INGLORIOUS BASTERDS ANALYSIS Johan Erik Lallerstedt
RATIONALEI chose this four minute excerpt due to it‟s contrast to the rest of the film and almost a contrastto the rest of Quentin Tarantino‟s films. Quentin Tarantino is know for his violent, bloody andsuspenseful filmmaking, but I thought that this excerpt was a break from all the violence andaction. Since the first time I have seen the film, I have always been drawn to the elegance inthis scene, and I truly wanted to analyze what made it so appealing. It was as if QuentinTarantino and Robert Richardson, the cinematographer, put in a great deal of effort intoshooting these scenes because they needed a change in pace, and all the effort and attentiontruly paid off as they went on to make this attractive and elegant four minute scene.
In this opening scene, there are a lot of things to mention. The dominant colour is the brightred of her dress and the swastika‟s on the sides and next to her. There are mirrors on bothsides of the frame reflecting swastika flags. This shows a connection between the two, whichpresents the irony in her situation as well (a Jew living with the Nazis without their knowledgeof her beliefs). The large circle in the middle creates a motif of time, due to its resemblance toa clock (as the big moment is approaching), and it also refers to an eye (how she keeps aneye on everything, cautious), which will be a recurring motif throughout the scene. Inwatching the four minute scene, one must remember to think of the colors red, white andblack, for they appear frequently.
There are slow fades between shots which creates a sense of calmand peace. Again, the dominant colour is red, seen on her dressand the swastika flag. Her reflection on the window shows howthere are two sides to Shoshanna and one could be able to saythat you could see her reflecting through a reflection. She ispresented through a profile shot, which usually means thecharacter is in their own thoughts, and it makes sense in thissituation, for in a few moments, she will burn a cinema down withGerman officials inside.
Here the establishing shot is zoomed up closer to Shoshanna(medium shot) and her reflection in the mirror blends with theswastika flag outside. This further creates this parallel with thetwo and its irony. Throughout the whole scene I am analyzing,the 1983 song “Cat people (putting out fire)” by David Bowieplays as non-diegetic sound. This foreshadows the followingevents of her burning down a cinema killing a large number ofGermans.
Most of the time, Shoshanna has a swastika behind her, which againrelates to the irony aforementioned. When the song starts to becomemore intense, she starts putting on her make up along with the beatwhich is a nice connection between the visual and auditory appeal.This is also when the cuts become sharper and do not use fades. Thissignifies how even though everything might seem glamorous andgentle, it can quickly turn into a fast and active scene.
Here we see a few things. When Shoshanna is putting on blush, itcreates an allusion to war paint, which reflects her warrior spirit andwillingness to fight. The next shots are close ups of her putting onmore make up in a gentle manner, which creates contrast with theprevious war paint shot. This also establishes the „sexiness‟ ofShoshanna but also her gritty character. Here is another great focusof her eyes, going back to the motif, and at the same time, the songsays: “See these eyes so red, red like jungle burning bright,” which isan interesting connection between the significance of the scene andthe lyrics of the song.
This is an interesting shot. In the midst of preparing for the big night,she takes a sip of wine. This reflects how she wants to take amoment and enjoy thinking what she is about to do in a fewmoments.
The next shot is of a close up of Shoshanna loading a gun,foreshadowing its importance later in the film (where she kills aGerman Soldier about to discover her plan). This also createscontrast to her femininity and poise. The action of loading bulletsinto the pistol‟s magazine is also done to the sound of the song‟sbeat.
Here she cocks the gun to the beat of the song and places it in her femininepurse. Another example of contrast. The mirror also signifies her two sidesand reflection. The over-the-shoulder shot is often used in dialogue scenesand so it looks like she is speaking with herself, pondering on the futureevents. The costume designer, Anna B. Sheppard, chose a beautiful reddress for Shoshanna that is adequate for the early 1940‟s. Shoshanna‟saccessories such as the purse were also well chosen.
The next shots go back chronologically to when Shoshanna and her friend/accompliceMarcel are preparing the clip they will later insert in a German film that is premiering ather cinema. In their clip, Shoshanna reveals her true identity and her plan to killeveryone in the room. The sudden shift in colours from all the previous shots show thetwo sides the situation has, almost good and evil. The low to high angle on Shoshannamakes her look bigger and superior to whom she sends the message. The lightingfrom behind is a feature commonly used in horror films and is applied here to create adiabolical image. The camera used to film Shoshanna is a well chosen prop because itis historically accurate as it was common for people to have such hand held cameras.
The next scene shows what happened after their time filming. The shots chronologicallybehind the current event of her getting ready, move forward chronologically in their owntime frame. The manipulation of time in the preparation scene reflects back to the motifof time. Another interesting thing Quentin Tarantino did was that the script was writtenso the characters were true to their language. The Germans speak German amongeach other, and the French speak French with themselves, unlike previously made warfilms where German soldiers spoke English with a thick German accent. There is rimlight on the sides of Marcel so that he can be easily separated from the background,and to emphasize his role‟s importance in their plot.
Right after Marcel and Shoshanna are talking about forcing a filmdeveloper to develop their clip, a sudden cut is made to showwhat happens after the discussion, which is indeed, a filmdeveloper being harassed violently by the two characters. Thediegetic sound of the film cases smashing surprises and shocksthe audience.
The few shots during the threat clip are similar to each other. Again, French is used between theFrench, because that is what they would actually do. The framing is interesting becauseShoshanna takes up most of the space of the frame in the top image which shows the intensity ofthe situation. The other two shots illuminate her from behind, and the horror movie technique isused again in these shots to make her look scarier and more threatening. She is the mostilluminated out of the three characters in these shots to reiterate her importance and significancein the scene and even of the whole film.
The next shot is a sharp cut to what happened after, to show howthe intimidation worked, and they got their clip developed. The filmreel is a circle, again relating back to the large circle in thebeginning, and the motif of time. Everything else aside, it‟s also justan attractive frame.
The film reel containing the death clip is in the middle of theframe, accentuating it‟s importance. The big red „X‟ relates backto the dominant use of the color red throughout the four minutescene and it‟s relation to important aspects. Also, here you seeShoshanna with her less attractive clothes, or work clothes,which will contrast with the next shot.
The glamorous red dress contrasts a lot with the clothes she waswearing in the previous shot. This also shows the two sides toShoshanna. The mirror refers to this as well. The use of the color redin the previous shot transitions well to this scene, where the red dressis a powerful, eye-catching part of the shot. Light is also focused onher eyes, referring back to the recurring motif of eyes.
This shot is a great example of framing and lighting. Theparallel lines next to Shoshanna close in on her. This showshow she has no escape from what‟s about to happen. The lightcoming from behind create a silhouette of Shoshanna creatinga sense of anonymity as no one knows who she really is.
This is probably my favorite shot in the whole four minute scene and possibly the whole movie.The act of her pulling down a veil or net reflects her life for the past three years. The Naziskilled her family in 1941 and for three years, she has been living in Nazi occupied Francesaying she was not a Jew, and under a false name as she mingled with German soldiersnumerous times. The veil is like a mask, covering her true identity as the Nazi swastika is in thebackground. All this is an example of symbolism. Her eyes also seem to shine, going back tothe motif of eyes. This shot is 17 seconds, compared to the quick 5 second shots previous tothis one which shows the importance and the significance of this shot.
This shot is done with a crane camera, as it follows Shoshanna from herchambers to the cinema, where 350 German officials await. In the beginning,light coming through the circle window appears as she begins to leave for thecinema lobby, which relates to both motifs of time running out and her vigilance.This scene also shows how close the two worlds are. First she is in herapartment, where she can be herself, and at a few steps, is her other side, theside everyone else recognizes.
The following shots show how she is above the rest, despite their powerful rank inthe German military. As aforementioned, a swastika is always present and sharesspace with Shoshanna during her shots. This mise-en-scene is seen in the flags inthe first image and the emblem behind her in the second image. Horizontal linescreated in the first image by the hand rail in front of Shoshanna and the line that isat her eye level relate back to the rule of thirds and show structure. In the secondimage, a medium shot is used where Shoshanna is in the middle of the frame, withthe veil down, with a low to high camera angle. This proves her dominance andcreates irony because she is a Jew, in a room filled with the people who ordered thepersecution of her family and other Jews, and no one realizes.
This close up on Shoshanna‟s covered eyes relate back tothe recurring motif of eyes and how she monitors the room,scouting the event.
This shot is used to show how many distinguished figures of the German military are inthe room. Quentin Tarantino makes it easy for the audience to know who is at thepremiere, as an animated arrow is used to point out Hermann Göring‟s presence, aWorld War I Veteran and a leading member of the Nazi party during the early 1940‟suntil his suicide in 1945 to avoid his hanging. This is a nice example of how modernmovie making and somewhat comical techniques, accentuate the significance andseverity of a situation.
The four minute scene ends with a mischievous smile onShoshannas face, as she is satisfied of her plan and islooking forward to what will come.