ByClaire Decker, writer at Creators.co

*May contain spoilers*

Read the actual review here http://www.empireonline.com/movies/inglourious-basterds/review/

A Rhetorical Analysis: or, Me Reviewing a Movie Review.

"By now, you’d think that we’d have become accustomed to Quentin Tarantino pulling the rug out from under our feet,” said Chris Hewitt to relate and intrigue his followers in the opening of his August 2009 Empire magazine review of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. After having seen the movie, I compared the film’s contents to Hewitt's claims by reading and analyzing his article. The following evidence, that will be discussed, concluded that Hewitt had a positive response in regard to Inglorious Basterds. When you look at the web page, the first thing to see is the title of his article, a big picture from a scene in the film and Hewitt’s four out of five stars movie rating. Throughout the evaluation of the movie, he describes some of the scenes that demonstrated the film contents that earned it’s four out five-star rating. The language Hewitt uses shows that he was impressed while watching the performance. He encourages the readers of the article to see the movie by subtly using supporting evidence like, its credibility, the aesthetic features of the film, and the well-known director and actors that participated in the making of the movie. Hewitt uses these to prove that it was indeed a motion picture worth seeing.

To show this, I am going to discuss how Hewitt used certain formulaic elements, and focuses on specific scenes in the film, as well as an almost eulogistic word choice, in order to persuade the readers of the article to go and see the movie. The support he uses that I noticed and plan to discuss are Hewitt’s usage of facts, stories and people involved in the filmmaking process that increase the movie’s credibility, Hewitt’s affirmative language that he practices throughout the review, and lastly, how Hewitt relates to the audience thru the text.



To show this, I am going to discuss how Hewitt used certain formulaic elements, and focuses on specific scenes in the film, as well as an almost eulogistic word choice, in order to persuade the readers of the article to go and see the movie. The support he uses that I noticed and plan to discuss are Hewitt’s usage of facts, stories and people involved in the filmmaking process that increase the movie’s credibility, Hewitt’s affirmative language that he practices throughout the review, and lastly, how Hewitt relates to the audience thru the text.



To show this, I am going to discuss how Hewitt used certain formulaic elements, and focuses on specific scenes in the film, as well as an almost eulogistic word choice, in order to persuade the readers of the article to go and see the movie. The support he uses that I noticed and plan to discuss are Hewitt’s usage of facts, stories and people involved in the filmmaking process that increase the movie’s credibility, Hewitt’s affirmative language that he practices throughout the review, and lastly, how Hewitt relates to the audience thru the text.

Hewitt strategically builds the movie’s credibility by using Quentin Tarantino’s past-directed movies, and their success. Hewitt drops the name of two of his big hits, Reservoirs Dogs, and Pulp Fiction, to show that he can relate to his readers and builds value by knowing Tarantino’s past movies. When he mentions the movies he also shows that Tarantino can, and has a history of really shocking his audiences. Hewitt further emphasizes Tarantino’s skill as an artist and a storyteller who defies conventions by calling him “The man who made his name with a heist flick that didn’t actually have a heist in it."

Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction
Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction

Indeed, much of Hewitt’s praise of Tarantino is focused on the way that the director defies audience expectations: “the Basterds themselves,” Hewitt writes regarding the title characters, “barely appear, while Brad Pitt, the ostensible lead, shows up for only three of the movie’s five chapters and doesn’t fire a single shot in anger…” Audiences do not go to a movie expecting the title characters--much less the film’s biggest star--to be largely absent from the film. And yet, for Hewitt, this is good because it is so unexpected.

Much of the acting was very well done, even with far and few spaces in between the Bastard’s screen time, and yet Hewitt continued to add to the authority to the film when he discussed all the famous actors in it. He talks about how everyone brought something to the table, or to the movie should I say. A handful of the characters were cast by foreign actors and they add to the realism and setting of the movie’s plot. The actors from the United States that were cast were not only very popular, but many of them have Oscars and other movie/acting awards. Hewitt uses positive words in regards to describing all of the actors performances, for example when he says that Brad Pitt is “in a role that again defies expectations” and attacks “wonderful dialogue in a thick-as-molasses Kentucky accent that itself might require subtitles from time to time.” Or when Hewitt says, “Hicox with the perfect blend of old-style movie-star charm… and a tougher, rugged edge that deserves to make him a bigger star.” While Hewitt talks highly of the performers he boosts interest in the readers to go see the film. The actors cast in the film were bilingual or had to learn to be for some of their scenes. Hewitt uses that fact to show that it was hard work on the actors part as well -making it a better film- when he says, that they have “one-liners or speeches in English, French, German or even Italian.”

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Hewitt talks about many of the main characters of the film, but Christoph Waltz claimed the best performance. Tarantino stated: “… He'd have abandoned the production entirely had Christoph not Waltzed through his door.” Nonetheless, Hewitt was sure to intrigue his readers with his lively descriptions. In addition, Hewitt shows how Tarantino created a wider range of audience. He shows that Tarantino demonstrated this by, making the sets of the movie realistic and parallel to the times during World War Two; by filming in France, and mostly Germany. By using different spoken languages in central Europe; English, French, German and Italian. And lastly, by relating and talking about certain events that happened in World War Two.

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While creating a wider range of audience, Hewitt mentions that Tarantino uses music that is “wonderfully eclectic soundtrack that revels in anachronisms,” Every song in the movie is “taken from another movie, with Ennio Morricone and Dimitri Tiomkin cuts featuring prominently.” By using many materials such as set, soundtrack, director, actors and more, it gives the reader of the article more of an idea about what the movie is. All the little pieces in the movie broaden the potential viewers, not only does Tarantino now have a cult following for his movies alone, but people interested in foreign themed films and actors, War World Two, lively music, and other elements in the movie are drawing more and more potential interest from different sources. Hewitt also shows that set, soundtrack, director, actors and all the other things that were put into the movie really establish that Tarantino put in his work to make this film one that is worthy of nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, the list goes on and on.

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Additional strategies Hewitt uses to promote the movie’s deserving success are the ways he manipulated his usage of language. I showed a few examples of this when discussing how Hewitt builds credibility throughout the article when he discussed the actors, set and music. However, I only briefly point out when Hewitt treats the audience as if they have already seen Tarantino’s work. He often refers back to previous movies of Tarantino’s, and the reviews strategies that are famous to the director. Words and slang that audiences look for in Tarantino’s dialogue is present in Hewitt’s evaluation. By participating in the ‘lingo’ Hewitt builds the spectators trust and value, his tone brings down the guard and makes the readers feel like he’s a real person. Even as I read, “it becomes quickly apparent that Tarantino’s flipped a bloody middle finger at convention” it felt as if joking around with close friends.

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While constructing the relationship between the author and writer, Hewitt was sure to still be painting visuals of the movie by describing the first scene as a “20-minute conversation between a French farmer who may or may not be sheltering Jews…” another example being a “German Night In Paris, which is packed with dense conversations at the expense of dramatic momentum.”

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By creating landscape visuals the viewers can imagine how great the movie would be in person, and reading it makes the review seem more like a real person is telling you a story, instead of evaluating a film's content. The last lines of the article being: “…as events play themselves out, amidst scenes of fire, chaos, carnage and a haunting image of a laughing face projected onto rolling clouds of smoke, it's hard not to imagine Tarantino sighing contentedly as he introduces his final, most romantic notion: a director playing God.” If Hewitt’s words describing the movie are that good, how much better can the movie get?

To conclude, Hewitt wrote a positive review in August of 2009 on Inglorious Basterds, a movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Hewitt enjoyed the movie and shows that it has credibility through a reliable director, award-winning actors, thought-provoking dialogue, and more. He uses familiar language to relate to the readers, to build their trust, and to make him seem like an approachable normal guy. By painting visuals from different scenes Hewitt attempts to increase the reader’s desire to see the film, and to change their opinion or potential expectations. Hewitt was noteworthy of giving the movie a review it deserved. He was also clever and successful in his strategies to sway a skeptical movie go-er to get in the car and see the movie on the big screen. Now, excuse me while I take his advice and go check out the film myself, you should too.


Have a good one!
Have a good one!

Claire Decker April 21, 2016

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