Incongruent Historical Films: Inglourious Basterds Essay

1621 words - 6 pages

Often a film's worth goes beyond what it explicitly discusses, as a films' narrative's nuances and subtleties can communicate more value to the audience than what his clearly stated. This is especially pertinent in historically inaccurate films. Quentin Tarantino's latest two films, Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012), are set in a historical time period, but despite this background these are not history films. Both films are brimming with anachronisms and historical inaccuracies, as many similar films are. Inglourious Basterds features a Jewish character killing Adolf Hitler and Naize to achieve revenger, and Django Unchained features a slave turned bounty hunter on a quest to rescue his wife and deliver vengeance to enslavers. Though neither films resembles actual history, Aaron Barlow, Jeanine Basinger, Terri Francis, and Matthew Boswell agree that films like these offer a useful and quite possibly necessary insight into history and how the audience should approach the past. Thus, many scholars believe that historically inaccurate films can still provide useful insight to the past.

Films can make the audience reflect upon history in ways that a documentary would not compel them to do. Whereas the audience tends to think of history as static, narrative-based films allow the them to see the characters as people who have emotions, hopes, and ideas. Because the audience approaches narrative-based films differently from documentaries, Francis and Hornady argue that narrative-based films, particularly through their absurdness, allow the audience to reflect on history in different ways. The film Django Unchained features many absurdities. Francis argues that the absurdities force the audience to think about the preposterousness of the past. He mentions how rich slave owner Candie partakes in Mandingo Fighting, a style of fighting that may or may not have existed, pitting slaves up against one another (Folsom). Francis highlights that in the film, after his freedom is brought, the title character Django is allowed to pick his own clothing for the first time. He chooses a ridiculous cobalt blue, 18th century style suit complete with ruffles, stockings, and shoes with buckles. Francis believes that those is hilarious anachronism provides the audience with a laugh, it also highlights how ridiculous it was that slaves were unable to control most aspects of their lives, including making such simple decisions as choosing their own clothes (Francis 37). Hornaday agrees with Francis, believing that these absurdities and historical anachronisms force the audience to think about the real absurdities of the past that penetrate the film, like slavery and racism. (Hornaday) While the Django Unchained depicts such inanities as slave revenge, Mandingo fighting, and Django's blue suit, the audience is able to reflect on the absurdness of real history, like enslaving a group of people for hundreds of years in an otherwise modern society.


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