The following introduction and interview contain moderate spoilers.
When a new film from Quentin Tarantino is released, a film as original and awash in genre-geometry as Inglourious Basterds, the post-viewing sensation that follows remains difficult to describe. In Kill Bill Vol. 1, there is a scene set inside the House of Blue Leaves in which Uma Thurman’s Bride blinks and the film switches from black and white to color. A sizable light switch is then thrown by a yakuza. In seconds, the screen turns a cool midnight blue. At that moment the aural equivalent of digital goosebumps chimes unusually through the speakers. Now everything on screen appears the same but is different, renergized and alive. I remember watching this scene and realizing that it inexplicably captures how I feel after a QT film; the difference being that the sensation of a QT film is not flicked instantaneously; it spreads over the following weeks and months as if by a potent time-release capsule. In addition, as this sensation is occuring at a personal level, Tarantino’s characters and images are similarly infiltrating and titillating the collective mind of endless media, fellow cinephiles, and general moviegoers. Pop-culture synapses connect further until a single Tarantino character is loaded into the permanent highlight reel of a respective year, for film or otherwise. It’s the lysergic, symbiotic propaganda of a true genius.
In this way, Inglourious Basterds is no different from Tarantino’s superlative works: the character that will be remembered in bold fashion is Colonel Hans Landa aka The Jew Hunter, the primary villain in Basterds. Moreover, international viewers, and American viewers especially, will come to remember their surprise introduction to the masterful talent embodying Landa, the Austrian actor Christoph Waltz. His career spanning some 30 years, primarily in theatre and television, Waltz’s performance as the erudite, calculating, and predatory Nazi colonel—a fictional Tarantino creation—is all but guaranteed a Best Supporting Actor nomination. This /Film staffer predicts “a bingo.” If a timely parallel need be drawn to exemplify the breakout performance by this veteran actor—a role that plants the seeds for a long, prosperous career—it would be that of Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children. During his whirlwind of publicity, Quentin Tarantino, doting even for Tarantino, has praised Waltz and his character with the following…
“You gave me my movie.” – to Waltz at the Cannes Film Festival, where he won Best Actor
“Hans Landa is one of the greatest characters I have ever written, and one of the greatest characters that I will ever write.”