“Inglourious Basterds” – The Hidden Message – Interrogation Vs Torture

Inglourious Basterds is a remarkable movie well deserving of its critical acclaim (4 Stars) in spite of itsĀ  wisegolfers conspicuous negatives (I will get into them at another time). Then again, Quentin Tarantino is Quentin Tarantino as he is defined by his other classics – Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction – two of his best works.

By now it is common knowledge that the showstopper and the star of the Inglourious Basterds is not Brad Pitt’s character – Lt. Aldo Raines but Christoph Waltz’s character – Col. Hans Landa of the S.S. Yep, Brad Pitt is to Christoph Waltz what Beyonce Knowles was to Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls. In fact, Christoph Waltz, like Jennifer Hudson, will be the one to win the Oscar although it is Brad Pitt’s face, like Beyonce Knowles’, is used to promote the film.

History buffs, like me, might be up in arms over the film’s distortion of history. Well the film isn’t about history, per se. It is about films or the cinema. Better yet, it is about the history of the cinema. It’s a movie that would be more appreciated and be more studied at New York University Film School than at Columbia University History Department.

Ah, but I digressed…if I may borrow a line of Col. Hans Landa of the S.S. Today, the Justice Department is considering possible investigations into allegations of tortures carried out by the CIA in the current Wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama pointed out that Churchill (his character had a cameo in the movie) didn’t allow the British to torture their detainees during WWII (although Nazi Germany was notoriously torture happy…). Ironically, Col. Hans Landa of the S.S. (of all people) showed how a trained interrogator can retrieve truthful information without torture. Here is a detective interrogating, from his viewpoint, terrorists, spies, saboteurs, war criminals, prospective suicide bombers, homicide bombers and enemies of the State yet he broke down his victims, er, detainees by skillful interrogation.

Do not get me wrong, SS Colonel Hans Landa was pure evil – more evil than he was a Nazi. Nonetheless, we can learn a lot from a barbarian and from a beast that we shouldn’t act like barbarians or like beasts. If not, we will become the barbarians and the beasts that we purport to despise….


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