Great Scene: “Inglourious Basterds”

Col. Hans Landa ‘chats’ with a French farmer.

Movie: Inglourious Basterds (2009), written by Quentin Tarantino.

IMDb plot summary: In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same.

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Scene Setup: Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) chats with a French farmer, leading to some critical questions.

Farmer stands up, goes over to the ice box, and takes out the
aft of milk. As he walks over and fills the Nazi Colonel's glass,
German Officer talks.

COL LANDA
Monsieur LaPadite, are you aware of the
nickname the people of France have given
me?

PERRIER
I have no interest in such things.

COL LANDA
But you are aware of what they call me?

PERRIER
I'm aware.

COL LANDA
What are you aware of?

PERRIER
That they call you, "The Jew Hunter".

COL LANDA
Precisely! Now I understand your
trepidation in repeating it.
Before he was assassinated, Heydrich
apparently hated the moniker the good
people of Prague bestowed on him.
Actually why he would hate the name,
"The Hangman", is baffling to me
It would appear he did everything in
his power to earn it. But I, on the
other hand, love my unofficial title,
precisely because I've earned it.

As "The Jew Hunter" enjoys his fresh milk, he continues to theorize
with the french farmer.

COL LANDA
The feature that makes me such a effective
hunter of the Jews, is, as opposed to most
German soldiers, I can think like a jew.
where they can only think like a German,
or more precisely, a German soldier.
Now if one were to determine what attribute
the German people share with a beast, it
would be the cunning and predatory instinct
of a hawk.
Negro's - gorilla's - brain - lips -
smell - physical strength - penis size.
But, if one were to determine what attributes
the jews share with a beast, it would be
that of the rat.
Now the Fuhrer and Gobbles propaganda
have said pretty much the same thing.
Where our conclusions differ, is I don't
consider the comparison a insult.
Consider for a moment, the world a rat
lives in. It's a hostile world indeed.
If a rat were to scamper through your
front door right now, would you greet it
with hostility?

PERRIER
I suppose I would.

COL LANDA
Has a rat ever done anything to you to
create this animosity you feel toward
them?

PERRIER
Rat's spread disease, they bite people -

COL LANDA
- Unless some fool is stupid enough to
try and handle a live one, rats don't
make it a practice of biting human beings.
Rats were the cause of the Bubonic plague,
but that was some time ago. In all your
born days, has a rat ever caused you to
be sick a day in your life? I purpose to
you, any disease a rat could spread,
a squirrel could equally carry.
Yet I assume you don't share the same
animosity with squirrels that you do with
rats, do you?

PERRIER
No.

COL LANDA
Yet, they are both rodent's, are they
not? And except for the fact that one
has a big bushy tail, while the other
has a long repugnant tail of rodent skin,
they even rather look alike, don't they?

PERRIER
It is a interesting thought,
beer Colonel.

COL LANDA
However, interesting as the thought may
be, it makes not one bit of difference
to how you feel. If a rat were to scamper
through your door, this very minute,
would you offer it a saucer of your
delicious milk?

PERRIER
Probably not.

COL LANDA
I didn't think so. You don't like them.
You don't really know why you don't like
them. All you know is, you find them
repulsive.
What a tremendously hostile world a rat
must endure. Yet, not only does he
survive, he thrives. And the reason for
this, is because our little foe has a
instinct for survival and preservation
second to none. And that Monsieur, is
what a jew shares with a rat.
Consequently, a German soldier, conducts
a search of a house suspected of hiding
Jews. Where does the hawk look? He looks
in the barn, he looks in the attic,
he looks in the cellar - he looks
everywhere, he would hide. But there are
many places it would never occur to a
hawk to hide. However the reason the
Fuhrer brought me off my Alps in Austria,
and placed me in French cow country today,
is because it does occur to me. Because
I'm aware what tremendous feats human
beings are capable of once they abandon
dignity.
(Changing tone)
May I smoke my pipe as well?

The Farmer's cool facade is little by little eroding.

PERRIER
Please, Colnnel, make yourself at home.

The scene as it plays in the movie:

Tarantino is a master at tension-building scenes at here with Inglourious Basterds.

If you have a suggestion for a Great Scene, don’t be shy, let me hear from you.

For more in the Great Scene series, go here.

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