Rachel Maddow‘s MSNBC interview with Quentin Tarantino begins with a clip from the infamous Donny Donowitz baseball-bat scene (i.e., the one I took great exception to last August), and then with Maddow smiling and chuckling and seeming to say “hey, Quentin, very cool” and so on, as if she’s heartily approving of (or is certainly cool with) the scene.
“The scene in which Inglourious Basterds starts to smell rancid is one in which Brad Pitt and the Basterds — a ragtag group of Jewish soldiers conducting guerilla-style search-and-destroy missions throughout German-occupied territory — interrogate a captured German soldier. He is Sgt. Werner Rachtman (Richard Sammel).
“The bottom line is that Pitt and Eli Roth, who plays Sgt. Donowitz (a.k.a., ‘the “Bear Jew”), behave like butt-ugly sadists in this scene while Sammel behaves like a man of honor, character and dignity.
“Tarantino has Sammel defy Pitt by saying ‘fuck you and your Jew dogs’ so it’ll seem right and fair that an anti-Semite gets his head beaten into mashed potatoes with a baseball bat. But what speaks louder is (a) Sammel’s expression, which is clearly that of a man of intelligence and perception, (b) his eyes in particular, which have a settled quality that indicates a certain regular-Joe decency, and (c) his refusal to give Pitt information about nearby German troops that would lead to their deaths if he spilled.
“Isn’t this is what men of honor and bravery do in wartime — i.e., refuse to help the enemy kill their fellow soldiers, even if it means their own death?
“Compare this anti-Semitic but nonetheless noble fellow with the smug and vile Pitt, who does everything but twirl this moustache as he contemplates the delicious prospect of seeing blood and brain matter emerge from Rachtman’s head.
“And then comes a protracted and tedious build-up in which we hear Roth’s baseball bat banging against the stone walls of a darkened tunnel as he approaches the daylight and Sgt. Rachtman, who is kneeling next to Pitt. Whack, whack, whack, whack. Forever, interminably. Only a director who has truly lost his bearings would make an audience listen to that sound this much — 14, 15 times. And then Roth finally comes out of the tunnel and beats Rachtman to death. And then he screams and shouts with joy, going all ‘whee!’ and ‘yeah!’ and all right!”
“This is one of the most disgusting violent scenes I’ve ever sat through in my entire life. Morally disgusting, I mean.”