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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Inglourious Basterds

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Brad Pitt stars in a scene from the movie "Inglourious Basterds."
“Inglourious Basterds" is a provocative World War II fantasy requiring careful moral assessment from viewers well-educated in Catholic teaching and able to withstand its occasional episodes of graphic bloodletting. In between those incidents, writer-director Quentin Tarentino weaves a suspenseful, though somewhat lurid, alternate history of a tragic epoch.
 
The opening scenes introduce us to Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), a keenly intelligent Nazi officer completely dedicated to his work of hunting down Jewish families in the countryside of recently occupied France. After interrogating and threatening the Catholic farmer who has been concealing them on his isolated property, Landa has his men slaughter the fugitive Dreyfus family, though daughter Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) manages to escape.
 
In an initially unrelated story line, following the U.S. entry into the conflict, hard-bitten Southerner Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish-American commandoes for a ruthless behind-the-lines campaign designed to terrify ordinary German soldiers. Their methods include beating uncooperative prisoners to death with a baseball bat, scalping corpses and carving a swastika into the forehead of anyone they choose to leave alive.
 
1944 finds Shosanna in Paris, passing as a gentile cinema owner. When a German war film is slated to have its gala premiere at her theater, she sets in motion a plot to assassinate Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) and the other key party leaders who plan to attend.
 
Unbeknownst to Shosanna, Raine and his followers are conspiring to accomplish the same thing through collaboration with a German film star turned Allied agent, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger).Transferred to Paris to supervise security in the capital as the Allies close in, Landa is in a position to threaten both schemes.
 
As the direct perpetrators of an inhuman tyranny, Goebbels and his ilk would have made fair targets, since they bore personal guilt for the regime's bloody crimes, and their lives were obstacles to the restoration of the common good.
 
But the American band's systematic brutality toward low-ranking enemy soldiers, especially prisoners, is far less easily justified, and can only be accepted within a genre far removed from reality and on the supposition that all Teutonic combatants were, to some degree at least, Holocaust enablers.
 
The film (from Weinstein/Universal) contains strong violent content, including torture and mutilation, complex moral issues, a few uses of profanity, and much rough and some crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted; under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
 
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Conversion of St. Paul: Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “...entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior. 
<p>One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing. </p><p>From then on, his only work was to “present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:28b-29). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5a). </p><p>Paul’s life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ’s victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new. </p><p>So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.</p> American Catholic Blog If you’re confused as to why God would die for you, you either need to rethink your vision of His mercy or of your own worth.

 
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