By now you probably know our feelings on Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" which we saw at Cannes. Said feelings go like this: 1) Brilliant screenplay, 2) disappointing movie (we'll be seeing it again soon to note the small changes that have been made from the Cannes cut and the new cut, but Quentin has already said it's only one minute longer in running time).
However, something we have coveted in retrospect — because 'Basterds' feels oddly rushed and yet, still too short at 2 hours and 28 minutes — is the longer mini-series version Tarantino talked up in the late 1990s.
At one point, we sort of speculated that since 'Basterds' was five chapters in its current form, it might end up a five or six episode "Band Of Brothers"-like series, but Tarantino also recently said the original beast of a story was 12 episodes. But he also just told the L.A. Times that it was a "16-hour miniseries."
"I put [the idea] away for a while and then thought about doing it as a 16-hour miniseries. I mapped the whole thing out -- with this scene going here, this scene going there -- and I'd still like to do that someday. But what really kicked me in the shins was when I went out and had dinner with Luc Besson. I started talking about how it could be a miniseries and Luc finally said, 'Quentin, that's OK, but you're one of the few filmmakers who makes me want to go to the movies and now you're telling me I'm going to have to wait five years for you to do the miniseries?'"Now that we've finally seen the finished feature-film project, we feel like flipping Luc Besson off. The chat-heavy 'Basterds' would have been much more suited to an episodic structure. Will Quentin likely make the mini-series one day? Knowing his track record of things he would "like" to "one day" make, the answer is probably no, but we do hope he does publish the entire series one day, because we would buy that in a hot minute (really, we're starting to think QT should just be a novelist from here on in).
In revealing some of the original intentions of the longer, mini-series version of 'Basterds,' he also further shed details on the prequels he's been talking up in recent months.
"When I started writing this in 1998, I had a lot of the same characters who are in the movie now, but I had an entirely different storyline, and it just made the movie too big. I had this whole plot where the Basterds had hooked up with a team of black soldiers who'd been court-martialed and they were going after the Nazis together. My real problem was that I couldn't stop writing. The whole project turned into a behemoth. I finally said to myself -- is this a movie or a novel?"That revelation made Tarantino dream up a whole new story, the one that centers on his newer protagonist, Shossana Dreyfus (as played by Melanie Laurent).
"So I took one more shot at making it a movie and I came up with a whole new story, the part that deals with cinema under the Third Reich and the big movie premiere, and I thought, 'That might work -- we've never seen that before in a movie.' "Apparently German actor Martin Wuttke originally turned down Tarantino when the director asked him to play Hitler. "When we met, his first words to me were, 'I'd love to be in your movie, but I'd rather play a schnitzel than play Hitler.' So he turned me down. I didn't see him again until his friends convinced him to meet with me one more time. And I'm really thankful for that, because no one else could have done the part as well.
"Inglourious Basterds" hits theaters August 21. PS: read this Movieline interview with 'Basterds' star Daniel Brühl, cause there's a pretty funny anecdote about the actor saying he bullshit his way into convincing Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender into thinking he could speak fluent French.