The History Society Presents Revisionist Movie Night

On Tuesday January 21, the History Society held their first successful event of the semester, which showcased 2009’s box office hit Inglorious Bastards, directed by Quentin Tarantino. Afterwards, Tufts history professor David Proctor led a follow-up discussion for students to reflect on what they felt about the movie.

Inglorious Bastards tells a fictional tale about two simultaneous yet completely different plots by Jewish cinema owner Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) and a team of soldiers under leadership of American First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) to destroy the Nazi’s political dominance and murder Adolf Hitler. The film uses World War II and Nazi Germany’s takeover in the 1940s as its main setting, yet puts twists and turns to real historical events. What results is an extremely distinct version of the war with black comedy as the main drive for the film. Tarantino’s directing talent, bizarre creativity, and obsession with portraying graphic violence in his movies shone through in Inglorious Bastards, which earned eight Academy Award nominations when it was released.

Despite the movie’s popularity, many attendees at the meeting were only acquainted with the name of the film and had never watched it. With free pizza in one hand and a cup of Coke in the other, students glued their eyes to the screen and immersed themselves in every scene (the reactions to gratuitously violent scenes were priceless.) One minute, everybody would laugh to the comedic characters. The next, they would squint and cover their eyes, horrified at the presence of blood and gore.

After the movie ended, there was silence as students tried to absorb and interpret what they had just seen. Proctor interrupted the silence when he explained what struck him the most about the film.

“There was a huge emphasis on slaughter and senselessness from the characters,” said Proctor, referring to Tarantino’s take on the history during the Nazi era. “Senseless violence and brutality from the ‘Bastards’ was a bit over the top. American soldiers seemed to be portrayed as those who had an ultimate goal to kill all Germans.”

Students also commented about their first reaction to the film. One student said, “This movie was much more serious and visibly violent than I thought it would be since my friends said it was funny. There were some funny moments, but I wouldn’t consider this a funny movie.”

As the event wrapped up later that night, many people still stayed to discuss the movie and European history around the period of World War II.