The tavern scene from Tarantino’s 2009 masterpiece Inglorious Basterds was a delight to cineasts and film lovers alike. Despite it turning into a bloodbath within minutes, Tarantino used brilliant techniques and subtle camera angles to fill every corner of the scene we are experiencing.
Let’s start with the key turning point when Lt Hicox (Michael Fassbender) puts up the wrong three fingers, giving away his cover to Major Hellstrom (the one in black.)
As you can see below Tarantino used three shots just for the three fingers Michael Fassbender holds up.
Looking at this gif, Hellstrom’s head cocks immediately when Fassbender raises the three fingers telling the audience that something is wrong.
Notice how the camera angle was placed so specifically, so we can see what Lt Hicox’s mistake was (Michael Fassbender) and Hellstrom’s reaction.
However as Hicox looks up again, immediately Hellstrom gazes away again to remove suspicion.
The quick shot of the bartender slowly cocking his rifle, shows us that he’s been listening closely to their conversation, and he knows Hicox is a spy.
Unlike that of the other party, still drinking on the other table as we can see with this shot. Notice how they don’t react when Stigliz (the one on the right who is working for the americans) places his pistol onto the crotch of Hellstrom, because they are oblivious.
Hellstrom’s gaze remains fixed upon Hicox’s to show he is in control and even when Hicox commands him to leave with him, Hellstrom remains seated because he knows he has the leverage (even if he has two guns pointed at his testicles…) This is shown by his dominant position to indicate he has leverage.
What follows is a quick succession of shots ending with a blood splattered room…