×

Tarantino reflects on ‘Basterds’

Director aimed to finish film in time for Cannes

Quentin Tarantino is so high on the Cannes experience that he worked at a breakneck pace to shoot and edit the 165-page epic-sized WWII drama “Inglourious Basterds” in eight months. And when the writer-director bows his film on Wednesday, he says, “I’m expecting this to be one of the high moments of my career.”

Reflecting on the pic over a hamburger at the Carlton Hotel, Tarantino said it was worth the struggle to debut his third film in competition. (Tarantino won the 1994 Palme D’Or for “Pulp Fiction” and also brought “Death Proof”).

“This is the cinematic Olympics,” Tarantino said. “What an exciting year for auteurs this year, with four Palme d’Or winners. If you’ve done a movie you’re proud of, that you might be defined by, then to me the dream is not necessarily to be there at Oscar time. That’s wonderful. But my dream is to always go to present the film at Cannes.

“There is nothing like it in cinema,” he said. “Nobody has seen your film. It’s a wet print, fresh out of the lab. The entire world film press is here, and they all see it, at one time. The greatest film critics in the world, who are still critics, and they’re all fighting and debating it. When you think back on your career, it comes down to these high moments. That level of excitement is unparalleled.”

Getting to the Croisette took discipline. The film had the same 10-week production schedule as “Pulp Fiction,” fast for a period war movie shot in Europe.

And the film came in at a running time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, shorter than some had expected.

“Directors in my situation don’t normally go this direction, especially when they’re doing something really big. If you have three days scheduled for a scene, it’s easy to (add) the fourth day. It’s nice to have all the time you need, but when you slow down, I think that marbled fat is felt in the pacing. I didn’t want easy and comfortable and I do feel that energy is evident on the screen.”

Tarantino flirted with his WWII project for years, once considering it as a miniseries, even a novel, before stripping down to the story of a brigade of brutal soldiers sent to hunt Nazis, and led by Brad Pitt, the biggest star Tarantino has directed.

Said Tarantino: “Once, I was talking to a big actor who said, ‘You’re afraid of stars. You want to be the guy.’ I never feel like I need a star, but a lot of the great Hollywood directors I respect all worked with stars and so there was this aspect in the back of my mind where it was time to do that.

“Brad is an actor I treated just like the other actors, who happens to be this huge movie star. But he is such perfect casting for this character that if Brad Pitt wasn’t famous, I’d have lobbied for him to have the role.”

While he gave several plum roles to unexpected performers — “Hostel” helmer Eli Roth has a large role, Mike Myers plays a British intelligence agent — no actor has a bigger starmaking opportunity than Christoph Waltz, a German TV actor who plays Hans Landa, the cunning SS Colonel who is the primary antagonist of the Basterds.

“Landa is a linguistic genius, and the actor who played him needed the same facility with language or he would never be what he was on the page,” Tarantino said.

Tarantino grew so frustrated at casting that role, he was five days away from calling off the movie when Waltz auditioned.

“I told my producers I might have written a part that was un-playable,” Tarantino said. “I said, I don’t want to make this movie if I can’t find the perfect Landa, I’d rather just publish the script than make a movie where this character would be less than he was on the page. When Christoph came in and read the next day, he gave me my movie back.”

More Film

  • BTS - J-Hope, V, Jungkook, Jimin,

    BTS' 'Bring the Soul: The Movie' Gets Global Theatrical Release

    BTS will be back on the big screen this summer. The Korean pop group announced today that their latest feature film, “Bring the Soul: The Movie,” will have a global release on August 7. It arrives just six and a half months after the septet’s last film release, “Love Yourself in Seoul.” “Bring the Soul” [...]

  • Box Office: 'Yesterday' Movie Takes on

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' and 'Yesterday' Take on 'Toy Story 4'

    The weekend box office has gone to the dolls. “Annabelle Comes Home,” a supernatural horror film about a possessed toy, is facing off against another band of plastic figurines: “Toy Story 4.” Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is expected to dominate box office charts again over newcomers “Annabelle Comes Home” and “Yesterday,” a fantasy musical set [...]

  • 'The Current War' Trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch,

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Feud in 'The Current War' Trailer (Watch)

    101 Studios has released an official new trailer for the Martin Scorcese-produced thriller, “The Current War,”  offering a glimpse into the dramatic 19th century battle over electricity that became known as the “war of the currents.” The film, which is a dramatization of real-life events, will follow the tumultuous journey of Thomas Edison, played by [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

  • Svensk Filmindustri SF Studios logo

    Warner Bros, SF Studios Expand Distribution Deal Across Scandinavia

    Warner Bros. Pictures has expanded its distribution deal with SF Studios to include Sweden and have their movies released by the Nordic major through all of Scandinavia. Warner Bros. Pictures already has a distribution pact with SF Studios in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Under the partnership, SF Studios has been handling the sales, marketing and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content