After his experiment with Grindhouse in 2007, which some fans loved and some absolutely hated, Tarantino came back strong with another wild idea—a World War II movie in his typically buoyant style, that would actually be an alternate history film while paying tribute to the wartime espionage movies of the 1960s.
The title refers to a group of U.S. guerilla fighters inserted behind enemy lines well before D-Day to cause as much fear and destruction among the Nazi forces as possible. The men, with the exception of their leader Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), are all of Jewish decent and have a personal stake in killing as many Nazis as they possibly can.
Aldo becomes known as Aldo the Apache, and the legend of the Basterds grows in Germany, until they all have nicknames and nightmare stories attached to them. They routinely scalp their victims and occasionally let one man live to tell the tale, but not before Aldo carves a swastika into their forehead, so they can never remove their Nazi identity.
Alongside this story is the tragic tale of Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), a young Jewish girl whose entire family is killed by a famous Nazi investigator, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) while hiding in a farm house. She alone escapes to occupied Paris where she grows to adulthood running a theater once owned by a woman who took her in. (A lot of this is told quickly through dialog but is much more fleshed out in the original script, which is well worth a read if you're a fan).
When Hitler's minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) decides to screen his new film, "Nation's Pride," in Shosanna's theater, the various threads of the story all come together in two plot to end the war in one night by taking out the entire Nazi high command at once.
Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent)