Ebullient as usual on stage, Quentin Tarantino met the press today shortly after the overwhelmingly packed first screening of his new film, “Inglourious Basterds” this morning at the Cannes Film Festival. He praised Cannes as the holy land and declared himself god. But, there’s more to the story.
Opening in German-occupied France in 1941, Tarantino’s latest follows a young woman who opens a Paris movie theater after barely escaping the execution of her entire family by the Nazis. Elsewhere, a group of renegade Jewish soldiers band together to capture Nazis, ultimately joining forces with the woman (and her movie theater) to plot the demise of Hitler and his cohorts to end the war.
Asked this morning whether he stands by a previous statement that he loves all of his characters, QT continued the steady stream of auterist language being found here in Cannes this year. Taken out of context (like in our sensational headline above), the quote might seem to rival the recent Lars Von Trier declaration that he is “the best film director in the world.” In this case, Tarantino’s comment was a bit more nuanced.
“I love [my characters] from this god perspective because I am god as far as the characters are concerned, because I created them,” Tarantino said today.
The talk of the film may very well be the role of Nazi Col. Hans Landa, arguably the key character within the ensemble cast. Played by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who practically steals the show, Tarantino explained today that without the right man to play the role, he was ready to scrap the movie.
“I realized that I was writing a pretty impressive character pretty early on,” Tarantino explained, reiterating that finding the right actor was essential to the movie. “There was something very liberating about [being willing to walk away] from it rather than make a compromise.”
Later in the gathering, fellow actor Brad Pitt validated Tarantino’s assertions about authorship, saying, “It’s a real pleasure working for an auteur and something special to come here to the holy land with him.”
Indeed Tarantino is sacred about the hallowed ground of the Cannes Film Festival. A frequent face on the Croisette, Tarantino tackled a question we’ve been pondering here at indieWIRE about whether Cannes (and cinema) matter, and if so, why?
He answered uneqivocally today, “During this time here in the Riviera, cinema matters,” Tarantino said, “It matters, it means something.”
In the case of “Inglourious Basterds,” Tarantino has placed the fate of the world in the hands of renegades who hope to make a difference through the cinema. A movie theater, and film itself, is the means by which The Basterds hope to stop the Nazis.
“The power of cinema is going to bring down the Third Reich,” Tarantino exclaimed.