Gender Roles - Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 4.5 Stars
Shosanna is a Jewish woman who barely escapes during the brutal murder of her family - but she doesn't allow the Nazis to victimize her a second time. When they plan to take over her theatre to premier a Nazi propaganda film, she courageously hatches a plan to take revenge against the man who murdered her family and a number of high ranking officials within the Third Reich.
Bridget is a German actress who has come to recognize the cruelty of the Nazi regime, and puts her own life in danger by acting as a spy for the British military.
Both women take tremendous risks, volunteering to fight dangerous men for the freedom of others. Though they are women in a time of war, they never come across as weak - and to the contrary, prove to be some of the more threatening characters in Inglorious Basterds.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 3.5 Stars
Both Shosanna and Bridget are smart, proud, classy women, who have attained some level of comfort and security despite the chaos of Nazi rule. They are certainly sophisticated and elegant, but if anything, this tender charm is a cover for the more ruthless nature that is hiding underneath. These women aren't likely to be remembered for their coiffed hair or fancy French berets so much as their wits, their determination, and their bravery.
Plot: 5 Stars
In some respects, Bridget plays a more crucial role than the rest of the Basterds in the plot to destroy Hitler. She has the necessary connections and the understanding of the German language and culture to get them close enough to the command structure of the Third Reich to carry out their mission.
Similarly, Shosanna appears to be a quiet, docile mouse that no one would expect capable of carrying out any sort of assassination plot - yet she turns out to be the secret weapon that the Basterds need to ensure their mission is a success.
Both of these women make Operation Kino possible, not through brute strength, intensive training, or machine guns - but through quiet dedication to their cause and an admirable willingness to risk their own lives for the sake of a greater good.
Love: 3 Stars
From the brief moments that Shosanna and Marcel share on screen together, we can tell that they have a remarkable and touching love story. It's fair to assume that Marcel has been exposed to his own share of hatred and discrimination, and against all odds, the two have found each other. We don't know enough about how they met or what kind of happy ever after they might have found had they not been caught in the crossfire of the Nazi occupation, but at the very least, we can tell that their love is deep. Marcel immediately understands how far Shosanna will go to keep the Third Reich out of her theatre and out of her life. He supports her in even the most dangerous of endeavors, and never tries to talk her out of her suicide mission. Marcel likely had an intriguing story of his own that would've added another layer of dimension to this complicated story. It's truly a shame that the writers didn't do more with this unique character, and this tragic love story.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Men
Language and Sexual Content
Rape and Violence Against Women
Gender Roles - Men: 1.5 Stars
Quentin Tarantino films are known for their violence, and Inglorious Basterds is no exception. The men in this film are either detestable Nazis, or the self-proclaimed "Inglorious Basterds" who revel in their own barbaric violence - hiding behind the thin justification that any German soldier or individual wearing a Nazi uniform deserves as much. There is only one beautifully calm character in this film - A Black man named Marcel, who is characterized primarily by his love of a Jewish woman. Marcel also engages his violent nature by the end of the film, but only in homage to the woman he loves, rather than in wanton destruction of human life.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Shosanna has a powerful and intriguing backstory, but we only see glimpses of how it's shaped her. She carries a lot of anger and hatred that occasionally manifests itself as tears, but we don't see much of the terrible hurt or loneliness that must come with losing your entire family. We can see that she's found some sense of peace and even a feeling of safety with Marcel and the theatre, but we don't know how she came to this place, what sorts of trials or indignities she had to go through to get there, or what harmful effects are still lingering.
Bridget has even less character development. When we meet her she's already turned on the Germans and agreed to spy for the British military. There's no discussion of what finally convinced her to turn against her own people. No mention of the difficult moral decision that she had to make in order to turn away from family members, friends, lovers, and colleagues in order to do what she felt was right. Most of her scenes are full of tension and conflict, but all surrounding Operation Kino. There is nothing to clue us into the internal struggles that Bridget went through to come to the dangerous position she's in.
Language and Sexual Content: 2 Stars (Spoilers)
Inglorious Basterds doesn't contain much sex or rough language towards women. There is one somewhat crude shot of a French interpreter having sex with Joseph Goebbels. The scene seems to have been included merely to show Shosanna's revulsion for French women who go to bed with the occupying German soldiers, and doesn't really add much to the film.
In addition, Bridget is eventually called a "slut" by a confrontational German
officer, but the term has little meaning in the context that it's used. It has nothing to do with her sexuality. It's simply a term to take her down because he's recognized that she's conspiring with the enemy. There's nothing personal in the insult, just the same venom he might've used for any other traitor and spy he found among him. Yet somehow, the term "slut" seems to be more damaging than anything else he might have thrown at her.
Rape and Violence Against Women: 3 Stars (Spoilers)
Both Shosanna and Bridget are eventually murdered by Nazis, but they each have a memorable opportunity to make their contributions to the mission before they're killed. There is nothing horrifically brutal in the ways that they are murdered. There's no glorification in these scenes. And perhaps more important than anything, neither woman is targeted simply because she is weak or easy prey. To the contrary, these women are taken out because they are threats to the power structure. The fact that neither of them survives the film is more a testament to their strength and purpose, than a victory for the brutal men that killed them.
Friendship: 0 Stars
The Basterds are a group of men who have bonded over their mutual hatred of Nazis and shared penchant for obscene violence - but there's nothing to suggest that these men are true friends to one another. They don't discuss the traditions of their shared Jewish heritage or struggle to come to terms with the rise of the Nazi party. They never even show much distress over the death of members of their ranks. They simply drive on in a comedic sort of brotherhood, with no visible indicia of anything that could legitimately be called friendship.
A team of Jewish-American soldiers, known as "the Basterds," lands in Nazi-occupied France, intent on brutally punishing any German soldiers they find. They are ultimately tasked with a high stakes mission to destroy the upper echelons of the Third Reich, and possibly even Hitler himself. But the Basterds aren't the only ones seeking revenge on the Nazis - and the success of their mission may depend on some help from an unexpected source.
Kelly is a labor law