INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS Fits Perfectly into Quentin Tarantino’s Movie Universe and Influences the Entire Filmography
By now, most Quentin Tarantino fans are aware of the connections interlaced throughout all of his films. John Travolta’s Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction is the brother of Michael Madsen’s Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs, Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White worked with Alabama from True Romance, the plot basis for Kill Bill is described as the synopsis for a TV series in Pulp Fiction, etc.
Now the epiphany that Eli Roth’s character of Donny Donowitz aka “The Bear Jew” in Inglourious Basterds is the father of the movie producer Lee Donowitz in True Romance has inspired a truly mind-blowing theory that the rest of the films (chronologically speaking) in Tarantino’s filmography take place in a world where [Inglorious Basterds spoiler] World War II came to an end when Adolf Hitler was brutally murdered in a movie theater by the Basterds.
This initial connection was brought up in an article on Cracked, but a poster on Reddit (via David Chen’s Twitter) has more eloquently summed up what this means for Tarantino’s movieverse:
As it turns out, Donny Donowitz, ‘The Bear Jew’, is the father of movie producer Lee Donowitz from True Romance – which means that, in Tarantino’s universe, everybody grew up learning about how a bunch of commando Jews machine gunned Hitler to death in a burning movie theater, as opposed to quietly killing himself in a bunker. Because World War 2 ended in a movie theater, everybody lends greater significance to pop culture, hence why seemingly everybody has Abed-level knowledge of movies and TV. Likewise, because America won World War 2 in one concentrated act of hyperviolent slaughter, Americans as a whole are more desensitized to that sort of thing. Hence why Butch is unfazed by killing two people, Mr. White and Mr. Pink take a pragmatic approach to killing in their line of work, Esmerelda the cab driver is obsessed with death, etc. You can extrapolate this further when you realize that Tarantino’s movies are technically two universes – he’s gone on record as saying that Kill Bill and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn take place in a ‘movie movie universe’; that is, they’re movies that characters from the Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and Death Proof universe would go to see in theaters. (Kill Bill, after all, is basically Fox Force Five, right on down to Mia Wallace playing the title role.) What immediately springs to mind about Kill Bill and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn? That they’re crazy violent, even by Tarantino standards. These are the movies produced in a world where America’s crowning victory was locking a bunch of people in a movie theater and blowing it to bits – and keep in mind, Lee Donowitz, son of one of the people on the suicide mission to kill Hitler, is a very successful movie producer. Basically, it turns every Tarantino movie into alternate reality sci fi. I love it so hard.
This is just a delicious little thought experiment. Makes perfect sense.
I don’t entirely buy how deliberate it is - there’s always been something delightfully fluid about the fun Tarantino has with this stuff - and I think a body of work tends to get a lot less fun when this stuff becomes canon rather than cute connected easter eggs.
It isn’t so much a sign of genius as one of geekiness, but it is impressively cool - it only looks that way from the outside, when you look at a body of work this way. It’s actually not so hard for a writer to think in terms of their own personal shared universe as they work - they spend a lot of time with the world, and a lot of time rationalising stuff from it in their head that maybe never makes it into the finished result.
It’s a fun notion, though. Personally, I prefer the teeth that Tarantino’s stories have being set in a hyper-real version of our own world, albeit in the violent sectors of them. Reservoir Dogs is a much more emotionally rich experience if you believe that some people in the warehouse are having a recognisable reaction to Mr Blonde’s excesses.
Jackie Brown also sits way outside this idea - although as an adapted work, that’s maybe understandable.
I do have to call bullshit on one “connection” that sits at the middle of this, which is the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad/Fox Force Five comparison. If anything, including it at the middle of the theory just invalidates the smartness of the whole thing - these two seem similar, but the links are actually so tenuous they don’t bear mentioning. Secret agents aren’t nearly the same thing as assassins - think about how much Charlies Angels has in common with anything where people kill for fun or money ever - and though both teams are five strong, that’s not uncommon in “squad” narratives - three, four and five all allow an aesthetically pleasing spread of demographics.
And there’s a guy in The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
(Hoping I don’t come off as as bad as the person who reblogged with a Comic Book Guy-esque “Ehmmm, I can’t believe nobody else saw this. I noticed this connection when the first teaser posters came out, and thought it was obvious. I guess Tarantino (and I) are way more intelligent and amazing than I ever thought he (we) is.”)