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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 Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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