Inglourious Basterds is a revenge war film with a lot going on. It takes place in Nazi-occupied France and has two major storylines that ultimately converge. There's Shosanna, who escapes being murdered by "the Jew Hunter," SS Colonel Hans Landa, and eventually comes to own a cinema in Paris. She meets a German soldier who is attracted to her, and he decides that the Nazi propaganda in which he stars should be premiered at her theater. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Aldo Raine and his Basterds, a group of Jewish-American soldiers, are attacking German troops, scalping them, and leaving one survivor with a Swastika carved into his forehead. The Basterds are determined to attend the film premier and hopefully put a stop to the war.
Inglourious Basterds is the first screenplay I've ever read, so I didn't know what to expect. Tarantino's stage directions are very detailed, making it easy to picture the story in my head, but the fact that I saw the movie first probably helped quite a bit in that respect. He gives a lot more description and commentary than I would have expected.
Strangling the very life out of somebody with your bare hands is the most violent act a human being can commit.
Also, only human beings strangle, opposable thumbs being a quite important part of the endeavor. (page 137)It's these kinds of details that really make the screenplay interesting to read. The dialogue also is very clever, and there were several scenes or parts of scenes that weren't in the movie. I can see why they weren't included, as they aren't crucial to the plot, but they were interesting nonetheless.
I enjoyed reading Inglourious Basterds almost as much as I enjoyed watching it. If you're someone who doesn't mind reading graphic violence and would rather read it than watch it, then the screenplay is the way to go. While the violence can be a bit much in Inglourious Basterds (this is Quentin Tarantino, after all), the plot and the characters were so captivating that I could overlook it in this case. As for whether I'd ever read another screenplay, I'm not sure. It's not like reading a novel after watching the movie; with a screenplay, you're essentially reading the movie. But it was totally worth it in this case.
Inglourious Basterds is book 25 for me for the WWII reading challenge at War Through the Generations.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Inglourious Basterds from Hachette for review purposes.