From what I know of the historical record, I'd say that Nazi propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl by rights should have been taken out after the war and shot as a Nazi rather than having gotten off scot free as merely an artist making films and having a long happy career. I'm pretty sure that qualifies me as an evil if not heroically inglorious bastard. I'm not sure from watching Inglourious Basterds whether Quentin Tarantino would agree with me - but I bet Lt Aldo Raine would have found my judgment acceptable. Scalping that Nazi for an example would certainly have been more value to humanity than whatever nominal art she created over the next 50 years, besides being what she deserved. I'm just saying.
More than anything, the Inglourious Basterds movie is about movies — war movies and propaganda films. Tarantino tends to obsess in his movies over other movies and TV shows. Sometimes those things are little sidetracks, but the nature of war movies and propaganda films is a central theme of this film. His pop culture obsessions here are exceptionally well focused. Unpacking part of this Tarantino opus, I want to tease out some curious threads about movies and art. I'm not sure how much of this reflects Tarantino's intention, or how much is just short-circuiting in my no doubt frayed wiring.
The main story line concerns a new German propaganda film about the exploits of a young soldier and Nazi war hero named Frederick Zoller who single-handedly held a small town from a sniper tower and killed nearly 300 Americans in three days. Propaganda Minister Goebbels naturally made a film of his heroic exploits — starring handsome young sniper Zoller as himself. The premiere of this film is the climax of the movie.
As I left the theater after first seeing the movie the weekend of release, I had to literally stop by the snack bar for napkins to wipe the tears of laughter from my evil face. The #1 thing from the movie filling me with mirth was Zoller's faux-shy explanation of his celebrity status to the girl he's trying to impress. "They're calling me the German Sergeant York." I about fell out of my damned theater seat when he invoked the iconic "true" Gary Cooper movie. For starters, there was the immediate anticipation of some deliciously bad ending awaiting a "German Sergeant York" in a Quentin Tarantino war movie. Then as the movie is building the pure perverseness of a "heroic" Nazi soldier turned movie star kicked in.