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Interesting Behind The Scenes Article


i read an interesting article in the german “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. Who is able to read german can find it here:

For the others i have tried to translate it into english as good as possible for me:

Cannes 2009 – this is the year of the german-speaking actors. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, mainly Christoph Waltz is getting celebrated.

This Story doesn’t play on the screen, rather behind the scenes, but however it is one of the most exciting ones that were told this year in Cannes. Once upon a time… in „Basterds“-occupied Berlin.

To be more precise, it was in August of the past year. Quentin Tarantino was already in the city for weeks and decided that the germans in his films will not be casted with british, swedish or dutch actors. German speakers, please. So far, so good for Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger, August Diehl, Gedeon Burkhard etc., but in spite of their feverishly seeking they couldn’t find a matching cast for the most important opponent of his „Inglourious Basterds“, SS-Officer Hans Landa.

„We were five days away from cancelling the whole project“ told Tarantino in Cannes, with his fateful Tremolo still remaining in his voice. „The deadline was set and she felt liberating: no lame compromises! I would instead prefer to easily publish the Script as a book.“

However, the next day, Christoph Waltz, 52, born in Vienna, a totally unknown person to the americans, came into the studio and into Tarantino’s life. As he began to speak the first perfectly polite, perfectly threatening sentences of the „Jew Hunter“ Landa, there were flying surprised, meaningful and finally triumphing looks through the room. „I saw Quentins Face and knew: We are making this thing!“ remembers the Producer Lawrence Bender.

„Christoph gave me my film back“, said Tarantino. And to this moment it is sure: Cannes 2009 is also the year of the german-speaking actors.

In the meantime the hero of the story is sitting on the terrace of the famous Carlton Hotel. Sharp side parting, sharp-cut Face, sharp-cut sports coat. Increased vigilence in his eyes. The Nerves are already a bit overstrung. The premiere is only one day away, the movie, that he seemingly rescued, Christoph Waltz doesn’t know it yet.

But about the role he is able to talk very well. „It is a century role“, does he say quite simply. „So it is not bad for a medium, which is barely older than hundred years.“ And already this amused, lightly demonic expression in his eyes, which relativates such statements immediately, flashes up. „Even the biggest retard couldn’t beat this role up, because Landa is so brilliantly written“.

And there had to be some fate on the work. You can recognize this on a half-sentence in the screenplay, where Landa is talking about his „Austrian Alps“. For his creator he was austrian from the very beginning. Landa has, like Waltz, good manners. He likes to kiss the hand. He likes to eat Strudel, but please with cream. Even though Quentin Tarantino wrote this multilingual master of terror in english, Waltz discovered more in this dialogue sentences than just a quantum of austrian word-wrestling.

„In the lines, where the character is speaking german, we austrified the translation a little bit“, he said. „And immediately the voice had a completely different melody, was a quantum jump nearer to the typical Tarantino-sound. What this man writes, swings. And the Austrian accent swings just better than the german“

High over Waltz, on the facade of the hotel there are „Basterds“-Advertisments hanging. One of it shows a grimly looking Til Schweiger, another one the glamorous styled Diane Kruger, a german actress, who is living in Paris and already gets star roles in France and the USA. „Til Schweiger is a Basterd“, is the message – here are not hanging the Nazis, but the Nazi hunters of the film.

At the beginning of the festival, when the message about which faces where picked for the Carlton leaked through to Berlin, the idea of the whole campaign wasn’t so clear, and the fact, not to be on one of them, made Christoph Waltz and Daniel Brühl reacting panically.

Brühl is playing Frederik Zoller, a german charmer in occupied Paris who loves cinema, but is by the way a deadly sniper, who is getting established to a hero by the nazi propaganda. „You think that your most important scenes were cut out, that you’ve messed it up totally.“

Brühl is sitting on a little balcony of the Grand Hotel with a view over the bay of Cannes. Young filmmakers from various countries are drinking the fridge of the producer Claus Boje from Berlin empty, it’s nearly four o’clock.

Brühl also hasn’t seen the film yet, but meanwhile he is relaxed. He met the Master on a Party, there was a big hug and a solemn assertion that he didn’t cut any of his scenes.

The day after the premiere the germans have really become an important topic of conversation – most of all Christoph Waltz. „Is that the German everybody’s talking about?“, asks a gay british gossip reporter while Waltz is walking the red carpet. „He looks like Robert Redford!“ Tarantino, in front of him, is doing a wild Twist with his french main actress Melanie Laurent, and then theres August Diehl there, who also plays a mean SS-Mann.

On the podium of the press conference he was still missing, Brad Pitt personally raised the glass on him: „Congratulations to your Baby, August!“ Diehl just became father. Really glorious, this new, international family feeling of the „Basterds“-Band. Tarantino and the german film subsidy made it possible, now it’s allowed to celebrate. Once again Pitt: „These Germans, man – they had it down.“

The Master of this universe still remains Tarantino, an inspiring and just as well punishing, brilliant and just as well moody god. As he got his role, Waltz again aspirated every sentence, every setting of the tarantino work and made a decision: „It is not about to show your abilities, or to make the character to your own. It was about to serve for a great artist and forget anything else. It felt, to be honestly, phantastic“

Who was not able to be that wise, had to suffer, like Til Schweiger, who was held days unengaged at the set. Or the psychodrama of the last take: Tarantino insisted to direct the camera himself, stepped back and left the room without saying a word until a surprised assistent finally shouted „cut“. To that time the master was already on it’s way to the airport. No praise, no goodbye, no party, left alone were crying actors and a distracted team.

Only Christoph Waltz shows himself untouched of those antics. His calmness has almost something sardonic. „You have to take it as it is, and be ready to sometimes turn off the thinking when working with Tarantino. If not, you’re stupid.“

Hi, you can just post this in the Coverage thread if you’d like just. I think most of what is said here already made its way in there over the last few weeks. I think Seb also posted this article on the German board recently… :slight_smile: