You only have to have seen Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 revisionist war film Inglourious Basterds to get a grasp of how much the director has studied the history of significant war history.
The film famously tells an alternate history story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s leadership, a project which kept Tarantino struggling to find a suitable ending to the epic picture. “It is the first year of Germany’s occupation of France,” the official film synopsis reads. “Allied officer Lt. Aldo Raine assembles a team of Jewish soldiers to commit violent acts of retribution against the Nazis, including the taking of their scalps. He and his men join forces with Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress and undercover agent, to bring down the leaders of the Third Reich. Their fates converge with theatre owner Shosanna Dreyfus, who seeks to avenge the Nazis’ execution of her family.”
The film marked a significant breakthrough for Tarantino, a filmmaker who had become obsessed with the specifics of war and had been working on the script for ten years. The same could be said for his 2012 civil war film Django Unchained, a film which depicts slave who finds himself accompanying an unorthodox German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz.
Tarantino’s analysis of race in Django Unchained may well have been influenced by his admiration for Ulysses Lee’s book The Employment of Negro Troops. Tarantino told History Net: “The most profound thing I’ve ever read on both the war and racist America of the 1940s, commissioned by the U.S. Army to examine the effectiveness of their employment of black soldiers. Lee came up with such damning information about the military that it was withheld from public view until 1966. Powerful.:
Elsewhere, when listing his favourite war-related books for History Net, Tarantino couldn’t hold back his admiration for Leni Riefenstahl, a German film director and actress who was lived through World War II.
See the full list, below.
Quentin Tarantino’s favourite war books:
- The Ordeal of France 1940–1944 – Ian Ousby, 1998.
- The Employment of Negro Troops – Ulysses Lee, 1966.
- The Ministry Of Illusion – Eric Rentschler, 1996.
- Leni Riefenstahl: The Fallen Film Goddess – Glenn Infield, 1976.
- Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir, 1993.
Eric Rentschler’s 1996 effort The Ministry Of Illusion was described by Tarantino as, “A wonderful critical reexamination of German cinema under Joseph Goebbels. Rentschler goes far beyond the demonising approach employed by most writers on this subject (like Susan Tegel in Nazis and the Cinema),” in the same article.
“His excerpts from Goebbels’s diaries are priceless. And after all these years he dares to make a fair appraisal of Nazi filmmaker Veit Harlan.”
Source: History Net