While reading the script, some of the films it reminded me of in different spots included The Train, Von Ryan’s Express, The Guns Of Navarone, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Black Book, Zabriskie Point, The Wizard Of Oz, The Big Lebowski and Defiance.

That’s a neat collection, although I never saw Defiance. I’d be interested in hearing how you connect the dots.

Defiance is included because of the theme of Jews fighting back. Why did you decide to have this all-Jewish unit led by a gentile from the South?

That’s an interesting question. Basically, Aldo’s this character I’ve had in my mind for a very, very long time. So, in a way he came before the Basterds. Furthermore, it’s kind of a two-way proposition, because Aldo had been fighting racism in the South before the war. And if he survives the war, he’s going to continue fighting the Klan in the ‘50s, with his own version of the Basterds in the Tennessee Hills. Also, the fact that he’s part Native American is significant, because what he’s doing against the Nazi’s is similar to the Apache resistance, the ambushing of soldiers, desecrating their bodies and leaving them there for other Germans to find. Aldo’s idea is to find Jewish soldiers because he should be able to motivate them more easily because they are essentially warriors in a holy war against an enemy that’s trying to wipe their race off the face of the Earth.

You have a black character named Marcel [played by Jacky Ido] who works as the projectionist in a movie theater. I’d have guessed that all the blacks in occupied France had been carted off to Concentration camps by the Nazis.

No they weren’t. The relationship between black people and Nazi Germany was very interesting. Part of the reason is that there were so few blacks in Europe that there wasn’t a ‘Black Problem’ per se, the way there was a ‘Jewish Problem.’ So, black people weren’t rounded up in Nazi occupied France. You’d have to keep a low profile, to be sure, but having said that, you’d still enjoy more freedoms there than on the streets of Chicago at the same time period. And far more freedoms than in a state like Alabama.

For instance, you could walk into a restaurant in Paris and sit down and order something. The odd irony in all this is that while there’s no mistaking where Hitler was coming from as far as blacks were concerned, after all, he made that very clear in Mein Kampf, the average German soldier did not feel the same way about black people. In fact, they were absolutely appalled whenever they witnessed the racism exhibited by white American soldiers towards their fellow black soldiers. They couldn’t fathom it, because they believed the hype about America being the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s equally unfathomable that we went to Europe to fight racial oppression with a segregated army. A wonderful paper could be written about all this, and maybe I’ll do that one of these days.

Do you make a cameo appearance in this film, like you have in a lot of your movies?

Not really. I think you can hear my voice a little bit in one of the propaganda movies. [Chuckles]

Why did you spell “Basterds” with an “E” in the title?

I wasn’t trying to be coy or anything, but it was just an artistic stroke.

How did you feel when the picture was so well-received at Cannes, where you got an 11-minute ovation?

Yeah, we got the standing ovation of the Festival. That was really exciting and a lot of fun kind of dropping it on the world there. And I felt a sense of satisfaction because we had worked hard to get the picture finished in time for Cannes.

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