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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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Philip and James: 
		<b>James, Son of Alphaeus:</b> We know nothing of this man except his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater. 
<p><b>Philip:</b> Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45). </p><p>Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, “[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do” (John 6:6). Philip answered, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7). </p><p>John’s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity’s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God’s gift. </p><p>On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, “I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9a). </p><p>Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus’ reply in John’s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his “hour” has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.</p> American Catholic Blog Only in human weakness do many of us begin to rely on God and explicitly repudiate our own divine ambitions. Every pain alerts us to the fact that we are not the Almighty.

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