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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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