First Impressions: The Best Opening Scene

1

Inglorious Basterds (2009)

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I am willing to debate, swap, change and listen to any suggestions on other film scenes for spots ten to two, but I simply won’t have any of it when it comes to my number one.

Inglorious Basterds isn’t even close to being Quentin Tarantino’s best film  but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very good film. Basterds’ main issue is that it is very unbalanced. There are a number of flashes of true brilliance across this film, but there are also a considerable number of points where you feel that Tarantino is over egging the pudding. Too often you get the impression that QT is lost in his own self aggrandising and that he doesn’t have the discipline to edit the fluff.

The start of this film is one of those points of utter and complete and uncompromising genius. It is a tense scene, a wonderfully shot scene, a hilarious scene and most importantly a scene that is dripping with tension. Like Pulp Fiction and The Godfather, this scene is essentially just two people talking.  Again, it is just genius.

And funnily enough, this is where QT’s overindulgence pays off massively – from lingering on the shot of Hans Landa and his men driving to the Lapadite farm, to the hilarious juxtapositioning of the Landa and Mr Lapadite’s smoking pipes.

But what sets this scene apart from anything that I have ever seen is the slow but immaculate escalation of tension and horror. Yes, the scene is (hilariously) funny and quirky in places but a blood tingling menace lurks throughout – this is best exemplified by Christoph Waltz’s Landa. Although he is a SS Nazi, he is extraordinarily charismatic as a character and extremely funny – but you always have the impression that he is pure evil. You never forget it. That unease pitted against other emotions, such as humour and sadness, is what makes this scene special.

I very aware that Tarantino is a bastard and likely wouldn’t be my cup of tea as a person, but it is difficult to argue about his talent. This scene is an example that his talent is still very much potent today.

(Check out parts one, two, three and four)

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