Is the Inglourious Basterds Blu-Ray Inglourious?

Diane Kruger in Inglourious BasterdsQuentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, the hit Nazi war movie that stars Brad Pitt and a variety of other, lesser known actors of no less talent, arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday, December 15, 2009.

Inglourious Basterds works on many levels, most notably that you don’t know what is going to happen. The Basterds – a group of angry American Jews (and one insane Nazi defector) who travel around Europe torturing and killing Nazis – are only one part of a larger story, and are the film’s least developed characters. While this is the picture’s biggest flaws, the development of other characters and their arcs are exquisitely fashioned, as one would expect from a Tarantino film. Each scene drips with incredible suspense, and yet there is very little action in the movie. A woman sits nervously at a table full of Nazis; some men have drinks in a tavern; a soldier talks with a farmer… none of these statements sound even remotely thrilling, and yet they are some of the most memorable scenes of any movie this year.

This is why Inglourious Basterds deserves serious recognition at the Oscars this year. Will it? Probably not.

Alas, this article isn’t about the movie. Well, it is, but not directly. It’s about the Blu-Ray and its bonus features. The 2-disc special edition of Inglourious Basterds is moderately full of features, a decent collection that neither inspires nor disappoints. One can only assume that a bigger release is coming at some point in the future, packed with Tarantino’s uncut version of the movie.

All three editions of Inglourious Basterds includes extended and alternate scenes, which aren’t really worth the time. Nation’s Pride, the film within a film, can be seen in its entirety, and it’s pretty entertaining (we get to see the hero Nazi sniper kill hundreds of Americans in a matter of over-the-top minutes). The trailers are also included.

For the non-cheap asses (those who buy the one-disc DVD), there’s a faux documentary called The Making of Nation’s Pride, which has some of the movie’s actors playing cheesy filmmakers, and The Origin of Ingloruuious Bastards, which is a salute to the original 1978 film. Neither captured my attention, but a look at the original film, which is only marginally similar, has some interesting nuggets.

There are a couple of featurettes with veteran actor Rod Taylor, but I remember very little about them so they must not have been that great, and a couple of goofy features – Quentin Tarantino’s Camera Angel and Hi Sallys – which are montages of the woman who sets each scene (hence the camera angel) and a “gag reel” of people saying “Hi, Sally” to the camera, respectively. Neither are particularly valuable nor entertaining, but both are harmless.

However, while the rest of the DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features can be described as trivial, the roundtable discussion with Tarantino, Brad Pitt and film historian/critic Elvis Mitchell is well worth it. Pitt and Tarantino talk about the film, how they worked together and other random things; it’s an informative and entertaining featurette.

A digital copy of Inglourious Basterds is also included, as well as a few DVD stuffers (poster gallery, blah blah blah) that no one ever looks at. Additionally, other features are available via BD-Live.

Inglourious Basterds is an excellent movie that will likely appeal to broader audiences than Tarantino movies typically do, and yet it is by its nature a Tarantino movie – a great one at that. Skillfully acted and superbly written, the movie is incredibly suspenseful. Its Blu-Ray is decent enough, but the bonus features are not make-or-break.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: DVD Releases, Movie Reviews
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