Inglourious Basterds: Cultural Edition

So my friends, I have now seen Tarantino’s latest film twice, in the United States, and here in Scotland.

Now, if you have not read it yet, I would like to direct you to Ben Creech’s analysis of the film. His words do a better job than mine:

The quick review is that the film is better than “Kill Bill” but still not able to eclipse the elephant in the room that is his best film, “Pulp Fiction.” So go see it.

But to get to business:

As I stated, I’ve seen the film twice now in two different countries. Each screening, however was a different experience. Before stating that it is exclusively a cultural difference, another variable could be culprit: While in the States, I saw it in a smaller indie theater (Baxter), as opposed to seeing it at a commercial theater in Edinburgh (Omni). This alone could mean that different audiences (indie vs commercial) offer different experiences.

If this variable were to be eliminated, however, I would estimate that it is a cultural difference that elicits different reactions.

For instance: The film’s entire opening scene, with Landa being so accommodating and polite, came off quite ridiculous to the Baxter crowd, leaving only laughter until the BIG reveal. Here in Scotland, the only thing that got a laugh (and I was going to be concerned if it didn’t) was when he pulled out that redonkulous pipe.

Item 2: Our introduction to Aldo Raine, with Brad Pitt doing his best George Bush, Texas swagger also had Baxter patrons rolling in the aisle; any time he opened his mouth someone was laughing. Here in Edinburgh, barely a peep.

This may be due to seeing the film in Kentucky. Raine could be any number of people we’ve met, just turned up to 11. So his ball clanging bravado tickles us. Or, he’s the ultimate American caricature, and it’s hilarious. Since the Scottish patrons may be unfamiliar to folks of Appalachia or even Raine as a caricature of Americans (as Raine may accurately reflect Americans they encountered ), they didn’t see much to laugh about.

However, Edinburgh folks did laugh throughout the scene between Mike Myers and a British soldier Lt. Archie Hilcox, whereas the Baxter crowd was quite mum. Given Scotland’s proximity to England, they have plenty to recognize. I believe the caricatures we’re familiar with will bring laughter because we see both the grain of truth and the ridiculous embellishment of the caricature in question. So if we’re unfamiliar with the truth of the caricature, we can’t get to laughing about the embellishment.

What was the crowd like for you?

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