Watch: How Tarantino Creates Nail-Biting Suspense in ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Here’s how you can emulate Tarantino’s screenwriting, which made the opening sequence of Inglourious Basterds so suspenseful.

Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 take on the “men on a mission genre,” was (very) loosely based on the 1978 film Inglorious Bastards (itself a loose remake of The Dirty Dozen).

Basterds opens with 12 minutes of unrelenting suspense. In the below video essay, Michael Tucker of Lessons from the Screenplay breaks down the 17-page scene and demonstrates how Tarantino crafts such a masterfully suspenseful opening—arguably one of the most effective in recent cinema. (Check out some other great openings.)

“A rich look at a bravura opening sequence, examined through not only the art of light and shadow, but psychology and character.”

Tucker examines the scene through the lens not just of cinema (i.e. the famous Hitchcock example of suspense as the ironic “ticking bomb,” which the audience, not the characters, knows will detonate), but through a rather obscure scholarly essay.

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