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

Colonel Hans Landa is a fictional character 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.

Character[edit]

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 people hiding throughout Occupied France. Egotistical and ambitious, Landa takes a great deal of pride in this reputation, lauding his nickname at one moment (comparing himself to Reinhard Heydrich) but scoffing at it the next, 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, relentless and ruthless, but, when needed, charming and polite. He uses a very methodical and Holmesian approach in his search for hidden Jews. 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 appears to be 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 (possibly even having taken part in the assassination of Engelbert Dollfuss.) But 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. For his role in the plot, Landa demands full immunity for war crimes, a house on Nantucket Island, a Colonel's military pension, public recognition as an operative working with the American Office of Strategic Services and to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Ultimately, Landa is punished for his actions by Lt. Aldo Raine, who carves a swastika into his forehead with a Bowie knife, ironically marking the apolitical careerist as a Nazi for life.[3]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Landa appears to be the recipient of several high awards and decorations of Nazi Germany. He is seen wearing the Blood Order, the Golden Party Badge and the Honour Chevron, indicating either long Nazi party membership, special services rendered to the party or personal commendation by Adolf Hitler. On his dinner dress uniform seen in Chapter 3, he is seen wearing the Golden Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords, the highest possible grade of this order.[N 1] A listing of Hans Landa's decorations are as follows:

Conception and creation[edit]

Quentin Tarantino has said that Landa might be the greatest character he has ever written. He originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for the part.[4] The director then decided to have the character played by a German actor.[5] The role ultimately went to the Austrian 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."[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[7]

The character Col. Hans Landa was named after one of Tarantino's repeat customers when he worked at Video Archive, a now defunct video rental store in Manhattan Beach.[citation needed] The customer, Hans Landa, was an Austrian immigrant. Tarantino bonded with Landa over their mutual love of foreign films. Upon hearing of Landa's death, Tarantino paid his respects to him by naming the character after him.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

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".[7]

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.[7]

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, which he won on March 7.[9] On February 21, Waltz won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.[10]

Analysis[edit]

Hunter Stephenson of /film describes Landa's calabash as an unsubtle metaphor of masculinity, and describes his love of milk as being leftover from an age of innocence and a primal link.[7]

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 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.[7]

References[edit]

  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. ^ Cox, David (August 20, 2009). "Inglourious Basterds Is Cinema's Revenge On Life". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  4. ^ Fleming, Michael (2008-07-15). "Quentin Tarantino seeks 'Bastards'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  5. ^ Fleming, Michael; Tatiana Siegel (2008-08-05). "Eli Roth on deck for 'Bastards'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  6. ^ Tarantino reflects on 'Basterds' Variety, May 17 2009
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "Meet Inglourious Basterd’s Colonel Hans Landa - Christoph Waltz". ATN Zone. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  9. ^ Oscar Nominations
  10. ^ 2010 Film Awards The BAFTA site. 2010-02-21.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Golden Knight's Cross of the War Merit Cross was never awarded with swords during World War II. Only two awards were ever made and both of these were without swords, and both only at the very end of the war on 20 April 1945.
  2. ^ This decoration was only bestowed on non-German members of the Germanic-SS