In Quentin Tarantino’s final draft of the script for Inglourious Bastards (2009), French farmer Pierre LaPadite has a wife, Shosanna urinates on herself during her conversation with Col. Landa at Maxim’s Cafe, and Sgt. Donny Donowitz and Private Omar do not machine gun Hitler. There are a number of differences between the script and the film of Inglourious Bastards. This article will summarize the differences and assess the reasons why some elements of the final draft are not in the film.
It took Tarantino over a decade to complete the final draft of Inglourious Bastards. The story kept expanding with no end in sight, to the point where Tarantino started to succumb to the idea of turning the script into a miniseries for television. However, we are fortunate that director Luc Besson was able to convince Tarantino to keep Inglourious Bastards as a feature film. As a result of Tarantino’s prolific writing, the story and characters in Inglourious Bastards are rich and complex.
There are moments in the final script where we can see extended storylines for various characters. For example, in Chapter 2, a flashback reveals that Sgt. Donny Donowitz, aka The Bear Jew, worked as a barber in Boston before being drafted. Donny rants to a barbershop patron:
Next, Donny buys the heaviest baseball bat at his local sporting goods store and visits an elderly Jewish woman in his neighborhood named Mrs. Himmelstein and has her write the names of her Jewish family members in Europe on the bat. The two drink tea in the scene.
At 2:21 of the video below, Eli Roth is sitting on a couch drinking a cup of tea. So it is clear that the scene was filmed, but did not make the final cut.
Cloris Leachman played the character Mrs. Himmelstein.
Additionally, there is no mention in the script of Donny waiting in a dark cave banging his baseball bat against the wall until he is called by Aldo to beat German Sgt. Rachtman to death, as he does in the film. In the script, all the Bastards, including Donny, sit in a circle around the two remaining German soldiers. The decision to alter the blocking of the scene was likely made after selecting the location. The choice to have Donny emerge from the cave is very cinematic and gives the Bear Jew a greater mystique.
The character Madame Ada Mimieux, the original owner of the petit Le Gamaar cinema and Shosanna’s savior, is absent from the film, but she is ever-present in the script. In the script, Chapter 3 “German Night in Paris” opens with Shosanna sitting in the cinema auditorium wearing a nurse’s uniform and watching a Bridget von Hammersmark film “Madcap in Mexico”.
In the film, Chapter 3 starts with Shosanna changing the letters of the cinema marquee and the title card reads...
Madame Mimieux confronts Shosanna who lingers in the cinema auditorium after all the cinema patrons have left. After some persuading by Shosanna, Madame Mimieux agrees to take Shosanna in and teach her how to operate the cinema projectors. There is an additional scene in the script but not the film in which Madame Mimieux slaps Shosanna for lighting a cigarette while operating a nitrate film print in the projection booth. The scene in the film in which the narrator (Samuel L. Jackson) describes the flammability of nitrate film is not in the script and was surely a necessary addition because of the elimination of the slapping scene with Shosanna and Madame Mimieux. The script also reveals a more explicit romantic relationship between Shosanna and Marcel.
The scenes with Madame Mimieux were also filmed, but did not make the final cut. Maggie Cheung played the role. Tarantino explained the reason why the scenes with Maggie were cut in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes: "It was literally a situation where we did the scene, and she was wonderful in the scene, but when we were cutting the movie together we realised we didn't need the scene. Not only wasn't it essential to chronicle Shosanna's first years in Paris before we see her again, it was kinda the opposite of what I would normally do. To describe how Shosanna survived is a movie unto itself. So I'd rather leave that to the viewer, for them to make that movie in their head. I've given you a little signpost, to how she could have done what she did, but I'd like to leave it open to your imagination. 'Cause you're either going to tell it or you're not going to tell it."
In the film, Chapter 1 ends with Shosanna running from Col. Landa and the LaPadite farm into the surrounding forest. In the script however, there is an additional scene at the end of Chapter 1 in which Col. Landa speaks to his driver Herrman as they drive away from the LaPadite farm house. Herrman asks Landa why he did not shoot Shosanna and Landa explains that he doubts Shosanna poses a real threat to the Nazi state. Little did he know. The scene was also presumably filmed and deleted in the final cut. FUN FACT: The driver’s name is not actually Herrman. Landa calls all his subordinate men Herrman.
The scene below is in the script, but not the film, and teaches the audio-visual film syncing process:
The differences between the film and the script mentioned thus far have been scenes in the script that were either deleted in the final cut or potentially not filmed. But there are some plot elements in Inglourious Bastards that were altered while translating the script to film.
In Chapter 4 of the film, Col. Landa discovers Bridget von Hammersmark is a double agent when he finds the napkin von Hammersmark signed and kissed for Nazi soldier Wilhelm’s newborn. But in the script, a still-alive, though wounded Wilhelm is questioned by Col. Landa in a hospital. This is revealed in a thought bubble while Landa looks out over the cinema auditorium during the reception for “Nation’s Pride” in Chapter 5.
As mentioned above, in the script for Inglourious Bastards, Sgt. Donny Donowitz and Private Omar don’t shoot Hitler. In fact, there is no Private Omar in the script. Instead of Private Omar, in the script Hirschberg - played in film by Samm Levine of Freaks and Geeks - is the third Bastard to pose as an Italian alongside Aldo Raine and Donny. Instead of leaving the cinema to shoot Hitler in the middle of “Nation’s Pride”, in the script Donny goes to a water closet in the basement of the cinema to set the timer to his dynamite. While in the bathroom stall, Donny spots a swastika marked German soldier - a living victim of the Bastards. The Nazi sees Donny as well and the two shoot each other to death in front of ten other Nazi soldiers. The cinema audience doesn’t register the gunshots over the sound of “Nation’s Pride,” but Fredrick, who at that very moment is advancing on Shosanna in the projection booth, does hear the gunshots and turns around, at which point Shosanna withdraws her pistol and shoots Fredrick in the back. In the film, Shosanna feigns seduction in order to get Fredrick to turn around so she can withdraw her pistol. And after Fredrick shoots Shosanna, it appears as though her revenge plan has been spoiled because there is no one alive to change the reels of “Nation’s Pride.” In the script there is a dramatic, slow-motion scene in which Shosanna makes the switch from the third to the fourth reel before collapsing dead on the projection booth floor. And after Shosanna’s revenge speech plays on the big screen, the explosives Col. Landa plants in Hitler’s opera box explode, killing Hitler and Goebbels, then Hirschberg’s dynamite explodes, killing everyone in the cinema, and then Donny’s bomb explodes, imploding the cinema.
The drastic changes between the Inglourious Bastards script and film in the climactic moments of Chapter 5 were likely made before filming. If the film mirrored the script, there would not be a scene in which Donny and Omar ambush Hitler’s opera box and proceed to rain gunfire upon the Third Reich with Nazi machine guns. It is much more satisfying to see the Bastards shoot Hitler to shreds than it is to have Landa’s dynamite placement kill Hitler.
According to Samm Levine, his character Hirschberg, who is the only alive Bastard in Chapter 4 and not present in Chapter 5 of the film, survives the film. Apparently, Tarantino wrote a scene in which Hirschberg meets up with Aldo Raine and Utivich after they settle their deal with Col. Landa. The scene was not filmed.
Here is a list of interesting facts about Inglourious Bastards you can learn by reading the script:
- Lt. Aldo Raine’s neck has a rope burn from surviving a lynching.
- The Bastards hang German scalps they have removed from the heads of dead Nazis on their belts. (If you look closely when watching the film, you will be able to see the scalps on the Bastards’ belts.)
- Fredrick tells Shosanna about how when growing up he helped operate a cinema called KinoHaus along with his six sisters.
- The narrator describes how Goebbels’ French assistant Francesca was Goebbels’ favorite French actress to appear in his films. The script includes a scene from one of Goebbels’ productions titled “Sentimental Combat” in which Francesca declares her love for a German soldier.
- Goebbels slapping Frederick Zoller with his serviette is a funny gag in the film, but it is not in the script. It was likely an improvisation by Sylvester Groth, the actor playing Goebbels.
- Lt. Archie Jicox, played in the film by Michael Fassbender, is described in the script as “a young George Sanders type (“The Saint” and “Private Affairs of Bel Ami” years).” Ed Fenech, played in the film by Mike Myers, is described as “an older George Sanders type (“Village of the Damned”).”
- A description in the script states that any Basterd who is not present when Chapter 4 begins is already dead.
- After shooting Willi at the end of the tavern bloodbath, Bridget von Hammersmark says to the Basterds “He was an enemy soldier who knew who I was. He couldn’t live.”
- In the script, during the reception for the “Nation’s Pride” premiere, Col. Landa introduces Shosanna to Bridget von Hammersmark and the three Italian-speaking Basterds. In the film, Shosanna never speaks to any of the Basterds.
- In the script, Hans Landa remove Bridget’s shoe from his bag himself, instead of asking Bridget to do it.
- Aldo Raine headbutting Landa after Landa pokes him in the face through over the bag on Aldo’s head is not in the script.
- Tarantino describes the close up of Shosanna in her film for the Nazis as being like Big Brother in Orwell’s “1984”
- In the script but not the film, four subtitles appear in succession after the cinema explodes:
- “Operation Kino A Complete Success”
- “Hitler Dead. Goebbels Dead. Bormann Dead. Goering Dead. Zoller Dead. Most of the High Command Dead.”
- “Four Days Later, Germany Surrenders.”
- “Once Upon a Time In Nazi… Occupied France.”
In large part, the final film of Inglourious Basterds is not significantly different from the script. Some of the differences arise from the fact that extraneous dialogue was cut to shorten the film to 150 minutes and maintain its snappy pace. There were also changes in the film’s plot relative to the script that don’t affect the story, such as who did what to destroy the cinema in Chapter 5 or how Landa uncovered Bridget von Hammersmark as a double agent.
The Inglourious Basterds script is signature Tarantino; however the music, humor and unique attention to stylistic violence in the Inglourious Basterds film is not fully evident in the script, and it is these aspects of the film which make it uniquely Tarantino.
Check out these extended and deleted scenes of Inglourious Basterds: