Tarantino’s ‘kosher porno’ thrills Germany

While US-director Quentin Tarantino’s new Jewish revenge film “Inglourious Basterds” has garnered mixed reviews elsewhere, German critics are exalting the bloody fantasy as a cathartic departure from typical World War II films.

Tarantino's 'kosher porno' thrills Germany
Photo: DPA

Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel wrote this week that after 65 years of portraying Nazis with “shuddering obeisance before evil,” Tarantino’s explosive film is “Catharsis! Oxygen! A wonderful retro-futuristic frenzy of fantasy!”

Average German cinema-goers also seemed bowled over at the premiere in Berlin on Thursday evening, roaring with laughter and applause throughout the film.

“It felt so good to finally say, ‘Kill! Kill all the Nazis!’” a 20-year-old student raved as he left Berlin’s CineStar theatre.

Set “Once upon a time,” in occupied France, two parallel plot lines focus on Jews exacting bloodthirsty revenge for the Holocaust by assassinating Hitler at a propaganda film premiere in Paris. While a band of renegade American-Jewish soldiers led by Brad Pitt called “The Basterds” hunts and mercilessly kills Nazi soldiers behind enemy lines, an outwardly meek French Jew living under an assumed identity plots a fiery revenge for her family’s death.

The script, inspired by Italian director Enzo Castellari’s 1978 movie “The Inglorious Bastards,” features Tarantino’s typically witty dialogue and cartoonish violence – but German critics are most fascinated by how it challenges standard Nazi film constructs and archetypes.

Nazis speaking German

Tarantino’s insistence on the authentic use of language – there are no Nazi officers speaking with British accents here – led him to cast a pack of top-notch German and French actors who are largely unknown abroad.

They speak in their native German, French and English – a refreshing tactic that elevates the importance of language in cinema to a “new level,” daily Die Welt gushed on Friday, insisting that Germans see the original, not the German-dubbed version of the film.

“Tarantino’s insatiable, prejudice-free curiosity for the details makes him a model globaliser,” the paper said, adding that, “German (and in general, European) pop culture profits from this.”

Whether a character lives or dies in the film hinges on language skills, and arguably the strongest character is SS Colonel Hans Landa, a.k.a. “The Jew Hunter,” whose fluent French, English and Italian skills help him uncover the Jews’ murderous plot. Austrian actor Christoph Waltz won best actor at the Cannes Film Festival this year for his elegantly sinister portrayal of the character, and German critics have raved that he stole the show from Hollywood darling Brad Pitt.

Meanwhile the monolingual American characters find themselves in a pickle due to their lack of language skills. At one point double agent and German actress Bridget von Hammersmark, played by a flinty Diane Kruger, asks: “I know this is a silly question before I ask it, but do you Americans speak any other language than English?”

The film’s focus on accents and linguistic ability underlies frequent references to ethnic and national stereotypes. There is a fascinating interplay between Pitt’s character, who has Native American ancestry, and demands his soldiers bring him “100 Nazi scalps,” and German characters who later reference one of their most legendary pulp fiction characters, an idealised Native American Noble Savage character called “Winnetou.”

During this scene actress von Hammersmark insists that just because Winnetou was created by German author Karl May doesn’t mean he’s not an American character – mirroring the American director’s choice to turn the standard lamb-at-the-slaughter portrayal of Jewish Holocaust victims on its head.

Kosher porn?

Instead, the film is what Eli Roth, who played the most savage member of The Basterds, Boston Jew Donny Donowitz, told the LA Times is “kosher porno.”

Styling Jewish characters to retaliate against their brutal oppressors is certainly daring, but German critics are loving it.

“Many are asking the question: is this allowed? Can someone portray Jews as killers who also have fun with their murderous work?” German-Israeli publicist Rafael Seligmann wrote in news magazine Stern, referring to ongoing trauma to second and third-generation descendants of Holocaust victims.

“When the Jews are in that position, they behave the same as all others. They defend themselves, they attack,” Seligman wrote, adding that had Jews been better armed during the war, the few known resistance movements may have been more successful. “They didn’t become better people through Auschwitz. They learned much more to defend themselves.”

The film levels the playing field for Jews and Nazis, he says, showing that the violent revenge of the helpless is “all too human.”

And after this revelation, “Pope Quentin” goes on to manifest the “biggest exorcism of all,” daily Die Welt opined.

“He manages finally to send this Hitler to the devil in a way besides suicide,” the paper said. “Historic accuracy is a virtue, but fantasy brings liberation.”

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Why these three German cities offer the ‘best work-life balance’

It's not easy to balance work with your personal life – but new research has found three German cities are particularly good at helping their residents get the best of both worlds.

Why these three German cities offer the 'best work-life balance'
A view of Munich from the rooftops. Photo: Depositphotos/[email protected]

Security experts Kisi analyzed 40 cities worldwide in a bid to find out whose residents have the most well-rounded work-life balance, in terms not only of work intensity, but also their livability and the well-being and rights of citizens.

And they found Munich had one of the best scores compared to cities across the world. Two other cities in the Bundesrepublik are also in the top 10.

Researchers looked at a series of factors related to the amount of time a person dedicates to their job – such as total working hours, commuting, and holiday days taken.

They then evaluated residents' access to state-funded health and welfare programmes, as well as institutional support for gender equality and friendliness toward the LGBT+ community. 

Lastly, researchers determined each city’s livability score by examining citizens’ overall happiness, safety, and access to wellness and leisure venues, which allowed them to assess whether their residents can enjoy their environment after office hours.

Which cities came out on top?

In Germany, Munich, Hamburg and Berlin all ranked in the top 10 of the most livable cities.

READ ALSO: The ultimate guide to living on a budget in Munich

But Helsinki in Finland received the highest rating overall. In fact, the Finnish capital is the only city to achieve a satisfaction score of 100. It also received an overall score of 100. That's down to a number of factors.

People who work full time in Finland spend a comparatively low 40.2 hours a week at the workplace, plus holiday entitlement starts at 30 days per year. Employees also get a total of 1,127 days of paid parental leave.

Health care is also above average, with Helsinki ranked sixth behind Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Milan and Oslo on that point, with 86.7 out of 100 points. Helsinki ranks even better (fourth place) in terms of green spaces. The Finnish city with 630,000 citizens is also deemed very good in terms of safety, with 93.3 out of 100 points.

Here's the top 10 cities with the best work-life balance according to the study:

Graph produced by Statista for The Local.

Munich has very low unemployment

After Helsinki comes Munich, in the south of Germany, which scored 98.32 points overall. In the Bavarian capital, people have to work a little longer (41 hours a week), but the unemployment rate is much lower than in Helsinki (2.3 to 6.9 percent).

The average arrival time for workers in Munich is 8.46am and the commuting time (one way) is 27 minutes.

Germany fares worse on holiday entitlement as employees have to make do with a minimum of 20 holiday days per year. However, workers in Munich take on average 29.7 days a year off.

Meanwhile, parents are entitled to 406 days of paid leave.

Health care in Germany also receives a lower score than in Helsinki (83.1 points, 12th place). Access to mental healthcare receives a lower score of 53.7 points.

All three German cities scored a happiness rating of 92.7 points out of 100.

Munich is deemed particularly safe – it scored 94.8 points (fourth place in this category). Meanwhile city stress gets a comparatively low score of 15.8 in Munich.

It's not surprising that Munich is so high up in the list. A recent study found Munich has the highest quality of life in Germany.

READ ALSO: Three German cities ranked in the top 10 places to live

Hamburg third lowest stress score

A view of Hamburg. Photo: Depositphotos/SergiyN

With a total of 93.57 points, Hamburg is fourth in the list. The Hanseatic city had the third lowest stress rating (20.4) after Munich and Sydney.

In Hamburg employees also have to work 41 hours a week on average, and the city has an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent.

Workers in Hamburg arrive to work on average at 9.32am and the commuting time (one way) is 29.5 minutes. When it comes to vacation days, Hamburg employees take on average 29.6 days off a year.

The safety score in Hamburg is a bit lower than Munich at 89.4.

Late start to work in Berlin

The Oberbaumbrücke in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In terms of work-life balance, Berlin ranks sixth among the most livable cities. Germany's capital has a total of 88.92 points overall.

The average arrival time to work for Berlin employees is 9.53am – quite a bit later than the other German cities (although people in Washington DC, Hong Kong and Houston all start work slightly later according to the research).

The average commuting time (one way) is 32.2 minutes and the city stress score is much higher than in the other German cities at 45.7.

The unemployment rate is comparatively high in Berlin at 6.1 percent (34th place in the list). On the other hand, Berlin has a high leisure score rating (82.9 points, 8th place).

The safety rating for the Hauptstadt is 90.7 (13th position in this category compared to the other cities).

Which cities have the worst work-life balance?

The most overworked cities according to the ranking are Tokyo, Singapore, Washington DC, Kuala Lumpur and Houston.

In the study, the US was the only country not to offer paid annual leave at the government level. The study found that employees took an average of just 10 days off – still scoring better than cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong where the average was seven days.

The study pulled statistics and research from data provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Eurostat, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organisation, among others.

The research aims to shine a light on work-life balance, government policies and infrastructure.

What do you think about the work-life balance in Germany? Let us know: [email protected]