Inglourious Basterds: Analogue to Audience's Violent Nature
From Schaafwond on Reddit . This is a theory about the meaning of Inglourious Basterds I've thought up myself, but it's very possible that other people have thought of it as well. It seemed a bit obvious to me, but most people I've told about it IRL didn't think of it, so I thought I'd share.
Basically, IB shows us that we are all violent, sick creatures, and in the right circumstances, would be no better than the nazis. There is no good or evil. First, consider the actions of Aldo Raine and his men, the supposed "good guys": -They violently kill and torture their enemies and that's all they do. Their leader makes it abundantly clear: "we go there for one thing, and one thing only: killing nazi's". They don't kill for a strategic goal, or kill the few to save the many: they kill for the sake of killing. -They don't just kill people in battle: they kill and torture unarmed men and prisoners, people who've surrendered. Raine even tortured a wounded woman, who risked her life and betrayed their country to fight for HIS side, just to be sure she was telling him the truth.
Now let's consider the actions of the nazi's, the supposed "bad guys": -We see very little nazi's actually killing people. The only ones who do are Landa and his men, and the few soldiers in the restaurant scene (who had no intention to kill: they wanted to take the basterds prisoner) -The only actual non-violent act of nobility in the entire movie is performed by a German soldier, who rather dies than betrays his country. His reward is being violently and cruelly clubbed to death by the "bear jew". You could consider Shoshanna and Marcel's sacrifice noble, but it was nevertheless an act of cruel murder (burning a theatre full of people). -Hans Landa effectively tries to end world war 2 by surrendering to Raine. He doesn't care wich side wins, as long as the war ends, effectively saving thousands, if not millions of lives. We all know how he was rewarded for this by Raine.
Next, let's zoom out for a bit. Remember the way this movie was promoted? The trailer(and all the accompanying promotion material, such as the movie posters) focuses heavily on Raine and his men and their mission. We were essentially promised a movie full of flashy nazi-killing. People went to the theatres expected exactly that, while the nazi-killing scenes made up barely ten percent of the movie. Maybe you remember what effect these expectations had on the viewing experience: all those long scenes, filled with mostly nothing but dialogue, created a huge tension among the audiences, who were waiting and waiting when the movie would finally deliver the violence it promised them. On the few occasions that it did, it was usually over in a few seconds. We demanded blood, and we didn't get it, and this made us uneasy. I can't think of a better way to confront people with their own bloodlust.
But Tarantino can: remember the climax scene in the movie theatre? What was happening there? If you were watching it in a movie theatre, you were part of an audience watching a movie about killing nazi's, which at that moment was showing a movie theatre full of nazi's watching a movie about killing allied soldiers, and howling and cheering for all the violence going on on-screen. Basically, you and the rest of the audience where watching yourselves: first you saw a theatre full of supposedly bad people: they were, after all, cheering on the images of people getting killed. Next, you were watching an entire theatre full of people getting burned to the ground, and you probably loved it. You were doing the exact same thing those nazi's were doing a few minutes before.
Quentin Tarantino has confirmed there are two distinct universes within each of his films he makes: the "Realer Than Real World" universe -- an alternate reality very similar to our own, but a more heightened movie version, and the "Movie Movie" universe -- a more fantastical reality closer to comic books and films which features the supernatural. Tarantino has stated characters from one universe are limited to their own (so Butch, from Pulp Fiction, couldn't show up in a "Movie Movie" film, like Kill Bill), but there is a third tier of characters which can crossover to both universes. Sheriff Earl McGraw is the most frequent crossover character who has appeared in From Dusk to Dawn, Kill Bill, and both segments of Grind House.
As it turns out, Donny Donowitz, the 'Bear Jew', is in fact the father of movie producer Lee Donowitz from True Romance, which means Inglorious Basterds is a part of the "Realer Than Real World" universe, and as a likely side effect, everyone in that universe grew up learning about how a bunch of commando Jews machine gunned Hitler to death in a burning movie theater, as opposed to quietly killing him in a bunker. Because World War II ended surrounding the values of film, everybody lends greater knowledge to pop culture, hence why nearly everyone has vast knowledge of movie and television. Likewise, because America won World War 2 in one concentrated act of hyperviolent slaughter, Americans as a whole are more desensitized to that sort of thing. Hence why Butch is unfazed by killing two people, Mr. White and Mr. Pink take a pragmatic approach to killing in their line of work, Esmerelda the cab driver is obsessed with death, etc.
Now, think back to the "Movie Movie" universe. Why do you think its called that? Well, the "Movie Movie" films are actually movies that are shown within the "Realer Than Real World" universe. Their movies for our movies. Look at the kind of stuff that's shown in the "Realer Than Real World" universe: Kill Bill, From Dusk to Dawn -- they're violent even by Tarantino's standards. These are the movies produced in a world where America's crowning victory was locking a bunch of people in a movie theater and blowing it to bits - and keep in mind, Lee Donowitz, son of one of the people on the suicide mission to kill Hitler, is a very successful movie producer. So, why do these crossover characters have magical abilities? It could possibly be that the "Movie Movie" versions of characters are really just actors.
Whats in the Briefcase?
In Pulp Fiction, the containments of a briefcase, which runs much of the plot, is never shown. There's an omnious glow which comes out of the briefcase that is so bright and beautiful that it disarms anyone who looks inside. This, of course, has sparked much speculation about the film. The most popular beliefs include:
- The briefcase contains the soul of Marsellus Wallace. He made a deal with the devil to sell his soul for immense criminal power, and the devil tore it out of the back of his head (hence the Band-Aid). Note the password on the briefcase is 6-6-6.
- The Jewels from Reservoir Dogs; Pulp Fiction happen roughly the same time as the film, and Vince and Vic Vega are brothers.
- Simply put, the briefcase does not have any concrete object, but a manifestation of someone's destiny. Everybody who looks into it is transfixed, but has a different reaction. Vincent looks confused and almost scared because it shows how he dies. Honeybunny and Pumpkin see that they give up their lives of crime and live peacefully thanks to Jules, hence "It's beautiful." Jules never actually sees what's inside, so he's able to become a free man with no knowledge of his future.