Calling Leni Riefenstahl "the best film director who ever lived" is certainly one way of drawing attention to your movie. Particularly if you stake the claim in Germany. When Quentin Tarantino premiered his Inglourious Basterds (site, reviews from Cannes) in Berlin earlier this month (though the film won't actually be showing in theaters until it opens pretty much worldwide on August 19, 20 and 21), he hung around for several days to give interviews and to toss more than a few nuggets to a press hungry for headlines in the dog days of summer. One of those interviews, shot for German television, can be viewed in full here (and of course, the Q's and A's are in English).
The Riefenstahl bit, which sparked the predictable ruckus ("just look at her Olympia films!" Tarantino argues), popped up in an interview for Der Spiegel in which he also talks about reading Goebbels's diaries and watching films made in Germany during the Nazi era ("some of them were pretty good") in the course of his research for Basterds. He shot the film in the UFA Studios in Babelsberg, and he'll always remember 2008 as his "wonderful Berlin year," he tells Patrick Heidmann in the Berliner Zeitung. The Germany of Basterds had to be "believable through to the tiniest sound."
Germans don't seem to realize what terrific actors they have, he argues, and besides, casting English-speaking actors as Germans has always been an embarrassment. He's set a new standard with Basterds; WWII movies can no longer be filmed any other way. "If Spielberg were making Schindler's List today, he'd have no other choice but to shoot in Germany." On the last day of shooting, Tarantino simply disappeared, even as the cameras were still rolling. Says he simply couldn't bring himself to say goodbye, to break down in tears in front of the "wonderful army" he'd gathered and led over several weeks.
Oh, and: "I will never in my life shoot digital, I hate that!" The day movies are shot only digitally is the day he'll start writing novels.
Tarantino has now taken his movie - and his mouth - to London, where Sean O'Hagan has interviewed him for the Observer. They talk about Brad Pitt, great actors of the past and so on, but for O'Hagan, Basterds is "an epic mess of a movie... Only time will tell if Quentin Tarantino will surprise us with his undoubted brilliance once again, if he can ever mean as much as he once did. Or, more pertinently, if he can mature into the truly great director he once seemed certain to become. I, for one, hope so. For all his excesses, he remains a true maverick... and the most informed, obsessive and entertaining motormouth on the block."
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