Hans Landa

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Col. Hans Landa
Inglourious Basterds character
Hans Landa IB 2009.jpg
First appearance Inglourious Basterds
Created by Quentin Tarantino
Portrayed by Christoph Waltz
Information
Aliases The Jew Hunter
Occupation Standartenführer
Nationality Austrian
Allegiance Nazi Germany

Colonel Hans Landa is a fictional character and the main antagonist in the 2009 Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. He is portrayed by German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz.[1] For his performance, Waltz won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and the Best Actor Award at Cannes Film Festival.

Character

Standartenführer (SS Colonel) Hans Landa is an Austrian SS officer assigned to the Sicherheitsdienst. He is nicknamed The Jew Hunter in reference to his keen ability to locate Jews hiding throughout Occupied France. Egotistical and ambitious, Landa takes a great deal of pride in his reputation, lauding his nickname "the Jew hunter" and using it to compare himself to Reinhard Heydrich. When the tide of the war turns against the Nazis, he scoffs at it, alluding that his job is to find and capture people and the fact that they are Jews is of no consequence to him.[2] Landa is cruel, highly intelligent, sadistic, opportunistic, relentless and ruthless but when needed, charming and polite. He uses a very methodical and Holmesian approach in his search for hidden Jews.[citation needed] Besides speaking German, he is also fluent in at least English, French and Italian. He is also sarcastic and seems to have a knowledge, albeit flawed, of English language idioms, such as "That's a Bingo!" or "If the shoe fits, you must wear it".

Landa is an opportunistic sociopath, acting only out of pure self-interest. In the beginning of the film, he subscribes to Nazi ideology as a means to power and wealth, having been a member of the Austrian Nazi party at least since 1934. By the end of the film, he unreservedly breaks his oath to Hitler, and switches sides to assist the Basterds in assassinating Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party elite inside a movie theater. In return for his role in the plot, Landa first demands full immunity for his war crimes, a house on Nantucket Island, a Colonel's military pension, public recognition as an agent working with the American Office of Strategic Services and to be awarded the Medal of Honor (also for Aldo and Utivich).

Landa receives all of his demands, and surrenders himself to Allied captivity as a prisoner of war, but he is still punished for his actions by Lt. Aldo Raine, who carves a swastika into his forehead with a Bowie knife, marking him for life.

Conception and creation

Quentin Tarantino has said that Landa might be the greatest character he has ever written. He originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for the part.[3] The director then decided to have the character played by a German actor.[4] The role ultimately went to Waltz, who, according to Tarantino, "gave me my movie back," as he felt the movie could not be made without Landa as a character but feared the part was "unplayable."[5]

When Waltz auditioned for the role, he had no prior correspondence with Tarantino or producer Lawrence Bender, and believed that the character of Hans Landa was being used during the audition process to cast other roles. Waltz stated that he was most impressed with the dialogue and the depth of the character.[6][7] Waltz describes Landa's character as one who has an understanding of how the world works, stating that the swastika means nothing to him. He adds that he is not driven by ideology, and that if anyone were to call Landa a Nazi, he would clarify that he was not, stating that just because he wears a Nazi uniform does not mean that he believes in the Nazi ideology. In describing the ending between the Basterds and Landa, he describes him as "realistic to the point of being inhuman", adding that he understands that the world is not just one thing at a time, and even though these things may contradict each other, they do not necessarily have to.[6]

Reception

Waltz won the Best Actor Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his performance. Due to his role as Hans Landa, Waltz has received many offers from directors to play roles in their films, enough for him to describe the situation as "wild".[6]

Landa's behavior over the course of the film invokes several of the banality of evil tropes described in Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, particularly with respect to his smooth, businesslike manner when interrogating Perrier LaPadite, and Landa's later statement to Raines and Utvich that he was only a detective doing his job.

Film editor Hunter Stephenson commented that international viewers, Americans more so, would be surprised by Waltz's talent in this role, adding that he expected Waltz to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.[6]

In January 2010, Waltz won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. That same month he won a Screen Actors Guild Award in the same category. On February 2, Waltz was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[8] On February 21, Waltz won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.[9] On March 7, Waltz won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first actor to win an Oscar for a performance in a Quentin Tarantino film.

Analysis

Hunter Stephenson of Slashfilm describes Landa's calabash as an unsubtle metaphor of masculinity, and describes his love of milk as being left over from an age of innocence and a primal link.[6]

Hans Landa has been compared to several other characters in fiction. His "larger-than-life propaganda" and "European sensibility" have been compared to that of a Bond villain (Waltz would eventually play Bond's nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the 2015 film Spectre). Waltz himself has compared the character to Sherlock Holmes, due to the meticulous, cerebral way Landa searches for Jews and traitors. Landa was also compared to Die Hard villain Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman, due to his disdain for the inferior intellect of those around him.[6]

References

  1. ^ Andrew Siddons (October 30, 2009). "Nazis get their comeuppance, in brutal fashion". JooAng Daily. 
  2. ^ Fleming, Michael (2008-08-29). "Kruger, Waltz join Tarantino film". Variety. 
  3. ^ Fleming, Michael (2008-07-15). "Quentin Tarantino seeks 'Bastards'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  4. ^ Fleming, Michael; Tatiana Siegel (2008-08-05). "Eli Roth on deck for 'Bastards'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  5. ^ Tarantino reflects on 'Basterds' Variety, May 17, 2009
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Interview: Christoph Waltz on Playing Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, Working With Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt, and the Legendary Strudel Scene". Slash Film. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  7. ^ "Meet Inglourious Basterd’s Colonel Hans Landa - Christoph Waltz". ATN Zone. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  8. ^ Oscar Nominations
  9. ^ 2010 Film Awards The BAFTA site. 2010-02-21.

Notes

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