DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
What can I say. This was a surprise to say the least. I knew before I went in that this was a film which was, shall we say, “Loose” with historical accuracy, though more open about this than Ridley Scott no doubt. The trailer, though appealing, did look as if it was a collection of the best bits from a high concept movie that would struggle to live up it and certainly, as it pushes two and half hours!
But, after all that, this may well be Tarantino’s best film since the note perfect “Pulp Fiction” but it was certainly a return to form after the unfortunate “Kill Bill” movies, which could easily have been one, at the very most.
Beginning with the 80’s Universal logo, you’re caught a little on the back foot from the opening frame, and as this takes off into the fantasy of Tarantino’s vision of the second world war, it’s hard to tell exactly what we are watching and meant to be feeling. This was the feeling I had whilst watching “Pulp Fiction” for the very first time. Should we be laughing? Is this a story of hard drug abuse? Who’s side are we supposed to be on?
But as for this, with the opening scene playing out with Christoph Waltz as the Nazi Jew Hunter, played superbly, we are lulled into a typical old school Tarantino two hander, as we wait as the tension builds to a chilling crescendo. This was a blend of comedy, satire and horror mixed in perfect proportions and this was just the first 15 minutes. The violence is severe, but the motives and morals are equally so. There is a sense satisfaction in the fantasy of WW2 playing out like this, with a Jewish hit squad roaming around occupied Europe slaughtering Nazi’s as if they were an Apache war party. Brad Pitt’s performance was outstandingly enjoyable, as the southern hard case with that classic brutal sense of humour.
The soundtrack was also interesting on two counts, the first being the ever ambitious and original jukebox compilation sound track which has become his trademark, but this time he did something else. The dynamics of the music were that of vinyl, with more treble than bass and a sound trapped with in a lesser and more rigid frequency range. In short, this had the beautiful and almost forgotten sound of music before CD, before digital and this helped to give the film a sense of period. Not necessarily the second world war, but those 70’s/80’s war films with similar outlandish plots. “The Dirty Dozen” springs to mind, but so do TV shows such as “Hogan’s Heroes” and what not.
But saying that the sound mix as a whole was sensation, modern and crisp. A real triumph of sound design on every level.
Overall this was something that any Tarantino fan must see, and though I found this to be thoroughly enjoyable, it is not perfect, but it is the best Quentin has been for well over fifteen years.