If you decide to watch a film by Quentin Tarantino, you mostly know what you're up for. You know Pulp Fiction, the celebrated black comedy in which a guy in the back seat gets his head blown off because the car hits a bump in the road. You know Kill Bill, in which hundreds of people get killed by Uma Thurman in a revenge fight. You know that Tarantino films are bloody, macabre, funny and far off reality. That's what you're expecting when you decide to see a Tarantino.
But the new Tarantino film is totally different. This time, the fun is not so far off reality, and that's what makes the film a very gruesome experience - at least if you watch it in Europe. The first twenty minutes show a nerve-wracking scene. A Nazi officer, played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, discovers a Jewish family in the house of a French farmer and has them murdered. Unlike former Tarantino films, a long intensive and deep-reaching dialogue in French and German language preceeds the kill. This is not fun. This is good acting of highly qualified actors. After watching that dialogue, you don't feel like laughing about the kills any more.
The film continues with a weird interplay of trash-talking American-style Brad Pitt humor, fighting scences and a serious and well-acted character study of the only survivor of the farmhouse massacre. That HAS to touch you as a viewer if you have an inkling of historic sensitivity. It's not a problem for me to parodize Nazi history, if it's done in a sensitive way. But Tarantino doesn't really choose if he wants to show an irrealistic black comedy or a serious revenge story in a historic setting.
If it was only for that, you could still shrug off the film as an uninformed American-style war movie. But the really sad part is that highly qualified European actors sign the movie with their name. German actors Til Schweiger and Diane Krüger as well as my personal favorite Daniel Brühl and Austrian actor Christoph Waltz have a high potential and have starred in outstanding films before (let me just remind you of Daniel Brühl in "Goodbye Lenin"). Of course it's their right to appear in funny and parodistic films. But a history-based film like this one also sends a political message. An American's vision of Europe and European history is often shaped by Hollywood movies like this one. And many Americans will now get to know the actor Daniel Brühl, one of the very few German actors with a reputation outside of the country, in the role of the self-loving Nazi whom he displays in the Tarantino movie.
It's a real shame to see the actors' talents wasted in a movie like this one.