Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Brief Intro

Inglourious Basterds, directed by Quentin Tarantino, is a 2009 film that blends alternate history with a war drama. The movie follows two plots to assassinate Nazi leaders: one led by a group of Jewish-American soldiers, and the other by a young French Jewish woman. The film is known for its witty dialogue, complex characters, and rich use of literary and cinematic devices.

Literary Devices Used in Inglourious Basterds

  1. Irony
Movie SceneDevice Example
Opening scene where Col. Landa, a Nazi, drinks milk with LaPaditeSituational irony – A ruthless Nazi officer showing a seemingly innocent gesture.
Shosanna’s revenge at the cinemaDramatic irony – The audience knows her true identity and plan, but the Nazis do not.
  1. Symbolism
Movie SceneDevice Example
Shosanna’s red dress during the premiereSymbolizes vengeance and blood.
The film reel of “Nation’s Pride” burningRepresents the destructive power of propaganda.
  1. Foreshadowing
Movie SceneDevice Example
Landa’s questioning of LaPadite about hiding JewsForeshadows his later methodical and ruthless nature.
Shosanna’s meticulous preparations in the cinemaForeshadows the climax of her revenge plot.
  1. Dialogue
Movie SceneDevice Example
Landa’s conversation with LaPaditeRich, tension-filled dialogue reveals character traits.
The basement tavern sceneDialogue-driven tension escalates to violence.
  1. Metaphor
Movie SceneDevice Example
“The Bear Jew” beating Nazi soldiersMetaphor for Jewish vengeance.
The burning of the cinemaMetaphor for the cleansing power of fire.
  1. Juxtaposition
Movie SceneDevice Example
Scenes of brutal violence and serene countrysideHighlights the contrast between peace and war.
Shosanna’s poised demeanor vs. the chaos of the premiere nightEmphasizes her calculated nature amidst chaos.
  1. Allusion
Movie SceneDevice Example
References to German cinema and cultureAdds depth to the historical setting.
The use of David Bowie’s “Cat People”Alludes to the transformation and vengeance.
  1. Suspense
Movie SceneDevice Example
The opening interrogation sceneSlow build-up creates intense suspense.
The tavern scene with undercover agentsHigh tension due to potential discovery.
  1. Satire
Movie SceneDevice Example
Portrayal of Nazi propagandaSatirizes the absurdity of Nazi ideology.
The exaggerated characters of the BasterdsSatirical take on the glorification of violence.
  1. Flashback
Movie SceneDevice Example
Shosanna’s escape from the farmhouseProvides background and context.
The introduction of Hugo StiglitzGives insight into his character and motivations.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

  1. Hans Landa
IronyHis polite demeanor contrasts with his brutal actions, highlighting the hypocrisy of his character.
DialogueHis verbose and eloquent speech reveals his manipulative and cunning nature.
  1. Shosanna Dreyfus
SymbolismHer red dress symbolizes her desire for revenge and the bloodshed to come.
ForeshadowingHer careful planning and controlled demeanor foreshadow her ultimate act of vengeance.
  1. Aldo Raine
MetaphorHis character represents American brutality and defiance against the Nazis.
SatireHis exaggerated Southern accent and mannerisms satirize American military stereotypes.
  1. Frederick Zoller
JuxtapositionHis charming persona contrasts with his violent past, revealing the duality of his character.
AllusionHis role in the propaganda film alludes to the real-life exploitation of war heroes by regimes.

Character Dynamics

SuspenseThe interactions between characters like Landa and LaPadite or Shosanna and Zoller are filled with underlying tension and anticipation.
DialogueThe rich, tension-filled conversations between characters drive the narrative and reveal deeper motivations and conflicts.

Thematic Analysis

Power and Manipulation

IronyThe manipulative tactics used by Landa often contrast with the expected behavior of a Nazi officer, highlighting the theme of manipulation.
DialogueThe power dynamics in conversations, especially Landa’s interrogations, underscore the theme of power and control.


SymbolismShosanna’s red dress and the burning cinema symbolize the personal and large-scale revenge.
ForeshadowingShosanna’s meticulous preparations foreshadow the climactic act of revenge.

Propaganda and Truth

SatireThe exaggerated portrayal of Nazi propaganda films satirizes the distortion of truth.
AllusionReferences to historical events and films emphasize the power of propaganda in shaping perceptions.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SuspenseCinematographyThe use of long takes and close-ups heightens the tension in critical scenes.
SymbolismColor paletteThe use of color, like Shosanna’s red dress, visually reinforces symbolic elements.
IronyMusicThe juxtaposition of upbeat music with violent scenes enhances the ironic tone.

Key Scene Analysis

  1. Opening Scene: Landa and LaPadite

Watch the scene

  • Breakdown: This scene introduces Col. Hans Landa and sets the tone for the film’s suspenseful and ironic nature. The tension-filled dialogue and deliberate pacing highlight Landa’s manipulative tactics and establish him as a formidable antagonist.
  1. Shosanna’s Revenge at the Cinema

Watch the scene

  • Breakdown: This climactic scene uses dramatic irony, symbolism, and foreshadowing to bring Shosanna’s revenge to fruition. The burning film reels and her red dress are powerful visual symbols, while the use of David Bowie’s “Cat People” song enhances the emotional impact.


Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz

  1. What literary device is predominantly used in the dialogue between Landa and LaPadite in the opening scene?
  2. What does Shosanna’s red dress symbolize?
    • A) Love
    • B) Fear
    • C) Vengeance
    • D) Peace
  3. Which literary device is used to heighten suspense in the tavern scene?
  4. Which theme is highlighted through the use of satire in Nazi propaganda films?
  5. What cinematic technique is used to complement the irony in violent scenes?
    • A) Lighting
    • B) Music
    • C) Set Design
    • D) Costume Design