Emil Jannings in Inglorious Basterds: A Little Film History

While re-watching Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, I am amazed at the incredible film references and information strewn throughout the film. It is quite like a miniature history lesson of the silver screen, that is if you take the time to look up some of the information.

First, there is the obvious historical fact narrated to the audience by Samuel L. Jackson about how flammable nitrate film was, even including a little clip of a young individual trying to take a film reel onto a public transportation vehicle and being rejected. Then there is the nice little historical figure of Emil Jannings, who Tarantino has at the film premiere. Jannings was a German actor who was fortunate enough to be the first man to receive the Academy Award for best actor and it was also the first Oscar award ever given. Another interesting thing about his presence is that Tarantino re-writes his death. Much like his revised version of Hitler’s death and the end of World War II, Tarantino also make Jannings the first Academy Award winning actor to be fictionally murdered on film. Indeed, this retelling goes under the radar to the obvious historical changes, but now you can be aware of the fact that Jannings was not murdered, rather he died of liver cancer.



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