mowing down Nazis, which would certainly involve lots of cheering from the actual film's audience.
  • Hans Landa's dissertation on "what Jews will to do survive" is a monologue on his internal ethics. He has been shown, repeatedly and in horrifically suspenseful drawn-out detail, that he is more than willing to say and do anything as long as it benefits him. And if there is no immediately obvious long-term benefit, then he merely plays along until such time as he can make use of it.
  • Landa's smug invocation of "if the shoe fits you must wear it" foreshadows his own fate. He's forced to wear a swastika cut into his forehead. He betrayed the Nazis, but the metaphorical shoe fits, and fits well.
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  • Landa does not, in fact, strangle Bridget von Hammersmark for treason. He strangles her because he was already planning to defect and let the Basterds kill Hitler—and already planned to cast himself in the role of the planner and hero. The role that Bridget herself had, in fact, occupied. He killed her so that she wouldn't be able to take the credit or expose that he wasn't really the mole in the Third Reich.
  • The film has a theme of the power of cinema. The Nazis are repeatedly shown to be obsessed with cinema, spreading their rhetoric through films. Frederick is attracted to Shosanna after spotting her at her cinema. It's a new propaganda film that brings all the Nazis together into one room. The physical material of cinema is used to kill the Nazi high command. Even Shosanna's death is indirectly caused by the power of cinema: After shooting Frederick, Shosanna watches his performance in Nation's Pride and is visibly moved to pity him. When he begins to stir, she takes one last glance at the movie screen before going to his side and subsequently getting shot.
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  • Early in the film, Hicox states that one of his two books is on the works of German film director G.W. Pabst. When Hellstrom questions him about his origins, he references The White Hell of Piz Palu, a film co-directed by Pabst. Later, Hellstrom forces him and the Basterds to play a celebrity card game, and Hicox writes down G.W. Pabst's name. Pabst's film is also referenced by Shosanna and Zoller outside Shosanna's theater.
  • The Basterds impersonating Italians at the Nation's Pride premiere makes allot of sense, aside from von Hammersmark's assertion that Germans probably won't speak Italian. In his Rousing Speech to the squad, Lt. Raine mentions "fighting through half of Sicily", implying the troops served in the Sicilian campaign of World War II (part of the larger Italian campaign, which was still ongoing during the Normandy Invasion). As a field officer, Lt. Raine would have been required to study Italian to communicate with the locals, explaining why he's the most fluent (horrible accent not withstanding) of the Basterds. Donowitz, a senior NCO, is the second best. And Omar, an enlisted private, didn't bother to learn any Italian (hence, the third best).

Fridge Horror

  • The Holocaust is happening at the same time as the events in this film. Even if Hitler gets killed early to create an Alternate Universe, millions of people still died and for all their bravado, the Basterds are too late to actually save those lives. There's also no guarantee that Hitler's death would stop the killings yet to come.
  • Those medals Donny wears around his neck in his introduction scene are German dogtags. He's presumably beating people to the point they're no longer recognizable, and taking the dogtags as trophies — he's intentionally depriving their families of a funeral, and his kills of a proper burial. This would be particularly cruel in the eyes of a religious Jew, as Judaism emphasizes giving the dead a proper burial as soon as possible.

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