Monday, 21 September 2009
If you'll pardon my doing so, I'd like to start things off today on a bit of a proactive note. Namely, if you haven't seen Inglourious Basterds yet, please take the time to do so. Not for my sake, of course. I've seen it twice, once squeezed between a pair of frightfully squeamish women, and I suppose it wouldn't be the worse thing in the world if you'd read this without really knowing what I was talking about. Still, being able to bond over a shared experience is what seperates us from the chimps.
Or do they do that too? Regardless. I'm pretty sure shameless bat-wielding Nazi killers never come up in conversation during daily poo-flinging sessions. Then again, according to a spur-of-the-moment Wikipedia search, chimps and orangutans do show laughterlike vocalizations in response to certain stimuli -- so if they were to watch Inglourious Basterds, they'd probably enjoy it. How's that for a thesis?
Anyway, more to the point. Those of us who've seen the picture can now revel in our butter-flavoured recollections. Evil Nazis! German starlets! The basement shootout! Hugo Stiglitz! And all of it accompanied by a truly ecclectic collection of song and score snippets, from old '70s Blaxploitation theme songs (no kidding) to David Bowie (no kidding.)
Asked why he wouldn't just hire an established band to record some songs for the film or, you know, a film composer to score the piece, Tarantino said: "I hate that crap. It would've been easy to hire some artist to do the 'Ballad of Shoshanna,' and it could be telling her story in a very on-point, nail-on-the-head kind of way." Instead, the director chose the old David Bowie tune "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)," a song recorded back in 1981 with Giorgio Moroder, to accompany perhaps the most arresting visual of the entire film. Forget the scalping, the gun play, and the pummellings; it's when beautiful Melanie Laurent, playing Shosanna, peers through the upstairs window of her modest movie theatre at a league of top-ranking Nazi officials -- and the opening licks of "Cat People" kick in -- that the film enters a truly mystical plane.
It's not just a bunch of actors dressed as Nazis. And it's not just another David Bowie song. It's that chill-inducing line "Still this pulsing night, A plague I call a heartbeat"; the leviathan Swastika banners floating down from the ceiling; the three hundred cans of nitrate film ready to detonate backstage. And the knowledge that the fate of the free world, at least in this fictionalized version of history, depends upon the outcome of this night.
"You're actually shocked at how well the lyrics to 'Cat People' work to [Shosanna's] story," Tarantino said during an interview at Amoeba Music in Hollywood. "I'm looking for that stuff that you haven't heard a gazillion times before. It's kind of a personal mix-tape that I'm making for you. I like the amateur quality about it."