Hans Landa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hans Landa
Inglourious Basterds character
Hans Landa IB 2009.jpg
First appearanceInglourious Basterds
Created byQuentin Tarantino
Portrayed byChristoph Waltz
AliasThe Jew Hunter
Allegiance Nazi Germany

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


Standartenführer (SS Colonel) Hans Landa is an Austrian SS officer assigned to the Sicherheitsdienst. He is nicknamed "the Jew Hunter" for his uncanny ability to locate Jews hiding throughout Occupied France.

Egotistical and ambitious, Landa takes a great deal of pride in his fearsome 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 intelligent, opportunistic, arrogant, ruthless, and relentless, but can also be circumspect, polite, and even charming. The awards and decorations on his uniform suggest Landa was a member of the Nazi Party during the July Putsch in Vienna in 1934.

Besides speaking German, he is also fluent in at least English, French, and Italian. He is also sarcastic and seems to have 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 opportunist acting only out of pure self-interest. At 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.[citation needed]

By the end of the film, he unreservedly breaks his oath to Adolf Hitler, and switches sides to assist the Basterds in assassinating 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 his driver is shot dead upon delivering Landa. Landa is then directly punished for his actions by Lt. Aldo Raine, who carves a swastika into his forehead with a Bowie knife.

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.[3] The director then decided to have the character played by a German actor.[4] 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".[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 has described 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]


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 tipped Waltz to be nominated an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[6] Waltz was awarded several accolades for his performance, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award in the same category in January 2010. He also won the BAFTA[8] and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first actor to win an Oscar for a performance in a Quentin Tarantino film.


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]

Landa has been compared to several other characters in fiction. 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]


  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.com, 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. ^ 2010 Film Awards Archived 2010-02-28 at the Wayback Machine The BAFTA site. 2010-02-21.