Magazine September 21, 2009, Issue

Film: Juvnile but Brlliant

Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa (Universal)
Ross Douthat reviews Inglourious Basterds

If you know anything about Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, you probably know that it features a team of Jewish-American commandos who parachute into Occupied France circa 1942, under the command of a hillbilly lieutenant played by Brad Pitt, and set about killing, scalping, and mutilating every Nazi unlucky enough to cross their paths.

You probably also know that this decidedly ahistorical conceit has made the movie somewhat controversial. For every Lawrence Bender — the film’s producer, who pronounced Inglourious Basterds a “Jewish wet dream” — there’s a Daniel Mendelsohn, the literary critic and frequent excavator of the Holocaust who took to

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