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Postmoderism in Action

by Isaac Rooks

All credit where credit is due: the idea of using this clip in conjunction with Dr. Casper's postmodernism lecture came from George Carstocea. In many way, Tarantino (particularly in his more recent works) exemplifies contemporary popular postmodern filmmaking. You might not have time for this entire sequence in class, and your students (or you) might not have the stomach for it, but after discussing Casper's postmodernism lecture it can be useful to let this scene play and simply have students identify all the ways in which it illustrates concepts from Casper's lecture. Some examples - though this is not an exhaustive list: His film is set in World War 2, but it's more evocative of men-on-a-mission WW2 films than an attempt to accurately recreate the period. The violence is over-the-top (with special effects done by Greg Nicotero, a man noted for his horror genre work, and featuring horror director Eli Roth as the "Bear Jew"). Audiences are not supposed to be affected by these scenes of cruelty - it's intended as a fantastically cathartic historical-revenge scenario. Since the violence is unrealistic, it is often treated comically, or at least the extreme violence does not prevent the film from quickly switching to a joking tone. As with many of Tarantino's films, this clip is a grab bag of references to past works and popular culture, and the references draw from high to low culture. The music is mostly evocative of spaghetti westerns, although the Stiglitz's introduction jarringly sends the film into a digression that evokes a completely different mood and style of filmmaking. Things like the text on screen and the sudden (audio) cameo of Samuel L. Jackson signal Stiglitz (and the film) as possessing a persona decidedly not of the 1940s. These elements also disrupt an immersive narrative experience. The quick shifts within the text make it a hyperactive, demanding experience that never allows the audience to become passively complacent. It demands a level of playful engagement and insider knowledge in order to fully appreciate what Tarantino is doing in this scene.

Tarantino - Postmodern Filmmaking

This extended sequence illustrates many of the key qualities of postmodern filmmaking

from Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Creator: Quentin Tarantino
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Posted by Isaac Rooks