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Inglourious-basterds-movie-poster
"We ain't in the prisoner-takin' business. We're in the killin' Nat-zi business. And cousin, business is a-BOOMIN'."

The sixth film by Quentin Tarantino. Set in an Alternate History version of World War II, it is about a group of Jewish-American commandos and numerous plots to assassinate the Nazi leadership. The Jewish soldiers are known to the Germans as "The Basterds," a terrifying group who massacre as many Nazis as they can find, scalping each one but leaving a single man alive to spread the word of their deeds. Oh, but not without carving a swastika into his forehead with a knife.

A young German sniper finds himself the subject of Goebbels' latest propaganda film, the premiere of which he decides to relocate to a small cinema owned by a girl he takes a liking to. Unbeknownst to him, this girl is a Jew whose family was massacred by the Nazis four years ago, and she takes the opportunity of so many Nazi leaders coming to her cinema to take revenge. Upon finding out about the premiere, the Basterds also plot to destroy Hitler and his high command at the event despite being pursued by the SS officer who slaughtered the cinema owner's family.

This being Tarantino, an orgy of violence is inevitable and duly happens.

A large source of confusion derives from Tarantino letting the script get out of hand (read miniseries.). This planned miniseries was scrapped when a friend of Tarantino told him he's the only director who actually gets him to go to the theater. So he scrapped most of the plot and backstories, and what was left was a movie in which the titular Basterds were not quite focused on.

On a sad note, the film is the final collaboration between Tarantino and editor Sally Menke, who edited all of his films until her death in 2010.

Huge spoilers lie ahead. In fact, it's best you go see the movie before looking at the tropes. Trust us, it's worth the 2 hours.


This film contains examples of: Edit

  • Action Film Quiet Drama Scene: For a supposed action film, its quiet (and often dramatic) moments seem to outnumber the actual action parts of the movie.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • This isn't the first movie where Brad Pitt fights in a basement.
    • Eli Roth performs some of the more gruesome killings in the film. Coincidence? And this isn't the first time he's played a "bear"--in Death Proof, his character was named "Dov," which means "bear" in Hebrew.
  • Adolf Hitler: Naturally. Unlike most other depictions, he is messily shot to death to the point that his face is disfigured.
  • Advertised Extra: A commonly cited complaint against the film is that the Basterds themselves come off as this.
  • Affably Evil: Landa is impeccably polite to everyone he questions.
    • Sort of; his first line is "Is this the property of Perrier LaPedite", which is very authoritative, demanding and not even softened with a "Good morning". His next line is "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. LaPedite and there are a couple of other times when he sharply changes from speaking very shortly (if not quite rudely) to flowery courtesies. Presumably this is just another one of his tactics for getting people on edge.
  • Affectionate Parody: Way too many people, possibly those who haven't watched a lot of old movies, don't realize that most of this movie is composed of send-ups of classic scenes from World War Two movies (particularly the bar scene, with the SS officer noticing the accent and the massive shootout, with even the bartender taking out a gun), all done on a bigger, flashier, and more melodramatic scale. It also includes music from Kelly's Heroes in the scene where one of the Basterds in the movie theater is going upstairs back into the theater to alert the other to get ready to kill Hitler. As they say, Quentin Tarantino isn't in the business of making movies about anything in particular. He is in the business of making movies about movies.
  • Alternate History: Hitler and his three biggest men are killed shortly after the Operation Overlord landings.
  • America Wins the War:
    • Subverted. On the surface, it looks like a group of Jewish American commandos is going to turn the tides of WWII. In reality, their plot to kill Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis would have failed spectacularly; the Basterds win only thanks to a Nazi turncoat [whose very presence would have wrecked the plan if he didn't decide to become a Glory Hound], a vengeful French Jewish girl and her French African partner -- who will quite possibly never get the credit for their exploit. In fact, their involvement almost thwarts the plan. Had the Basterds not tried anything, Shosanna would have killed the Nazi leadership without a hitch. On the other hand, had Landa done his duty as head of security then probably nobody would have succeeded, and he needed the Basterds to make the deal that motivated him not to do said duty, so the Basterds were necessary in a way. Double subversion?
    • On the other hand, Shosanna's plan was somewhat poorly thought out: While she had trapped the bulk of the audience in the burning auditorium, it was very likely that Hitler and his men would have escaped from the opera box, especially with the aid of the two armed guards shooting out the glass door that would be the only thing between them and freedom. Had the Basterds not killed Hitler, he would have escaped; and in fact had the Basterds not opened fire on the panicked auditorium then the bulk of them would have likely broken down the doors through sheer numbers. The Basterds' plan was entirely independent of Shosanna's and killed Hitler with more finality minutes before the exploding cinema could have done.
  • American Accents: Brad Pitt speaks in a thick Appalachian accent. It's actually pretty accurate to the time period.
  • Anti-Hero
  • Anyone Can Die: Up to and including HITLER. Oh, and only three characters out of an enormous ensemble make it out of the movie alive.
  • Author Appeal: Quentin Tarantino's fetish pops up again: see Foot Focus and Insert Cameo.
  • Autobiographical Role In-Universe
  • Award Show: Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor in pretty much every show, including the Academy Award. His Oscar speech began with him saying "This is what we call an 'uber-bingo'!"
  • Ax Crazy:
    • Hugo Stiglitz, who stabbed 13 Gestapo officers to death and is visibly creepy.
    • Lt. Aldo Raine also counts. In spite of his rank and all-American good looks, he is little more than a bloodthirsty sadist who really gets off on carving swastikas into the heads of German prisoners-of-war regardless of whether or not they are Nazis. The rest of his team count as well.
  • Badass Boast: "We will be cruel to the German, and through our cruelty he will know who we are. And he will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of his brothers we leave behind us..."
  • Badass Mustache: Aldo has one.
  • Batter Up: Sgt. Donnie Donowitz's preferred method of killing German soldiers, signed with every Jew in the Boston metro area. Played by Eli Roth. How appropriate.
  • Berserk Button: When speaking to Dr. Goebbels, never mention Lilian Harvey.
  • Best Served Cold: Shoshanna's plot. Well, probably not too cold, but at the very least, lukewarm. And somewhat dead, but then undead, given that she was killed right before it began.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Some scenes are not subtitled, in particular the one with Shoshanna and Zoller in the cafe where none of the German is subtitled.
    • Landa's French is very good, and when he makes his excuse that he's "run out of French," he's actually quite articulate. This is an early clue, in fact, the only one, to warn us that he only switches to English so that the family in hiding won't be able to understand him.
    • Germans (or people who understand Germany very well) will quickly pick up on Hicox's accent and the wrong hand gesture he uses (which ultimately gives him away as a spy) before any of the characters do.
  • Bishonen: Utivich, according to the fanbase.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, Hitler's dead and the war's over. On the other, pretty much every sympathetic character (and most of the unsympathetic ones, and a couple of guys we really didn't know that much about...) had to die to make it happen.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The film shows how war fosters brutality on both sides.
  • Blast Out: The tavern's (first) Mexican Standoff ends this way. Everyone is killed in the course of a 35 second gunfight.
  • Bonus Material: Nation's Pride is included in its entirety on the DVD.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: If you assume Landa didn't recognize Shoshanna when they ate together, (though it's also common to assume he did). To be fair, he never did see her face. Just the back of her head.
    • Those who assume Colonel Landa recognizes Shoshanna do it because he forcibly orders milk for her, tastes it, and comments that it is nowhere near as good as the delicious fresh milk he drank at the dairy farm she was hiding at, where he killed her family. (Why he didn't have her hunted in the woods then, or have her seized by Gestapo when he meets her in the restaurant, is another question entirely.)
  • Break the Haughty: This happens to Landa at the end when he gets a swastika carved into his skull.
  • The Cameo:
  • Call Back: Hicox notes that Stiglitz isn't quite the loquacious type, then when called on it, admits the loquacious type isn't who he needs for this mission. When they get to the Facing the Bullets One-Liner (below), he knows exactly who should deliver the line.
  • Carved Mark - Swastikas carved into the foreheads of surviving nazis.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: The entire Mexican Standoff. And they need a freaking drink!
  • Catch Phrase: At least three times during the movie, there is a scene where one character asks another if they understand, and then says "Can you explain..." Happens so frequently that it really makes you wonder why any of them ever asks the question in the first place.
  • Censored Title: The announcer in TV ads for the movie in the UK before Watershed would just call the movie Inglorious. Some of them, mysteriously, showed the full title onscreen; note however that whilst the spelling of "Basterds" doesn't match the spelling of the curse, the pronunciation does, which is probably why only a verbal censor was used pre-watershed (as failing to fully advertise the title would only serve to confuse). In the UK the film is shown on Sky Movies and it is titled Inglourious B******s on Sky's Planner/TV Guide.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Several Chekhov themes are prevalent throughout the film:
    • Chekhov's Gunman: Major Dieter Hellstrom is given a brief introduction, and makes another unimportant background appearance, but later serves as the initiator of the first Mexican standoff in the bar, which causes the death of two Basterds and a British spy.
    • Chekhov's Gun:
      • von Hammersmark's autograph and missing shoe leads to her capture.
      • Shoshanna is briefly shown loading the pistol that kills Zoller.
  • Compensating for Something: After watching Perrier LaPadite smoke a standard corncob pipe for several minutes, Hans Landa asks if he might join him, then produces a ludicrously huge, Sherlock Holmes-style calabash. Raine's knife was also exceptionally larger.
  • Completely Missing the Point: Pretty much every reviewer who blasted the film for being historically inaccurate: it's hard to think that anyone could watch a film where Hitler is submachine-gunned to death in the middle of an exploding cinema and come away with the impression that it's supposed to be a faithful retelling of World War II. Refuge in Audacity, indeed.
  • Continuity Nod: The only black person in the film is named Marcel. Also, Sgt. Donny Donowitz, aka "The Bear Jew," is reported to be the father of Lee Donowitz from the film True Romance, which Tarantino wrote.
  • Cool Guns: The Sedgley OSS .38 glove pistol. You punch it into the target to fire it. It's awesome and based on a real OSS weapon.
  • Covers Always Lie: Shoshanna is actually not a Basterd. And the Basterds are much less prominent than you'd think (see also Never Trust a Trailer).
  • Creator Cameo: Tarantino's head is the first one seen being actively scalped in the film and his hands can be seen later in the film (See Insert Cameo).
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Aldo Raine when Landa is surrendering.
  • The Danza: Omar Doom as Pfc. Omar Ulmer.
  • Deadly Fireworks Display: The entire final scene in the theater. First 35mm nitrate film is set on fire, then Donnie and Omar fire on everyone in the theater from Hitler's box, then Shoshanna's face is visible in the smoke rising from the flames after the screen has burned up, and then the bombs go off and everybody is dead. Hot damn.
  • Death By Pragmatism: Bridget von Hammersmark
  • Deconstruction:
    • Some people see this movie as a deconstruction of the traditional Hollywood historical epic, particularly those about World War Two. Such movies often play faster and looser with history than the average viewer realizes, and can be unintentionally insulting in their reductiveness. By intentionally writing an alternate history, and going for fun action over a serious statement, Tarantino disputes whether such movies really work as actual history lessons, or at the very least, mocks how seriously these movies take themselves.
    • Or, if you take it as straight-forward, it's a World War Two propaganda movie made as though it was made in 1944-45 just as the Normandy Landings are happening. In this, Basterds is no different than Mrs. Miniver, Casablanca, Desperate Journey, or other war films made while the war was still raging, meaning the real ending Of Hitler committing suicide in his bunker hadn't happened yet. Meaning the Basterds could depict its version of the war however it liked.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The Basterds take up far less screen time than you might expect.
  • Deep-Cover Agent: When Hans Landa switches sides, he demands to be given a cover identity as one.
  • Deleted Scene: Cloris Leachman and Maggie Cheung ended up being cut from the film.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: SS Colonel Hans Landa uses such a large and ornate pipe that it seems that he's trying too hard for this trope.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Zoller. Until he suddenly stops being nice. See Kick the Dog.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Lampshaded in a subtle, creepy way: there is a scene where Germans are watching a Nazi propaganda movie about a German sniper who killed massive numbers of Allied troops while behind enemy lines. They are laughing and enjoying themselves watching people from our side get slaughtered. While you're laughing and enjoying yourself watching people from their side get slaughtered.
  • Doomed by Canon: Magnificently subverted.
  • Doppelganger: Hellstrom acts a lot like Landa... Without his cleverness, politeness towards his victims and self preservation sense though. Or his bollocks, eventually.
  • Downer Beginning: The movie starts with Shoshanna's (one of the protagonists') parents and siblings being exterminated by Nazis, while she miraculously escapes the massacre.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Zoller gets the premier of his movie, along with all its high prestige guests, moved to a theater of a woman he doesn't even know. Well, except for Shoshanna trying to ignore him.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Donny, Omar, Stiglitz, Hicox, Zoller. And, for some people, Rachtmann.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Landa uses this to get under Utivich's skin, telling him that he thinks it's unfair that Utivich has been nicknamed "The Little Man" by the Wehrmacht, when he's not really that little. Given that it's Landa doing the talking, it's not clear if he was serious or not.
  • Ensemble Cast: Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, and Brad Pitt.
  • Entitled to Have You: Zoller, when he finally gets fed up with Shoshanna's rebuffs. He's gotten used to being treated like royalty for his heroic actions in the war, and he becomes violent after one too many snubs from her. It's especially jarring because before this he's been portrayed as a pretty nice guy and rather humble about his heroism.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Donny Donowitz and every other male.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French / Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Shoshanna Dreyfus; French and Jewish. That's like pure, concentrated SEX.
  • Evil Laugh: Landa explodes with diabolical laughter at least twice. Later, Shoshanna indulges in this in her message for the Nazis as the film burns and the Basterds kill the crowd.
  • Evil Overlooker: This movie poster.
  • Eye Scream: A soldier or two in the "Nation's Pride" film get Moe Greene Specials.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Sergeant Rachtman, the Wehrmacht soldier that Donny beats to death with a bat.
  • Facing the Bullets One-Liner:
    • Stiglitz tells Hellstrom to say goodbye to his Nazi balls.
    • Hicox says, "There's a special circle in Hell for people who waste good scotch. Seeing as I may be rapping on the door momentarily..." and downs the glass.
  • Fake Brit: Michael Fassbender who plays Lt. Archie Hicox, the Quintessential British Gentleman, lives in London but is in fact half-Irish, half-German. Mike Myers (Canadian) plays another quintessential Brit, General Fenech. And finally, Rod Taylor, who plays Prime Minister Winston Churchill, is Australian. Tarantino talked Rod Taylor out of retirement to play Churchill, even though Taylor suggested Albert Finney (who had played Churchill to great acclaim in The Gathering Storm (2002)).
  • Fan Service: The under-dressed cigarette serving girls at the movie premiere. Entirely in-keeping with the standard Nazi decadence.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Landa has switches sides to the Americans and had a swastika carved into his head. Now he can never return to Germany and will spend his life in America as a pariah.
  • Final Girl: At different points, both Shoshanna and von Hammersmark take their turns in this role, although neither survives to be the last to kill the killers. Then again, arguably they each do, as both of their plans come together to murder all the Nazis in the theater, including Hitler and Goebbels.
  • Food Porn: That scene with the strudel. Also has to count as some sort of dissonance considering Shoshanna's state of mind during this part (to pour salt on the wound, there's a lot of dairy involved as well).
  • Foot Focus: Considering this is a Quentin Tarantino movie, conspicuous by its absence, until the last chapter, when there's an entire scene about Diane Kruger's foot. Both women also die noticeably barefoot. In one case, with her bare foot right in the camera as she kicks and struggles.
  • Foreshadowing: Hitler expresses fear of the "Bear Jew" and the idea that he's a golem summoned by the Jews. At the end of the movie, the Bear Jew mows Hitler down with gunfire and continues to blast his head to a fine jelly.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • The existence of Colonel Hans Landa and the Basterds results in Hitler getting machinegunned to death and the war in Europe ending a year early.
    • Had Sergant Whilhelm's wife not given birth on the night that Hicox and von Hammersmark were to make contact with the Basterds, there would not have been any German soldiers in the tavern and the rendezvous would have gone off without a hitch.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Sort of. In the lightning-fast testicles shooting contest involving Hicox, Stiglitz, and Hellstrom, you can see how von Hammersmark's wound was created.
  • Funny Background Event: Just watch Brad Pitt's face from the moment Landa approaches them in the cinema and he realizes their plan is a terrible idea.
  • Gambit Pileup: Subverted. Everyone's made separate plans, but they're all trying to do the same thing.
  • Genre Savvy: Aldo talking about the Mexican Standoff. Also Landa throughout pretty much the whole movie, until the end.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Jews are sent to fight back against the Nazis. Hitler gets killed by two Basterds and a maquisard who lost her family to Landa.
  • Gilligan Cut: "She was picking a place isolated, and without Germans". Cuts to tavern full of partying Germans.
  • The Girl Who Fits This Slipper Is killed because of it.
  • Gorn: The scalpings, carved swastikas, and Hitler and friends getting blown apart by MP-40 fire.
  • Golem: Donny Donowitz, the Bear Jew himself, is thought to be a golem by several Nazis.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The introduction of the forehead swastika is possibly the sole example in a movie filled with dead soldiers getting scalped and bodies being shredded with gunfire all within full view of the camera. Then again, that was probably just an artistic choice to hide what was actually being done until it could be revealed dramatically. A Nazi officer has a swastika carved on his head at the end of the movie, and it is shown in gruesome detail.
  • Gratuitous English: Subverted by the justifying revelation that Landa picked a language that the Jews he was hunting could not understand. He's also quite fluent in it.
  • Groin Attack: How the first Mexican Standoff is begun. And ends.
  • Hell Is That Noise: In-universe example. When the Bear Jew is called the first time to deal with an uncooperative prisoner, he takes a good 30 seconds to appear, and the whole time he is ominously tapping his baseball bat against the tunnel's wall just to freak the prisoner out.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Inverted with Landa, who strangles von Hammersmark to death for treason, only to later become a turncoat under the guise of being a spy. The inversion lies in that he is a villain who becomes a hero, whereas it is traditionally a hero becoming the villain.
  • Hero Antagonist: Arguably, Sgt. Rachtman and less arguably Staff Sergeant Wilhelm.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Basterds are on a mission that requires them to perform atrocities, and they seem to take great pleasure in it, from scalping the dead to mutilating prisoners to beating the rest to death with a bat. However, because they're fighting German soldiers, they occupy the "hero" slot by default. On the other hand, Friedrik Zoller is presented as one by Nazi propaganda, but his actual reaction to the footage shows that he is not.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A number of examples:
    • Shoshanna died while attempting to kill the entire German high command and liberate their country.
    • Donny and Omar in the theatre die in a suicide mission to kill the entire German high command and end the war.
    • The German soldier who refuses to put German lives at risk, even though he technically isn't a hero. Aldo Raine lampshades his heroic sacrifice for his country when calling Donowitz to execute him.
  • Historical In-Joke: Goebbels freaks out at the mention of Lilian Harvey's name. This makes sense if you know that she had an acrimonious relationship with the Nazi party and allegedly helped some Jewish filmmakers escape Germany. Otherwise it still works as a Noodle Incident.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: While no time travel was involved, the cardinal rule-Don't kill Adolf Hitler-is broken. The movie finished before any consequences were shown, though. However, Cracked has a theory which is based on the common belief that all of Tarantino's movies are in the same universe: the absolute brutality that led to the death of Hitler and the top Nazis, and more than likely the end of the war, led to a more violent future where murder and the like aren't seen as quite as big of taboos as in real life, leading to Gorn-fests like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Additionally, everybody in that universe talks about pop culture all the time ("Like a virgin", "Kung Fu",etc.). It stops being odd when you realize that Hitler was killed in a theatre by its owner and the father of somebody who is going to be a movie producer. Talking about pop culture in this universe is Serious Business.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Nazis were trapped in a theater and burned - gunned down if they tried to escape - just like they had done to Jews in synagogues.
  • Humans Are Basterds. Even Marcel, the nearest thing to a straightforwardly good person in the movie, is an Anti-Hero of type IV. Discounting the peasant families in the first chapter, or course.
  • Ice Queen: Shoshanna is this Up to Eleven with Frederick, for very understandable reasons.
  • I Hit You, You Hit the Ground: Donnie says this to a Nazi soldier as he's taking him to be interrogated by Aldo.
  • Incoming Ham:
    • Hitler's first appearance has him furiously pounding his fist on a table while repeatedly shouting "NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!" in a high-pitched voice, all while wearing a ridiculous cape.
    • Donny tapping his bat against the tunnel wall.
  • Informed Judaism: The Basterds themselves don't appear to be practicing Jews, just Jewish by descent. This has been criticized by some reviewers, compared to other films like Munich.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: The spelling is visible on a gun's buttstock near the beginning of the film.
  • Insert Cameo: When Landa kills von Hammersmark, his hands are Tarantino's own.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: On von Hammersmark.
  • Karma Houdini: Landa almost gets this until Aldo shoots his fellow defector and carves a swastika into his forehead.
  • Karmic Death: At the end, the Nazi high command is essentially locked in a room under (half)-false pretenses and murdered. Death by Irony indeed.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Fredrick Zoller is presented as a sympathetic character in spite of being a German soldier until he finally has enough of Shoshanna's rejections and goes into an aggressive tirade about how she should be thankful to him.
    • The scene where Aldo digs his finger into Bridget von Hammersmark's bullet wound to make sure she's telling the truth about the basement. In a film full of brutality, it's this scene that tends to make audiences wince the most, and it's done to a sympathetic woman on his own side.
    • She has a Kick the Dog moment herself, when she shoots the young Nazi soldier who also happens to be a recent father, right after he drops his gun to comply with Raine's negotiations to save her.
  • Kill'Em All: In the penultimate scene, two of the Basterds start firing indiscriminately into the crowd. They have TNT strapped to their legs, not to mention the theatre is already burning and Landa's TNT under the booth, which ensures no one is getting out of there alive. Of all the main characters introduced, the audience sees only Raine, Utivich, and Landa alive by the end of the movie.
  • Kill It with Fire: The entire Nazi high command. And their friends and family. And some random low-level officers. And people they had sex with.
  • Kink Meme: This one gets a special mention because Eli Roth found it. Then promptly linked to it on his Twitter. Then forwarded it to Quentin Tarantino. Amusingly, their reaction amounted to 'wtf, the Bear Jew always tops'. Omar Doom probably reached for the Brain Bleach though. And Christoph Waltz's reaction must be seen to be believed.
  • Knife Nut: Raine and Stiglitz love their knives very much. Stiglitz dies stabbing the holy hell out of Gestapo noggin during a crazed shootout. He died as he lived, and doing what he loved.
  • Lady in Red: Shoshanna on the climactic night.
  • Large Ham: Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine and of course Martin Wuttke as Der Fuhrer himself. Although Aldo is played for laughs especially during the premiere, Hitler is played halfway seriously.
  • Laughably Evil: When Landa excuses himself to laugh himself almost into convulsions about the paper-thin excuses of Von Hammersmarck and the Basterds, you cannot help yourself but laugh along with him.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Two of them. The first is at first unwilling, the second has his ass beaten by Shoshanna and Marcel. Three, if you count Francesca Mondino, Goebbels' translator/mistress.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: Shoshanna before the premiere.
  • Living MacGuffin: Hitler.
  • Lost in Translation: An in-universe example that turns out to be a major error with disastrous results. In the tavern scene, Lt. Hicox seems to avoid this until he orders three Scotches using his index, middle and ring fingers -- like a Brit -- as opposed to his index, middle and thumb -- like a German. This blows his cover and results in everyone in the bar except Hammersmark and a Heer grunt dying in a 35 second shootout.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Lieutenant Aldo Raine, at least if the scar on his neck is anything to go by.
  • Matzo Fever: Shosanna, for Zoller, though he doesn't realize it, and for a lot of male(and some female) fans. Also, Donny, apparently.
  • Mexican Standoff: It's a Tarantino film, what did you expect? It happens several times, and lampshaded/discussed in the basement tavern, where Raine talks with Wilhelm about how they can avoid the situation. This discussion then becomes moot when von Hammersmark subverts the trope. by killing Wilhelm.
  • Mood Whiplash: In a rare example of the tragedy-to-comedy version, Shoshanna's beautifully shot death scene, with Ennio Morricone's beautiful "Un Amico" building to a heartbreaking climax.... Smash cut to the Bear Jew- "After I kill that guy, you have 30 feet to get to that guy. Can you do it?"
  • More Dakka: Hitler, Goebbels, Goebbels' translator, and a good portion of the crowd die in a massive hail of gunfire.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers, with its machine-gun firin' and Nazi stabbin' and Tarantino-directin', promised two-and-a-half hours of violent Nazi-slaughtering that would make Wolfenstein look like Nazi Propaganda. The trailers don't give away the movie/theater secondary plot (which is never alluded to in the trailers) that take up such a significant portion of the movie, and the actual film takes a far more suspense-drama driven style. They also make it seem like Brad Pitt is the main character, even though he has a relatively small role.
  • Nazi Hunter: All of the Basterds. It is a less-common form of this trope in that they are active during the war as opposed to after it.
  • Name's the Same: The mysterious spelling of "Basterds" was likely to avoid a lawsuit by the copyright holders of the 1978 film "The Inglorious Bastards", which was also a World War II film.
  • Nasty Party: Shoshanna plans to implement her Roaring Rampage of Revenge by inviting the Nazis to her theater to view Frederick Zoller's film, and once the film ends kill them all by trapping them in the burning theater.
  • Nazi Germany: Obviously, though almost all of the film is set in France.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Basterds get von Hammersmark killed as well as two of their own, they're responsible for Landa's escape, and they accomplish precisely nothing as Shoshanna would have gotten all the Nazis anyway.
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: The Basterds.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine:
    • Normally this requires the protagonist to be captured, but when Landa invites himself into LaPadite's home to share a drink and a smoke and chat about missing Jews, his power in occupied France makes the home a prison.
    • Played fairly straight when Shoshanna and Landa meet in a coffee shop, though it's not certain if Landa failed to recognise Shoshanna or if he just decided to let her go so he could mess with her head.
  • No Swastikas: Averted in the movie, naturally, but in German posters for the movie, it's played straight, due to certain laws in Germany (or rather overly strict adherence to these laws, even though the law clearly states that the ban on swastikas does not apply to works of art). Same thing goes in France.
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication: Variation where it is the sender who has knowledge of German culture yet uses the wrong hand gesture. It's an understandable mistake, as the character's knowledge of German culture comes entirely from watching movies, and even people who study German for years in school and have impeccable accents (which the character in question does not, in another major plot point) often give themselves away by this mistake. Of course everyone else realizes the mistake which ends up becoming a Poor Communication Kills and a massive in-universe Critical Research Failure.
    • The mistake isn't easy to spot, and people are known to have to ask around about it, but when one knows just what the mistake was it's impossible to not see it. That gesture is really alien to germans.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • In-character example, when attempting to pass off as an Italian in front of Landa, Raine speaks a few words of Italian but in an entirely American accent. Which is kinda sad since Omar (who can't even speak Italian) had a better accent than he did. Landa asks for all of them to repeat their names several times, and congratulates Omar for his pronunciation.
    • Inverted a second later when Donny does a hilariously over-the-top American stereotype of an Italian accent.
  • Not His Sled: They succeed in killing Hitler. Instead of, you know, failing.
  • Not So Different:
    • Though Lt. Raine says that "the Nazi ain't got no humanity," it's pretty clear that this film does seek to humanize the Nazis. Frederick Zoller's one-sided relationship with Shosanna had a certain chick-flick cuteness. He also dislikes watching a movie of himself killing. Private Butz is just a scared boy who wants to survive the war and hug his mother. Sgt. Wilhelm is shown celebrating the birth of his son and is sadly killed (perhaps unnecessarily) on the same night. Sgt. Rachtmann is shown to be a brave soldier, willing to sacrifice his life for his comrades in arms. Even the normally unflappable Col. Hans Landa shows shock and anger at the execution of an unarmed German soldier.
    • Likewise, even though Lt. Raine seems to chastize the Nazis for their inhumanity, he and his unit seemed to be the most inhuman.
  • Not So Stoic: Perrier LaPadite listens impassively to Colonel Landa talk of how he's looking for a missing Jewish family, until he realises that Landa has deduced that they're hiding under his floorboards, whereupon tears start streaming down his face.
  • Oh Crap:
    • von Hammersmark when she reaches into Landa's coat pocket and finds one of the shoes she lost at the tavern shootout.
    • Landa's face when Lt. Aldo Raine asks him if he plans to take off his uniform. Priceless.
    • The looks on the Basterds and Hicox's faces when they see the Germans in the bar.
  • Ominous Walk: The Bear Jew does this as he walks out of the tunnel, complete with slamming his bat against the walls, to beat a German sergeant to death because he refused to give up the location of a nearby squad.
  • Omniglot: Herr Landa speaks everything. In Real Life, the need for the actor playing Col. Landa to speak four languages fluently was a serious casting issue for Tarantino, one which he claims almost made him give up on the project at one point[1]. In the script, it's hinted he speaks even more languages (albeit not as fluently).
  • One Last Smoke: Marcel, right before he uses it to light the film on fire and burn everyone to the ground
  • One-Man Army: Zoller. Arguably played with in his death since he is shot in the back by... a woman who runs a theatre.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Sgt. Rachtman, von Hellstrom, and Winston Churchill.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Averted. There are two guys in this film who are named Wilhelm; one is a Basterd, and the other is a Nazi, which can get a little confusing.
    • Also, if you speak German, you'll notice that Landa addresses all his underlings as "Hermann", which is kinda funny. Shows he doesn't care about them at all (his final "I made a deal with your General for that man's life!" is even more hollow). This is particularly funny in the scene where he introduces the last Herrmann. He even pauses for a moment to remember his name, and then just decides to go with Herrmann. Herrmann can also be interpreted as "Herr Man", which is German for "Mister Man". Nothing personal indeed.
    • The lowest rank of the SS is "Mann" and the second lowest is "Sturmmann". He could either be calling them "Mister Private" or "Sturmmann" and be misheard as "Hermann".
  • Only Sane Man: Hicox, once he joins the Basterds.
  • Opera Gloves: Bridget wears them at the premiere.
  • Overly Long Gag: Tapping the bat in the tunnel.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All the basterds (save Raine himself) seem to have pale skin and very dark hair. Quite possibly a Phenotype Stereotype intended to mark them as Jews.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil:

  "They're the foot soljers of a Jew-hatin', mass-murderin' maniac, and they need to be dee-stroyed. That's why any and every sumbitch we find wearin' a uniform... they're gonna die."

  • Poirot Speak: Recognizable non-English words like merci and wunderbar are frequently (though not consistently) left untranslated in the subtitles. Not quite a straight usage, but the effect is similar.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: In Germany, the swastikas on all promotional material for the movie are censored. While the depiction of swastikas is technically illegal in Germany, the law clearly states that this ban does not apply to works of art (among other things).
  • Promoted Fanboy: Mike Myers was reportedly a Tarantino fan.
  • Pretty in Mink/Fur and Loathing: Bridget wears a fox wrap. Which trope this falls into probably doesn't matter.
  • Punch Clock Villain: While some of the Nazis, such as the High Command in the theatre scene, the Jew Hunter, and the SS Officers were out-and-out assholes, many "Nazis" were just enlisted men killed by the Basterds simply because they're German soldiers. Particularly Wilhelm and his friends, who aren't necessarily bad people and aren't looking for trouble, but are just out celebrating the birth of Wilhelm's new son Max and happen to be doing it at the wrong bar. Poor bastard.
    • Landa tries to claim this mantle, telling Aldo that he's just a detective who happens to work for the Nazi government. No one's buying it, though.
  • Rasputinian Death: Hitler gets this treatment, being shot so thoroughly as to become nearly unrecognizable. In a locked theater that's burning. Which then explodes.
  • Reality Ensues: Shosanna's ultimate fate, shot dead by Zoller.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some viewers complained that Brad Pitt's (pretty much spot on) Appalachian accent was too over-the-top.
  • Red Baron: Hans Landa is known as the "Jew Hunter," Aldo Raine is known as "Aldo the Apache," and Donny Donowitz is known as the "Bear Jew." Less-impressively, Smithson Utivich is known as "The Little Man."

 Utivich (incredulous and annoyed): "The Germans' nickname for me... is... the Little Man?"

    • Perhaps unintentional on Tarantino's part: "The Little Man" was the nickname of Meyer Lansky (real-life Jewish gangster; Hyman Roth in Godfather Part II was based on him)
  • Refuge in Audacity: Admit it, only a provocateur like Tarantino could have pulled off a movie like this.
  • Remake Cameo: Enzo G. Castellari, director of the namesake film The Inglorious Bastards, appears as a German General.
  • The Renfield: Goebbels is clearly this to Hitler.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Despite being set in a Nazi occupied France during WWII, there's still the occasional comedy gem.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The Allies avert this with respect to Hans Landa until Aldo Raine plays it straight, carving a swastika into Landa's forehead to permanently mark him as a Nazi.
    • This also seems to be Landa's attitude when he kills Bridget.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: Figuratively throughout the film with two separate plans moving toward the same goal. Interestingly, both plans work and complete each other, rather than putting each other in jeopardy. And both groups never communicated, ever. Literally in one key scene in which a character's left hand is not visible, because he is using it to protect himself, but his right hand is, and is the one that gets him into trouble.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Basterds on a colossal scale, also Shoshanna. Roaring fire? Rampaging Bear Jew? Revenge of Shoshanna? Check, check, and check. Tarantino is good at this one.
  • Rousing Speech: "My name is Lt. Aldo Raine, and I'm puttin' together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight. Jewish. American. Soldiers. You mighta heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, the truth is we'll be going in a little earlier. We're gonna be dropped into France dressed as civilians, and once we're in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin' guerrilla army, we're gonna be doin' one thing, and one thing only: killin' Nat-zees."
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: When Landa spends a ridiculously long time talking about how he wishes to switch to English or during the explanation of precisely how flammable the old reels of film were. Possibly subverted in that those end up becoming important to the plot a bit later.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "Fighting in a basement presents several difficulties, the first of which being...you're fighting in a basement."
  • Shout-Out: This being a Tarantino film, there are many:
    • Brad Pitt's character Aldo Raine is likely a reference to film actor Aldo Ray, known for playing tough guys in war movies in the 1960s (mostly notably John Wayne's The Green Berets).
    • Hugo Stiglitz shares a name with a Mexican mexploitation (yes, there is such a thing; Tarantino's old buddy Robert Rodriguez is a huge fan) actor.
    • Tarantino is a well known fan of B movies. Hugo Stiglitz was famous because of Tintorera and other action/adventure movies. There is a reason his name is actually presented with a visual fanfare.
    • Eli Roth's character takes the pseudonym of Antonio Margheriti, the name of a noted Italian B-movie director.
    • Particularly appropriate, given his two movies Hostel, and especially Hostel Part II are homages to the Italian Giallo genre.
    • Brad Pitt's character makes a comment about how he doesn't like to fight in basements.
    • If you pay attention to the room itself, you'll notice it's identical to one in Schindler's List.
    • Also, being manhandled while wearing a white-jacketed suit and a black bag over his head hearkens back to Fight Club.
    • There are several references to Fight Club: A projectionist sneaks in a hidden message, a random bit of sex spliced incongruously into a scene, and the same upward angle shot of Pitt menacing another character with a knife.
    • Shoshanna's floating head over the roaring fires and booming voice scaring the absolute bejeezus out of the fleeing Nazis in the theater could well be an homage to The Wizard of Oz, or the Phantasmagoria.
    • The first scene, where Landa arrives at LaPadite's home to interrogate him, is eerily reminiscent of Angel Eyes' visit to Stevens in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • When the Basterds bust Stiglitz out of the clink, the music playing is Ennio Morricone's "Algiers November 1, 1954", from The Battle of Algiers (AKA Most badass commando-music ever. You have to see the original scene.)
    • The Show Within a Show Pride of A Nation includes at least two shout outs to Battleship Potemkin.
    • The film (Basterds, not Nation) features at least two songs from Kill Bill. Those are more likely shout outs to the Spaghetti Westerns they were originally taken from.
    • The conversation in which a character tries to pretend he was born in a mountain village, and citing a popular skiing resort as proof, strongly resembles a scene in Marathon Man. In that film, however, the nazi/allied roles were reversed in the conversation.
    • The music played while Marcel is heading behind the cinema screen (and while Zoller is on his way to see Shoshanna in the projection booth) is lifted directly from the Kelly's Heroes soundtrack.
  • Shown Their Work: The flammability of the old film reels, which becomes a major plot point. Also, the differentiation of German and British hand gestures. And the explanation afterward from von Hammersmark.
  • Show Within a Show: Pride of a Nation. Types 1 and 3.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Shoshanna, who takes up half the plot by herself, is conspicuously absent from the Brad Pitt-centric trailers and promos. At the very least, she's shown getting ready for the premier of Stolz der Nation, or firing her PMM. Probably because most of Shoshanna's lines in the film are in French.
  • Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes: Bridget and Marcel are Type IV, While The Basterds and Sosshana are Type V.
  • Slower Than a Speeding Bullet: An artistic example of a Subverted Trope.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Maj. Dieter Hellstrom, with his detective skills and cocky, smug attitude, clearly thinks he's some sort of Col. Hans Landa. That type of thinking gets him shot in the testicles at point-blank range.
    • Bridget von Hammersmark is a rare heroic example who sneers at the unfortunate and fatal mistakes made by Hicox but who then doesn't think to take back her shoe or the autograph she gave Wilhelm. It gets her killed.
    • She was dead either way. The horrible accents would have given the Basterds away to Landa anyway, or at least given Landa enough of a reason to check her leg to see if it had really been broken in a mountain-climbing accident - and even if he didn't, he would almost certainly have recognized Stiglitz from the papers.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: All the Basterds can qualify for this, though Hugo Stiglitz is the one that really takes the cake.
    • If you look past the context (Americans killing Germans in WWII), Rachtmann's death doesn't feel like much more than a veteran getting murdered by Gang-Bangers.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The scene where Shoshanna gets shot and killed in slow motion versus the rather romantic music being played over the top of it.
  • Southern Fried Lieutenant: Lt. Aldo Raine, of course.
  • El Spanish-O: Aldo's attempt to speak Italian. The result is... "Correcto."
  • Star-Making Role: Nobody knew who Christoph Waltz was before this movie.
  • The Starscream: Landa, who has put explosives in Hitler's box, though this is actually just a backup plan in case the Basterds' plan fails. Either way, he hopes to take the credit for Hitler's death and be glorified by the Allies, instead of being tried for war crimes when the Germans inevitably lost., like the Magnificent Basterd he is.
  • Stealth Parody: Of WWII movies, especially of behind-the-enemy-lines variety.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Landa can hear Shoshanna escaping and does not even flinch after a few of his soldiers spray up the floorboards in a confined space.
  • Stock Scream:
    • The infamous Wilhelm Scream is in a scene of Nation's Pride when a soldier is shot and falls into a fountain. Interesting (though not wrong because the entire movie plays fast and loose with history), because the Wilhelm scream was first recorded to be used about a decade later, in 1951. Hitler reacts with laughter.
    • When the theater explodes, it sounds like they're using it again: actually, that time, it's Kurt Russell screaming at the end of Death Proof.
    • Somewhat ironically, Staff Sgt. Wilhelm does NOT perform the afformentioned scream when he dies.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Hicox. Realizing he's been found out and is about to die, he nods, apologetically switches back to speaking English, and takes time to finish his drink, declaring, "There's a special ring in Hell reserved for people who waste good Scotch."
  • Straw Critic: Averted by Hicox, a film critic who makes use of his trade as an elite Allied spy.
  • Stylistic Suck: Pride of a Nation, the Show Within a Show, can be watched in full on the DVD.
  • Switch to English: Colonel Hans Landa is speaking to a dairy farmer in French, and he suggests that they switch to English because it is better than his French. This is a lie, of course. The real reason is that the Jews that the farmer is hiding do not speak English, and Landa doesn't want to alert them to his suspicions too soon.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the climax, a crowd of people is locked in a cinema that is burning down on top of them while getting shot apart by two men with submachine guns until the whole damn building just blows up. During the same scene, Donowitz continues to pump bullets into the already very dead Hitler's face and head region; this was allegedly Eli Roth's idea -- he told Tarantino that if he were in his character's place, he'd want to make absolutely sure the son of a bitch was dead. It also makes sense historically, since Hitler had already survived a number of assassination attempts.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: which, could be a second title as this movie is the epitome of the trope.
  • Translation Convention: Notably averted, unlike most more "serious" World War II movies. The Germans speak (subtitled) German, the French speak (subtitled) French, and the Americans and British speak English. In cross-cultural conversations, in one case it is outright stated that they will use English as a median language to accommodate both parties' unease with the other's language, in two cases interpreters are used, and in most other cases the German party yields to their counterpart's language, being that in most cases whomever they're talking to doesn't speak a word of German. Certain instances are pushing it, however, although not to a degree which breaks the suspension of disbelief:
    • In an early scene, Landa goes into ridiculous detail in explaining why he wishes to continue his conversation in English, rather than French. Due to how long and involved his excuse is, one can't help but feel it's gently taking the piss out of Valkyrie and other more Serious Business war movies, or as a Shout-Out to a similar scene that opens Mel Brooks' To Be or Not to Be. However, the decision also has plot significance: by switching to English he ensures that the family hiding under the floorboards won't have any idea what he's saying.
    • Lampshaded with Von Hammersmark's line (spoken by the trilingual Kruger):

 Von Hammersmark: "I know this is a silly question before I ask it, but can you Americans speak any other language than English?"

    • In the bar scene, Wilhelm's command of English also seemed forced, as the absence of common tongue between him and Raine will damage the dramatic tension. Again, Lampshaded by the dialogue:

 Raine: "We're American. *cannot see Wilhelm* What are you?"

Wilhelm: "I'm a German, you idiot!"

Raine: "Speaks English pretty good for a German..."

Wilhelm: "I agree."

Notes

  1. In fact, even the guy they eventually cast does not actually speak Italian, he just did for the movie