Which Will Germans Find More Offensive: ‘Valkyrie’ or ‘Inglorious Bastards’?

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Photo: Courtesy of United Artists; Getty Images

One upcoming big-budget World War II movie features German soldiers being shot, beaten to death with baseball bats, scalped, and getting swastikas carved into their foreheads. Another features Tom Cruise with an eye patch and (please God) a cheesy German accent. The Times of London asks how das Vaterland might feel about Quentin Tarantino's Nazi-baiting Inglorious Bastards and Tom Cruise's Valkyrie. "This is pop culture encountering Nazi Germany and the Holocaust with unprecedented force," Tobias Kniebe, a German film critic, says. "The effects of this collision are utterly unpredictable." (Apparently German film critics are trained to speak only in blurbs.)

This seems a little bit weird to us. Are contemporary Germans really going to have their feelings hurt by a movie in which not a single Nazi "has redeeming value"? We're no expert on the German national temperament, but when we watch movies about how Americans were assholes to, say, the Indians or slaves — to choose two somewhat analogous historical situations — we sort of shrug and say, "Well, we deserve that."

(Achtung! Spoilers ahead!)

But maybe we're wrong. In that case, the question is, which movie will more hurt the Germans' feelings? Well, Valkyrie is about a real-life, failed attempt on Hitler's life; Inglorious Bastards is totally fictional but ends with Hitler and the entire German High Command getting blown to Kingdom Come. If we had to choose between two movies — one about a real-life abolitionist who died before slavery was repealed, and one in which a team of fictional commandos brings down the institution of slavery in one daring, explosive raid — we know which one we'd want to watch.

Hitler to get Pulp Fiction treatment in Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards [Times of London]