936full-inglourious-basterds-poster
It took Tarantino ten years to finish Inglourious Basterds, mainly because he couldn’t figure out the ending or how to spell his title. The story grew in scope so much during that time that at one point he considered scrapping the movie and turning it into a TV show. After many “almosts,” he finally shot the film in 2008. The casting of Tarantino’s films is always a fun topic of conversation and Basterds was no different. Quentin originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play the career-making part of Hans Landa, which eventually went to Christoph Waltz. Of course, Tarantino would later come back to DiCaprio to play his big baddie in Django Unchained. Landa was a huge problem for Tarantino during writing. He feared that the part was “unplayable.” He often mentions Waltz saving his film due to his unique interpretation of the part, a performance that would later win him an Academy Award. Tarantino was always careful with Basterds because he considered it to be his masterpiece. He wanted it to be perfect. I don’t know if I’d call it perfect, but it certainly is a great screenplay/movie worth studying.

1) Defy character type if possible (Make your villain polite) – You shouldn’t ALWAYS do this, but a common amateur mistake is to make your villain a really mean asshole of a guy. What a boring on-the-nose interpretation that is! Tarantino goes the opposite direction and makes his villain, Hans Landa, the most polite person in the story. Since we’re not used to this, it unnerves us, makes us feel uncomfortable, and therefore makes his presence way more interesting.

2) For the love of all that is holy, cut out scenes you don’t need! – If you read Tarantino’s widely circulated almost-shooting draft, you see a lot of scenes that were cut. For example, there’s a scene where Hans Landa explains to an officer why he let Shosanna go. It was unnecessary and therefore cut. There’s a scene where Shosanna is taken in by the owner of the cinema she ends up running. Tarantino realized he could move the story along quicker if they start with Shosanna already owning the cinema. You should always be looking for ways to move your story along and cutting out unnecessary scenes is one of the easiest ways to do this!

3) The more doom you imply, the longer your scene can be (or “The Impending Doom Tool”) – One of the reasons Tarantino gets away with writing such long scenes is because of the impending doom he sets up at the beginning of them. Because we know something terrible is going to happen, we’ll stick around to see it. Look at the opening scene of Basterds. From the very first moment Hans walks in that house, we know this is going to end badly. We see this in Pulp Fiction as well, when Jules and Vincent (after discussing the sexual nature of foot rubs) go to Brett’s apartment to retrieve the briefcase. To demonstrate how powerful this tool is, note what happens when Tarantino doesn’t use it. One of the most boring scenes in the film is when Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) is briefed by General Ed Fenech (Michael Meyers) about connecting with one of the Allies’ contacts. The scene is incredibly boring, and a big reason for that is that it’s one of the few scenes in the film where doom isn’t implied. It’s just two guys discussing exposition.

4) DRAMATIC IRONY ALERT – Tarantino LOVES dramatic irony. In fact, the bulk of his storytelling power comes from the impending doom tool and his use of dramatic irony. We see it in the first scene, when Tarantino reveals that there are, indeed, Jews under the floor. We know this but Hans Landa does not. Then later when Shosanna is called to lunch with the Germans, Hans shows up to talk with her. We know she’s the one who escaped the house that day. But Hans does not. We see it in the pub scene, where the Allies are posing as German soldiers. A German lieutenant starts asking probing questions. We know they’re not really Germans, but this German soldier does not. You’ll see some form of dramatic irony in almost all of Tarantino’s scenes.

5) Look for unique ways to stage your characters during dialogue – One of the most interesting scenes in the script occurs after the shootout at the pub. One of the Germans has survived and must negotiate with Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) the life of Bridget von Hammersmark. The entirety of the scene occurs with us never seeing Aldo Raine. He’s upstairs, yelling down to the soldier the whole time. There’s something about Aldo’s disembodied voice that brings the scene to life.

6) The Red Herring – Another really cool thing Tarantino does is introduce red herrings into his scenes – people or things we assume will be relevant, but turn out not to be. You see this in the opening scene with the dairy farmer’s three beautiful daughters. As Hans approaches them, we’re terrified of what’s going to happen to them. Is he going to rape them? Is he going to let his men rape them? Will he use their lives to get the truth of the farmer? In the end, they weren’t relevant, but we feared they were. Tarantino is always looking for ways to build tension into his scenes and this tool is a sly way of doing so.

7) Reverse Save The Cat – Remember that just as a hero should have a “Save The Cat” moment, your bad guy should have a reverse-save-the-cat moment. Who doesn’t hate Hans after that opening scene where he orders half a dozen helpless Jews to be murdered underneath the floor?

8) Always look for different ways to say things – This is one of the easiest ways to spice up your dialogue. Just take a few moments and come up with a more unique way for your characters to say what they’re going to say. When Aldo Raine orders The Bear Jew to kill a German soldier, he doesn’t use the amateurish line: “Kill this asshole.” He says, “German wants to die for his country. Obliiiiige him.”

9) The “Tell Me About Myself” tool – You never want a character to start talking about his own backstory. It never sounds right. (i.e. “I’m a killer. I like to kill Jews.”) So Tarantino’s developed this clever trick where he has the character whose backstory he wants to unveil say to another character, “Tell me what you know about me,” as Hans does in the opening scene to the dairy farmer. This way, the character isn’t talking about himself. Someone is telling him about himself. For whatever reason, this always feels more realistic.

10) Place your scene in an original (but organic) location – The other day I talked about putting your scenes in unique locations to add more pop. However, it’s important to note that those locations must still make sense, must still be organic to the story. There’s a great example of this in Basterds. It’s the scene where Fredrick Zoller hits on Shosanna for the first time. Shosanna works in a movie theater, so an amateur writer may have put her behind the candy display and had Zoller walk in and make his move. To make things more interesting, Tarantino puts Shosanna up on a ladder changing the marquee with Zoller on the ground, semi-shouting up to her. The distance between them adds a charge and uniqueness to the scene that you never would’ve gotten had they had a conventional conversation in the lobby.

BONUS TIP – Find humor in the non-humorous – This is one of the tools that has made Tarantino famous. He always mines humor from situations that aren’t typically humorous. We saw it in Django when all the men put on Klan masks but start freaking out because they can’t see out of them. And we see it here too, with scenes like Hitler going bonkers when he hears about the Basterds. The reason it works is because it’s unexpected. We’re not USED to laughing at the Klan or at Hitler.

These are 10 tips from the movie “Inglourious Basterds.” To get 500 more tips from movies as varied as “Aliens,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “The Hangover,” check out my book, Scriptshadow Secrets, on Amazon!

  • Keith Popely

    I think you’re going to have to go back to DIE HARD or earlier for #1, the polite/nice bad guy. In fact, I’d say that a polite bad guy is a bit of a cliched movie trope. I don’t think real rapists and murderers are particularly concerned about decorum. I suspect they’re foaming-at-the-mouth, red-faced assholes who shout curse words.

    • http://www.facebook.com/todd.walker.3597 Todd Walker

      Not necessarily, just because you’re bad doesn’t automatically make you all the sudden a dirty mouth character. Look at Jeremy Irons in Die Hard With A Vengeance, you almost wanted him to get away with it because he was so likable.

    • klmn

      I don’t think it’s politeness that makes Landa interesting. It’s his gleeful maliciousness that makes his character come to life.

      • Keith Popely

        Yeah, I agree. It’s his calm, sinister demeanor. I’m just making the point that polite, soft-spoken bad guys are not exactly brand new.

    • Paul Clarke

      I think the power comes from showing that the bad guy is really damn smart. Think Hans Gruber or Hannibal Lecter. The way they talk in a calm, sometimes polite, extremely intelligent fashion, makes them so much more terrifying that a lunatic screaming profanity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.bradley.71066 John Bradley

    These are my absolutely favorite posts you do Carson! Every week I read them I get an idea that ends up in my screenplay, so thanks for that! I look forward to next week! Last week, based on your suggestions I was able to combine 2 okay scenes into one good one….I was also able to make one of my supporting characters deaf, adding unique situations to her character without changing any plot points in my story…………..The big thing I take away this week is Defy Character type. I have done a tone of character developement on my characters, but my antagonist still felt 2 dimensional, but making him polite, articulate, and corgial, I think he is well on his way to being 3 dimensional……………..I look forward to an amature review from Carson cause he is practically writing my script for me!=)

  • DD

    Just re-watched this movie the other week. I think it’s far superior to Django (while I still enjoyed Django.) Oddly, I thought the script to Django was much stronger than basterds when I read it. Something about the execution of Basterds was so much stronger. The tension was so high in those long talky scenes because you didn’t know how it would play out. Django, being a western with a central hero and told chronologically, you knew somehow django would get his revenge and win the day. Less surprise there. Great tips. Basterds is one of the most original things Tarantino’s ever done. It’s up there with his very best. Though Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are still his masterpieces.

    • carsonreeves1

      It really is original. To think I didn’t used to like Tarantino. I’ve done a complete 180 on him.

      • DD

        his scripts for True Romance and Natural Born Killers (pre-Oliver Stone’s involvement) are incredible reads. They’re just electric. The biggest mistake QT fans make when trying to emulate him in their writing is trying to copy his dialouge or his structures. The real takeaway should be that he writes CINEMATICALLY. Every scene feels like a mini-movie. Every scene feels alive and bleeding with ideas. Never a dull moment as they say. When I write, that’s what I like to think about. Does this scene feel CINEMATIC?

        • Midnight Luck

          Agree.

          True Romance is one of the best scripts.
          Ever.

          Tony Scott’s re-rearraning it back
          so it goes in a linear fashion
          well, it also works,
          and the story ends up being a masterwork
          in visual and story telling

          • Murphy

            Great movie, used to be my favourite many moons ago. Haven’t seen it in a while but probably should do soon. I actually do prefer Scott’s linear approach, I think it works better than the script did.

          • Midnight Luck

            I do to.
            Tarantino hadn’t quite figured out
            the mix up chronology yet,
            but gave it a really good shot.

            He began to perfect it with Dogs,
            but really came into his own with
            Pulp Fiction. There he mastered it.

            Scott saw it wasn’t there yet
            and saw this picture would be
            just as strong, if not better, played straight.

            It is in my top 3 faves.

      • Zadora

        He is a genius and his films/scripts have so much subtext to them that I think most people who hate his work miss. They don’t see what’s beneath the surface, only what’s happening on the screen.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

      I agree, DD. I think Bastards is superior. If nothing else, that opening with the farmer is one the most powerful and memorable in film history, IMO. Nothing compares to it in Django. And I agree Django does not succeed in creating that tension. In fact, most QT films create more tension than Django.

      • DD

        Yeah and Django felt SOOOOOO long. It was just slow. I just saw Zero Dark Thirty (same length as Django) and it just MOVED because every scene was building and building up to something IMPORTANT and CLIMACTIC. Django was like “nice scene here. cool scene here. let’s place this flashback here.” It just felt a lot rougher and could have used 20 minutes cut out. You could tell QT was not about to cut any of his precious words out, no matter how unneccesarry.

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.hoover1 Stephen Hoover

          Think this had more to do with his editor dying… Too many ‘climbing on horses’ shots.

          • Ambrose*

            Aside from his writing, his directioral ideas sometimes come out as just too much.

            He “borrows” liberally from other movies (titles, plots, characters, actors) – do we really need to hear bits of score from other movies he likes?

            And then he drops in pop songs that are so on-the-nose that’s it’s pathetic: Jim Croce’s ’70s hit ‘I Got A Name’, which, if I’m not mistaken, was used to good effect in ‘Invincible’, but here sticks out like a whore in church.

            Pop songs can work in a period movie, for example, ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (with ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’), although some of the rest of the score for that movie, such as the choral singers doing the “buda-buda-buda-buda” stuff over some of the scenes was annoying to me.

      • http://www.facebook.com/todd.walker.3597 Todd Walker

        Yes, but which one was the most emotionally involving of all his films?

        • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

          A good question, and actually a very tough one. Now that I think about it, his films are not that emotionally engaging, and I say that as a big fan of his work. Who do we really invest in emotionally in Bastards? I guess Shoshanna, but she is in a limited number of scenes. And I don’t think we invest emotionally in anyone in Django, except maybe the slave girl. Maybe Jackie Brown succeeds better as a character than his other films. Good question, Todd.

          • ArabyChic

            That’s my problem with Basterds. I wasn’t connected to any of the characters which made my investment limited. As DD said, in terms of the Bride or Mr. Orange, I was very invested.

        • DD

          I think Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill have great main characters (Mr. Orange and The Bride) with strong emotional journeys (live/don’t be discovered!! and Kill Bill/recover daughter!!) You don’t go into his movies looking for emotional fulfillment, but damn if they’re aren’t re-watchable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

            You got that right, DD. Very re-watchable, very appealing characters. Much of that is his genius for dialogue.

        • kidbaron

          Jackie Brown stands out for me. I think the love story between Pam Grier and Robert Forster is amazing. So well done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

    Loved this film. Some other observations:

    1) If you are going to bend historical fact about a serious subject, make it so over the top that most people are not confusing it with real history. This is actually liberating for a creative viewpoint. Everyone knows Hitler did not die in a Paris movie house. So now Tarrantino is free to tell the story the way he imagines it, and no one will waste time arguing the facts.
    2) When Lander makes the farmer name the family that is under his floor, that is chilling. Now they are not just people under the floor, but individuals with names and ages. Man, that really made us feel that farmer’s pain, his struggle.
    3) The German who is in prison for killing Nazis has no reaction when the Bastards invade the cell. His absolute coolness gives him great power.
    4) ironic dramatic irony: when Bratt Pitt and the other Bastard who are impersonating Italians are questioned by Lander at the theater, there’s great tension because we strongly suspect Lander knows the truth. By now Lander has found the shoe, so we know he is alerted to the plot. And there is no way this extremely clever Nazi would be fooled by the atrocious performance by the Americans trying to seem Italian. So we wonder just what is Lander’s game. We soon find out.
    5) the “twist” where Landa tries to cut a deal is somewhat predictable. But it works because the execution of the scene is so entertaining. Landa, even in his evil, has some appeal because he has an almost child like enthusiasm.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.bradley.71066 John Bradley

      Excellent point Kevin with your Number 2! I had never thought of that, but it makes complete sense!

    • Ambrose*

      Bending reality only works for so far.

      The whole Hitler-in-the-burning-theater scene took me completely out of the movie (as far as I was in it, and that wasn’t very far).

      If Tarantino would have put Himmler or Goebels in the theater instead of Hitler I might have been okay with that but I just didn’t buy der Fuhrer being in that situation.
      Not to mention the pathetic supposedly humorous accents of Pitt, Novak, et al. in those scenes.

      I don’t worship at the shrine that has been erected for Tarantino. He’s a talented writer and director who’s accomplished far more than I probably ever will and he has his fanboys but I’m not one of them.

      To each his own.

      • Kris

        Thank you! I feel the same but everyone I know loved this movie.

        I thought it had some good parts(the farm at the beginning, the bar scene) but for the most part I didn’t enjoy it. I felt totally disconnected in too many parts. I didn’t like the characters of the “Basterds” at all and felt they were totally unbelievable. Not to mention the fact that the “Basterds” themselves felt as if I was being told about WW2 in Europe by a 6 year old. The whole end was just silly, and not in a way that made me laugh. That Hitler would travel around with apparently no sort of bodyguards and be that easy to get at was just stupid.

        I like a lot of Tarantino’s stuff, but I don’t think he is perfect. It’s why I haven’t seen Django yet. Everyone I know keeps telling me how wonderful it was and I have a feeling I’m going to end up the way I did with “Inglorious Basterds.” Having to just shut up and pretend to have liked it as much as everyone else. Because I really can’t take another “film buff” telling me how I “just don’t understand Tarantino’s brilliance.” I really will lose it.

  • Poe_Serling

    QT’s screenwriting prowess + CR’s Top Ten Tips List = A Whole Lotta Awesome on this potentially stormy day in LA.

    Quick side note: I’ve noticed this week’s major film releases are pretty slim pickings… Snitch with The Rock and Dark Skies about a house haunted by ET and friends.

    I wonder which one ol’ Carson will review on Monday… of course, I’m leaning toward Dark Skies, even though my expectations for it are low.

    • GYAD

      I wouldn’t underestimate SNITCH. Writer-director (and stuntman!) Ric Roman Waugh previously wrote and directed the little known but surprisingly intelligent B-movie FELON, starring Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer.

      • Poe_Serling

        You could be right… I haven’t seen any reviews of the Snitch flick yet. Though I must say, the trailer that’s been showing on TV makes it look like pretty standard action fare.

        And speaking of Val Kilmer…

        I just watched him in a supernatural thriller called The Traveler, which I thought wasn’t half bad for being a direct-to-video dump to Redbox. Kind of a updated High Plains Drifter set in a small-town police station.

  • carsonreeves1

    But we don’t know he knows that until the end, so the dramatic irony still works.

    • Kevin

      Right. But you said “We know this but Hans Landa does not.” Which is confusing, if your point is “He does, but we don’t know it yet.”

  • Spitgag

    Carson, it’s shocking SHOCKING to hear you used to not like QT. Say what? His dialog style alone has influenced an entire generation of screenwriters (although often for the worse bc nobody can pull it off like him). I encourage you to watch True Romance again for the “Eggplant” scene with Dennis Hopper and Walken. It’s not his best movie – he wrote it in like 1993 – but that one scene is probably as good as Inglorious floorboards and arguably bettering terms of tension and impending doom. QT is a fucking stud. End of story.

  • JNave

    Another great set of tips. A couple of them are difficult to pull off, especially for amateurs, myself included.
    Defying Character Type by giving a bad guy a good quality is an interesting idea as long as you can make it feel right. Usually it doesn’t, feeling forced or random.
    Red Herrings, as you’ve described them, are often confusing and unsatisfying because the audience expects something to happen with that character or object and feels led to believe that something SHOULD happen, then gets frustrated when nothing happens.
    Lastly, “Tell Me About Myself” is definitely better than talking about themselves, but still feels like a cheat if not done cleverly.
    Great tips, just words of warning from my reading and writing experiences.

  • TGivens

    Thanks, Carson!!! I was waiting for some tips from Tarantino!!! He’s the best!!!

  • Jean Robie

    Find humor in the non-humorous. That one’s tricky and can get you in a lot of trouble. The Klan and Hitler are fair game because they’re our enemies (at least they’re enemies to most of us) and the humor is basically political satire. There are a lot of non-humorous things, especially things people take seriously, that can really fuck you up if you treat them humorously.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeMTheWalrus A.P.W.

    11.) Have an amazing first scene.

    Six of your ten lessons related to the first scene. There’s quite a bit of “Inglorious Basterds” that is forgettable, but the beginning is magic. The reader is willing to put up with quite a bit of mediocrity in Act 1 if your first scene is riveting and unique. So spend a lot of time on it.

  • fragglewriter

    Tarantino’s “Reverse Save the Cat” stories should be studied by every script writer. After you master structure and develop a concise story, every screenplay doesn’t have to follow the same beat as 98% of the screenplays.

  • DrMatt

    I’d disagree only that the scene with Mike Myers and Fassbender is boring. From a screenwriting standpoint, maybe. But their performances really make it entertaining. Everything is just so over the top and goofy that it’s a blast to watch. It also helps set up how smart Fassbender is, but also that he’s only really smart when it comes to German cinema, not necessarily German culture as a whole, which is ultimately his downfall.

    But I constantly go back to this movie for the way the scenes are written. So much tension, executed so well.

    One of the things I find really fascinating, structurally, is that it’s essentially a 5-act play, with no transitions. You have the scenes that are important, and those scenes generally take place in one location, and feature mostly dialogue. And there are no extraneous scenes in between. I’m not saying that’s how it should be done, because who doesn’t love the camaraderie chat on the airplane or train or jeep ride in a war movie. But I find it very fascinating and a very unique way to write a movie. Like go through your outlines, cut out the transition scenes, and just focus on the 5 or 6 big scenes, and just make those your whole movie.

    It’s similar to the approach Sorkin is taking with his Steve Jobs movie, where it’s 3 long scenes and that’s it.

    Anyway, love these articles. Keep it up!

  • denisniel

    This script is priceless…
    It almost hurts me that Tarantino is only going to get an Oscar for writing Django, which although was a superb screenplay (especially if compared to the other nominees this year), doesn’t even come close to being as good as Basterds or Pulp Fiction, for that matter… (in my opinion)

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.snyder.35 Shaun Snyder

    Speaking of “Reverse-Save-the-Cat” scenes: as much as I LOVED Django Unchained (Tarantino is my personal favorite), did anyone else miss the original Calvin-Candie-introduction scene from the script, when he wins Broomhilda in the card game? I understand why they cut it out (because they had to cut out the character of Scotty), but that was one of my favorite scenes from the script. It was an excellent “Reverse-Save-the-Cat” scene; I hated Calvin Candie immediately after that scene. The intro of Candie in the movie was still effective, but not as much as the original.

  • Murphy

    Brilliant movie and probably his best, even better than Pulp Fiction.

    Although I did watch Reservoir Dogs at the weekend for some odd reason and no matter how many times I have seen that film I still get completely blown away. What a masterpiece that movie is.

    Inglorious Basterds was memorable for me because it was the first ever film I went into a movie theater on my own to see. I was away on business when it came out and couldn’t wait until I got back home to see it.

    It seems odd now but I was totally against the idea of going to the movies on my own, I used to think it was a weird thing to do and never thought I would do it myself. But since then I actually quite like it, I get to see movies in the cinema that my wife doesn’t want to watch, instead of waiting to download them, and I get to eat as much ice-cream as I want without any comments about my weight!

    Anyway, it was a great experience and a truly fantastic film. The way that Tarantino can blend laugh out loud comedy with such violence is just genius.

    I read recently that Tarantino is now saying Basterds and Django are the first two installments of a trilogy, the guy does talk a lot of crap sometimes, but I can sort of see it, they certainly are very similar in tone.

  • Midnight Luck

    This is a great breakdown Reeves.

    Though I disagree with a few things:
    most notably #9.
    9 works most with Comedy.

    It works out of shock value,
    where you don’t expect the end.

    Like the classic joke:
    “Enough about myself,
    Let’s talk about you.
    So what do you think of me?”

    Definitely works as a joke. As does #9.

    Taken straight, it’s very hard to get right.
    Tarantino didn’t get it to work in Basterds.
    It felt wrong, a bit out of place.

    It felt literally like he was saying tell me about me.

    Also, the first scene
    which I will say is awesome, and the best part of the movie,
    is stolen or is a direct play off of
    Edgar Allen Poe’s
    The Tell-Tale Heart

    The intensity of what is hidden under the floorboards
    build to such an crazy stress
    the relief is like orgasm
    when it is done.

    Though he couldn’t do better
    than to rework Poe. and Tell-Tale
    one of my favorites of all time.

    • carsonreeves1

      Hmm, interesting. I didn’t know that. A link to the Poe [poem I presume] in question?

      • Midnight Luck

        Read the poem when I was really young
        it has stuck with me ever since.

        The feeling I felt,
        waiting and waiting to see how it all went,
        was the same feeling I had watching that
        opening of Basterds.

        And it is all about the floorboards,
        and what is kept underneath them.

        The sense of foreboding doom I felt when reading,
        and the sense of foreboding
        while watching Basterds, with the creepiness,
        the floorboards, the evil,
        well
        it’s probably something I picked up on
        and no one else.

        Different story I know,
        but the way the tension was built
        and the secrets beneath floorboards,
        it was the same, or very similar tactic used

        Probably exaggerating saying he stole it,
        but it immediately completely reminded me of The Tell-Tale Heart,
        the minute I saw it.

        The Tell-Tale Heart
        about:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tell-Tale_Heart
        The poem:
        http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/telltale.html

    • http://www.facebook.com/shaun.snyder.35 Shaun Snyder

      WOW! I never made that connection, between Tell-Tale Heart and Basterds, but they are very similar. Good for you for catching that!

      • Midnight Luck

        Thanks.

        It was a purely gut feeling.
        I recognized the intensity and gloom,
        all the similar feelings I had when I read
        Tell-Tale, as when I watched Basterds.
        That story was the first thing I thought
        of as I watched.

        The entire setup was eerily the same.
        All about us knowing the intensity
        of a ticking time bomb
        that might go off,
        but not being sure.

        I really believe Tarantino used the
        build up technique Poe used, just
        modified it for his story purpose.
        However, the feeling you get from it
        is exactly the same.

  • kidbaron

    Okay, i’ll give this movie another shot. When I got my hands on the screenplay I couldn’t get past that opening scene. Sooooooo long. I felt it was a snore. Then the title and the marketing was so misleading. I expected a Brad Pitt movie not a Christoph Waltz movie. Now that I know it really more Inglorious Hans than Bastards I can settle in and watch the twist and turns instead of dealing with a nagging sense of WTF?.

  • kidbaron

    Carson, how about doing a Tarantino week? Go back and look at his old scripts and see how they compare to his news ones? What works, what has matured, running times… Jackie Brown, True Romance, NBK compared to his recent stuff.

  • JaredW

    Nice write up, Carson. For me, tips 3 and 4 are really what makes Inglourious Basterds shine. There’s so much underlying tension to most of the scenes that you can’t help but be drawn in. No matter how long the scenes go, you’re riveted the whole way through, and that’s how masterful Tarantino is at writing. Of course, he can get away with twenty minute plus scenes of just dialogue, so us amateurs have it even harder to make the same kind of impact.

  • http://twitter.com/wereviking Warren Hately

    Great article Carson. It’s good practice to just meditate on these sorts of tips regularly and apply maybe 10% of them, which is better than none.

  • jridge32

    Regarding your number 2, Carson: is it important to cut out scenes from scripts which will inevitably be deemed unnecessary to the finished film (were it to be made)? Or, do those scenes actually help with delivering certain storytelling information which can be molded in different ways in the editing of the film itself, so therefore are worth leaving in the script?

  • Dane Purk

    Okay, here’s the deal. This entire article is kinda horse shit. Sorry. Screenwriting lessons? Are you kidding me? Every script Tarantino writes is given an indefensible amount of leeway in the realms of “screenwriting 101.” I hated this movie. If you, Carson, truly believe everything you preach about screenwriting on this blog, then you would absolutely trash this script from beginning to end.

    But you won’t. Because it has “quentin tarantino” on the cover of it. This script has no goal. No urgency. Just a bunch of random scenes that should’ve been 4 minutes long, but tarantino stretched them out to be 17 minutes long, because he thinks (and people like you reinforce) that everything that drips out of his mind is brilliant. This script DRAAAAAAAAGS in the most unfocused way and you call it brilliant.

    Pulp Fiction is a classic. Beautiful screenplay. Great characters, setup and payoff, and BUILD (despite the disjointed structure). But not inglorious bastards. Not by a long shot.

    The biggest thing that sticks out to me when i watched this movie? I FORGOT THAT BRAD PITT WAS IN THE GOD DAMN MOVIE for about 10 minutes. There’s a stretch in this movie where he just vanishes and it focuses on these random, underdeveloped side characters (who mostly get killed off) and I actually forgot that there was a blockbuster movie star acting in this movie. It was very strange. I had never experienced anything like it. Usually when you go to see a “Brad Pitt” movie he commands your attention. But not here. And you can’t credit it to “artistic brilliance.” It’s just a talented writer/director who has been built up and complimented so much that he literally has lowered his standards, and you people are okay with it. I don’t understand it at all.

    I think there is an unbelievable Hindsight double standard going on here. If some amateur writer sent you inglorious bastards you would trash it religiously. I think ever since you decided to “switch gears” and not review professional, unproduced scripts, that your blog has suffered by grasping at aimless straws. This article was an aimless straw.

    I know this comment will be unpopular, but I don’t care. Because it’s probably true. I know enough people who were BAFFLED at the “best original screenplay” nomination nod that this film got. I just don’t understand it. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I watched the movie? Maybe I’m a prick? I don’t know. I love Pulp Fiction. Good Will Hunting. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. 500 Days of Summer. Aliens. American Beauty. Fight Club. Heat. Fargo. Memento. Traffic. And so on. I love great screenwriting. But inglorious bastards? Are you kidding me? Get the fuck outta here.

    Maybe I need to go see Django Unchained to try and restore my faith in tarentino, but as of now, I am very tired of listening to how much of a brilliant idol he is for us aspiring writers. He isn’t. He’s a guy who wrote one great script (with Roger Avery) during the independent welcomed 90′s that got produced and has been given free reign ever since. Free reign doesn’t mean unquestionable brilliance. Sorry people. If this guy is your idol, you simply aren’t going to make it as a screenwriter. Read all of Carson’s “how to” articles on screenwriting then watch inglorious bastards. There will be a strange disconnect in your mind. Because this script is scattered, doesn’t have a consistent protagonist (or villain for that matter) and DRAAAAAAGS for so many scenes, that you will wonder how someone like Carson, who claims to be a screenwriting expert then teaches you “lessons” from this script, could ever help you to become a working writer.

    Sorry folks. Just a big fan of healthy dissent. If you worship whatever some dude writes on the internet, you will simply not make it. Watch the movie again. Pretend your cousin made it. Apply Carson’s usual screenwriting lessons to it. Then learn something.

    This film is overrated. This article is grasping at straws.

    I hope you enjoyed reading a challenging comment for a change. Now go write a good god damn script that isn’t mediocrity with some “renowned” dudes name on the cover.

    And please remember that the dude on the internet who is “teaching you things about screenwriting” actually liked Prometheus.

    :)

    • EZ

      While I don’t agree with the tone, I do think you raise some valid points. I personally found this script lacking and the movie to be one of Tarantino’s weaker efforts. I think it dragged too much and zig-zagged to often beteen the Reality and Absurdity zones, which I found offputting. The first scene was brilliant, yes, but the rest of the film doesn’t match any of his output before this film.

      • Dane Purk

        Sorry about the tone. I was aiming for playfully combative. Sometimes the internet doesn’t translate well.

    • Isaac Cabrera

      I disagree with you on today’s article. These same 10 tips could be applied to a lot of other scripts (non-Tarantino) and still be incredibly valid/useful.

      Though I do agree with you on the movie, I also hated it. I even had trouble finishing it. And with only 54 Comments at this writing, I’m guessing a lot of other writers also didn’t like it — that’s obviously pure speculation (but a Die Hard 5 walk-out article has almost 3X the comments of a God Tarantino film?).

      But, like you said, since it’s Tarantino people think it’s a masterpiece. It’s not. It has a few good scenes mixed in with a bunch of garbage. When the Americans were in the theater trying to act/talk like Italians, THAT was fucking embarrassing and incredibly stupid.

      And the casting of Eli Roth was an egregious mistake (he’s such a tool), along with the casting of unknown actors as the Basterds. Look at The Dirty Dozen, that’s how you cast.

      Good article, terrible movie.

      • DrMatt

        Opinions are great, aren’t they?

      • DarthBobTarkas

        I think Eli Roth’s casting actually works for the film.
        When the first scene with the “Bear Jew” happens, you expect some extremely huge guy, probably with tattoos and a crew cut, wielding a giant baseball bat or something.
        And then you get Eli fucking Roth. And he makes up for his size with ferocity.

    • Spitgag

      No one can say that Django didn’t meander and have unnecess scenes. They were all over the place and the film shoulda been at LEAST 20minutes shorter. But that’s just mega Director doing whatever the f they want. Every Oli Stione, Scorcese and to lesser extent Speilberg movie in there past 10 yrs is no diff. A too long movies comes with your 15 bucks ticket.

      But there was no goal in Django? Puhlease. There was. Django wanted his wife back. Who was enslaved. No urgency? I’ll agree that the whole let’s save up money thing didn’t help (see too long movie) in urgency but it was certainly there. The weakness in the story wads the German guy. His “feeling responsible” and later HE”S the one who snaps for basically no good reason. But overall the movie too a lot of chances. Yes because it was about slavery in diff way. Was it Pulp Fiction? No. Was it good film? Hell yes it was.

      As for crying over Brad Pitt. Newsflash: Bradd Pitt is a good actor who’s done some great work (Moneyball) but he’s no fucking genius. I don’t see how a director using this mega star how he wants shows any great weakness. Compoleing about that almost makes you sound gay. If you are. That’s cool but get the fuck outta here with crying over him.

      Prometheus line = true/funny.

      • Dane Purk

        I was actually referring to inglorious bastards with all my criticisms. I’ve never seen Django Unchained. Sorry if my comment confused you.

    • Age_C

      I have to disagree with you… not because I am a QT fanboy (which I’m not) but because I honestly think that Inglorous Basterds is his best film.

      For me, it has everything great screenplays need to have…

      A fantastic villain. One of the best in film history no doubt. Plus his supporting cast of bad guys, particularly Major Hellstrom.

      A memorable range of characters each with a story of their own to tell.

      Well structured set pieces dripping with tension; like every word pulling a giant elastic band further and further apart until it snaps and all hell breaks lose.

      A clear goal : kill the leaders of the Nazi party. There are mulitple protagonists all playing their role in accomplishing that goal. They may not all work together consciously but in the end they compliment each other perfectly.

      Aldo and his crew.
      Shosanna and her lover.
      Fasbender, Von Hammersmark and the British army.

      We have a ticking timebomb pushing the story forward – the film premier – and yes, even raised stakes when we find out that Hitler himself will attend. Perfect.

      When it all starts to go wrong toward the end it’s almost impossible to know how the hell everyone is going to get out of this.

      It’s easy to hate Tarantino because so many people worship him. He’s not the be all and end all and his name alone allows him to break so many rules that aspiring writers are advised to stick to. That being said, Inglorious Basterds is still the best film he has made in his career thus far.

    • Woodby69

      Feel the love. Who needs script analysis when you can have ad hominem attacks? Do you have a link to your website so I can get some genuinely insightful personal attacks instead of the blah-blah-blah of this Carson guy?

      • Dane Purk

        I think this section is a discussion about the script weaknesses of Inglorious Bastards and how it may or may not diminish the effectiveness or credibility of an article teaching you lessons from it, which seems fairly standard and harmless.

        You may have clicked on the wrong comment. Sorry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

    I enjoyed Django, but I also think it’s somewhat overrated and I agree with many of the points in the links you posted. I’m actually a huge fan of Bastards, which no one interprets as anything more than entertainment. Too many people seem to treat Django as history, or they think it’s meant to stimulate debate. Of course it’s not. There is little memorable about Django, but it entertains for 3 hours, and as a writer, I can appreciate the cleverness of many of the scenes.

  • shewrites

    There are two things I remember from watching Basterds: the incredibly chilling opening scene (great!) and the impatience I felt watching the rest of it (too many long scenes, too over the place).
    There were too many important characters for me to be invested in any of them and none were particularly attaching.
    Someone commented about the lack of emotional involvement in Tarantino’s film and I think he or she made a valid point. Watching a Tarantino movie brings often, if you like the movie, more of an intellectual satisfaction than an emotional one, at least for me.
    Peharps Django, in that regards, offers more emotional satisfaction that his other films. Interestingly for me though, I felt a lot more invested in the fate of Dr. Schultz than in Django’s and his wife’s.
    Love him or hate him, Tarantino is definitely in a league of his own.

  • Zadora

    Tarantino is a genius. That’s the only comment I have about this script, film and QT in general.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

    Goodfellas and the Godfather are the kind of films people will watch over and over. Django is not. I mentioned in another forum that it will be quickly forgotten. But only rare films make it to the level where we watch them over and over. That’s why Django is good, just not great.

    Bastards has one great scene, and several good scenes. The great scene means it will stand better over time than Django. That scene shows what QT is capable of. That’s why hopefully he keeps making films. He has it in him to do something historical. In the meantime, his films always entertain.

    • Django

      Have you seen it more than once to make such a statement?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lenihan1 Kevin Lenihan

    This comment well worth the read, thanks.

  • JWF

    According to Tarantino most people told him his scripts were garbage until Reservoir Dogs came out, and apparently that only got made because Harvey Keitel loved it so much and pushed so hard for the funding. I think it was in the Hollywood Reporter awards roundtable this year where Quentin said that Reservoir Dogs would not have happened without Harvey Keitel.

    Then of course after the success of Reservoir Dogs he sold True Romance, Natural Born Killers and went on to make Pulp Fiction. Basically QT’s career is a lesson in sticking to your guns.

  • http://twitter.com/EzShake Ezekial Shake

    of all the Tarantino films you pick this one as an example with its dumb music video in the middle, a big deal being made about holding your fingers wrong exposing them as fake Germans then the film descends into farce as they lampoon bad Italian accents and our ostensible heroine who ran off in the beginning and we expect to get her revenge is ho-hum when faced with the murderer … Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino’s worst film

  • carsonreeves1

    I thought I blacklisted Quentin’s mom from this board. Stupid unreliable Disqus.

  • Jestar

    I came to read about the screen play in Inglorious Basterds, and end up with a spoiler for Django Unchained. Thanks for that.

  • suminator

    My humble opinion goes to everyone loving or hating or whatever on QT’s work, and it is that what you need to understand in watching his movies is that the wit and humor and not the realism or naturalism is what gets him where he is – the Master of the craft. You need to relax and enjoy the acting brilliance of his cast interpreting the script and have fun fun fun :)

  • Dane Purk

    If your comment wasn’t just pretentious thesaurus desperation and self-involved, incoherent analogies, I would probably have a respectable response, but as it stands, I have no idea what you are trying to accomplish. So I’ll just say “great job” and move on. Have a nice day!

  • Ant

    So why DID Hans let Shosanna go at the beginning?

    Are we sure Hans doesn’t know who she is at lunch? I thought that was in doubt Maybe he let her go AGAIN.

  • ali lary

    Hans landa is gay his lover is the guy Aldo shot at the end of the movie ,that’s why Hans Landa wanted to make a deal with the american to live free with his lover and a lot of pieces of the puzzle get put together and about Shushanna , I think Hans knows who she or even if he doesn’t it’s nice how QT put the seen in the restaurant together, he orders her milk because she’s from a cow farm and he insists for her to wait for the cream ,then he shoves the cigarette (fire) in the cream which is also made of milk .

  • lesbiancannibal

    Yes, same in True Romance with that perfect Hopper/Walken scene – the dramatic irony is both characters know, and then the audience catches on quick, but nothing is said except in subtext – “I think I’ll have that Chesterfield now”. Awesome

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