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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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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Pope Francis said, “The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism: that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would.”

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