To even conceive of this movie strikes one as deeply contingent: a revisionist historical plot about an anti-Nazi band of assassins bent on revenge for the atrocities committed during WWII punctuated by low comedy and grand action.
Quentin Tarantino does a masterful job of creating an homage to 30s film, a movie divided into vignettes painting characters in broad strokes, men - good and bad, a classic setting of occupied France, and a grand finale so full of deep satisfaction for the viewer it's hard not to grin with a thorough sense of exaltation at the meting out of deeply deserved retribution.
The characters are: the Apache/Appalachian mongrel ready to lead his Jewish charges into battle (Brad Pitt), the stunning Film Noir heroine whose family was murdered by the Gestapo, a Negro projectionist reminiscent of Sidney Poitier, two Jewish machine gunners/head bashers (among other heroes), the evil Nazi 'Hunter', a German turncoat actress, and the Nazi high command. [Some might find these descriptions offensive but I'm trying to stay true to the dialogue]
It's an affecting movie that allows the viewer to feel a sense of schadenfreude. The opening introduces us early on to the very real, very straightforward atrocities committed by the Nazis on a regular basis. All of the action takes place in France - allowing one to feel a sense of normalcy unavailable to other theaters of the war closed to thorough mental examination. The Concentration Camps, Normandy, Dresden - these are zones of European slaughter on such a scale that it renders the feeling person's senses numb.
At this point, we are introduced to a team of Americans sent behind enemy lines to terrorize the Nazi troops. The critical mark of their attacks is scalping the dead to instill fear in the other units. Early on we are desensitized to the murder - scalps are taken, swastikas are carved into foreheads, skulls are crushed with baseball bats. All of this is a reminder of the base anger of war - death comes on a wave of righteous hate. We are red in tooth and claw regardless of who killed first.
We are then moved forward to the main storyline. A plot has been hatched by the Allies and independently by the Jewish Heroine who is dropped into the fortuitous situation of hosting a gala cinema opening at her theater for the German high command.
Twists and turns bring us to the final conclusion which really does leave the viewer almost revelatory at the outcome.
My main concern is how the early violence is used to prepare people for happiness at murder. The villains are so beyond reform that there isn't a scintilla of restraint in the viewer's vicarious thrill at the slaughtering of all who are hated. This is unlike a horror movie or a drama - the viewer is deeply invested in the outcome - and roots for it.
Is this war? I now see that we cannot live in a state without war. It is the final act of hatred and condemnation and it will be with us as long as humanity knows right and wrong.