13 December 2009 @ 11:42 pm
Film analyzation = Fun for me, part 1.  
Shosanna Dreyfus and Fredrick Zoller are my absolute favorite Tarantino characters, so it seemed only logical that I analyze them and their scenes to death. Lots of screencaps, script excerpts, quotes from QT, Daniel and Mélanie, along with all of my rambling. I made certain to be as thorough as possible and hopefully those of you who read it will enjoy it.

Fredrick Zoller and Shosanna Dreyfus had left an indelible mark upon me after my first viewing of Inglourious Basterds; seeing them die together on the floor of the projection booth to Un Amico, Ennio Morricone's ode to undying love and friendship, knocked the wind out of me and left me haunted. At first, I argued with myself over how I felt, as the general response from my friends and filmgoers was,

"He was a sociopathic Nazi. He deserved it."

I attempted to see it from their perspective, but it did not feel right to me. I was fully entertained by the exploits of Hugo Stiglitz, the Bear Jew, and Archie Hicox; I was moved by Shosanna's plight and was appropriately outraged by Hans Landa, yet I still couldn't shake my sadness over Shosanna and Fredrick. I would see Inglourious Basterds two more times the following week, analyzing them carefully on my second viewing and fully embracing how I felt by the third. In between viewings, however, I was helped along with the influence of Quentin Tarantino, who, I discovered after much googling, was very much enamored with Shosanna/Fredrick himself; comparing them to Romeo and Juliet at every turn and even declaring them to be his tragic lovers. While every work of art is open to interpretation, I found knowing Tarantino's intent extremely important, especially taking into consideration the film's subject matter. It was then that I realized it was okay for me to feel the way I do, as that was the reaction Tarantino wanted. I'm not one to get terribly invested in 'OTP's and the like, as I'm more content with reading well-written fic and then setting it aside. However, Shosanna and Fredrick have become my favorites out of all of Tarantino's characters, and they are, as far as I'm concerned, a fantastically cast, well-constructed, subtle romance. And as we know, romance, Tarantino-style, has never been simple, yet it is always powerful.


As we're aware, Tarantino has spent over 10 years working on the script for Inglourious Basterds and he took precious care with casting his characters. It was in 2003 that Tarantino found his Fredrick Zoller after seeing Daniel Brühl as Alexander Kerner in Good Bye Lenin!, but it wasn't until years later that Quentin would contact him to audition for the role of Fredrick Zoller. Daniel's audition consisted of him, Tarantino, and producer Lawrence Bender, with Quentin reading the part of Shosanna Dreyfus. Though not entirely fluent in French at that point, Daniel thought on his feet and improvised with Spanish.

After winning the part, Daniel was flown to Paris, as the casting of Shosanna depended upon the actress's chemistry with him. There he met with a group of French actresses who were up for the part; it was with Mélanie that Daniel shared a palpable chemistry, and he even went so far as to tell Tarantino that she was the one for the role of Shosanna.

Tarantino himself was thoroughly impressed by Mélanie, especially seeing her act opposite Daniel.

Aside from the all-important chemistry between Mélanie and Daniel, it was Laurent that truly understood and embodied Shosanna, which further impressed Quentin.


Shosanna Dreyfus and Fredrick Zoller are both far more than Jewish Girl Bent On Revenge and German War Hero; to understand them together, it is important to understand them separately.

Shosanna Dreyfus, as we know, has her life and her identity ripped away from her; she has lived her life on the run until coming upon Le Gamaar and Madame Mimieux. In the script, Shosanna shows up at the theater two weeks later, dressed in a nurse uniform, with no given explanation as to how she obtained it or how she had even arrived at a theater in Paris; all that's said is that Shosanna has been in Paris for nearly two weeks, spending her nights sleeping on rooftops. Her determined nature is what impresses Mimieux into allowing Shosanna to stay - but only if she can prove herself to be clever enough to earn her keep. The film leaves this and the character of Madame Mimieux out entirely, bringing us forward four years to the present and leaving Shosanna's previous whereabouts entirely up to the viewer's imagination. All we really know is that she has begun an entirely new era in her life and an entirely new identity.

Shosanna is resilient and whip-smart, yet still very human. The massacre of her family has left her damaged, thus she is highly guarded and private. It can be assumed that throughout the past four years, Shosanna has been focused on surviving day by day, perhaps very rarely venturing away from the sanctuary of Le Gamaar; her only companions have been Madame Mimieux and Marcel. Unfortunately in her reality, taking such measures and precautions are necessary in order for Shosanna to stay alive. Shosanna must always be wary of those who cross her path as getting close to anyone else is quite hazardous. To be more emotionally open could be perceived by others as weakness and Shosanna is understandably unwilling to risk that happening. All of this serves to make the moments in which Shosanna is openly vulnerable even more powerful and moving. Shosanna is strong enough to hold it together, but underneath the hardened exterior is something more sensitive, a part of herself she keeps hidden away.

Fredrick Zoller, on film, is presented to us as a young German war hero and burgeoning film star. By the end, many see him as a sociopath, out to hurt Shosanna.

In the script, Shosanna was originally placed at the age of 19 before being aged up to 22 years in the film; Fredrick was written to be around her age as it was in the script, and it carries over well into the film to keep him at 19, as the basis for the character of Fredrick is that of real-life American war hero turned actor, Audie Murphy. Murphy is the most decorated war hero of WWII, as in only 27 months of combat action, he killed 240 German soldiers and wounded and captured many more; by the end of his tour of duty in 1945, Murphy was not even 21 years old and already had received the Medal of Honor, including 32 other U.S. and foreign medals and citations (five of which were from France and one from Belgium). Murphy wrote about his experience and in 1955, it was adapted into a film, To Hell And Back.

The script filled in some interesting backstory on Fredrick, which he only shares with Shosanna: Like her, his family runs a theater back home in Munich, Das Kino Haus. Like Audie Murphy, Fredrick came from a large family, the youngest out of six sisters; and like Murphy, Fredrick's mother died when he was a child and the family was abandoned by their father. As a result, Fredrick holds a great amount of respect for his sisters and has nothing but contempt for his father. And of course, just like Murphy, he becomes a hero from the weekend spent in the bell tower in Italy and has a film, Stolz der Nation made about him and starring him. No reason was given for Fredrick's enlistment, and unlike the others with whom Fredrick keeps company with, he does not spout any of their rhetoric and no indication is given that he (or his family) shares such beliefs. Fredrick is open and friendly with Shosanna, urging her to see him as more than just a uniform.

The other reference for Fredrick Zoller was Alvin York, an American war hero from WWI, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 38 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others. Interestingly, York had battled with his own personal demons a few years before the war, as he was a violent alcoholic. After getting into a saloon fight one night, his best friend was killed, which caused York to stop drinking and become a pacifist. He even applied for conscientious objector status, but was not approved; when the documentation reached him in camp for discharge from the Army on the basis of both religious grounds and sole support for his mother, York refused to sign. During WWII, York supported the war effort and went on bond tours. In 1941, a biographical film, Sergeant York, was made starring Gary Cooper.

As a combination of Murphy and York, Fredrick has a certain naïveté, an innocence to him, yet he has also survived a hellish experience which can damage even the most hardened of men. Like Shosanna, Fredrick keeps his trauma - those sensitive parts of himself - buried.


Now, I believe that Shosanna Dreyfus is the heart and soul of Inglourious Basterds and like Tarantino, I believe that Fredrick Zoller is an extremely important part of the film, as well. In films, I've always enjoyed a beautifully subtle performance, and Mélanie and Daniel played their roles perfectly and with a certain amount of restraint; at least until we see the real, vulnerable Shosanna and Fredrick. Screencaps galore in this section, as everything, from their facial expressions to their mannerisms are just wonderful. I probably frame-by-frame a good amount of my favorite films to death just to study every scene in detail, and IB is no exception (and I've done the same to Michael Fassbender, if you're wondering). Something I learned is that nothing Tarantino does is accidental, from the yellow leaf symbolizing the Star of David that settles on Wicki's coat to Bridget von Hammersmark's high-heeled cast.

German Night In Paris

It is outside of Le Gamaar that Shosanna and Fredrick first meet, with him emerging from the shadows to approach her, perched on a ladder.

Fredrick is all bright smiles and friendly conversation; he clearly means no harm, but Shosanna remains, quite reasonably, cautious of him. For as kind as he is, the fact that he is a German soldier cannot be ignored.

She regards him carefully and answers his questions in clipped responses, as Shosanna is dubious of any ulterior motives the young man might have.

However, it becomes clear that Fredrick is only wanting to engage her in a conversation about film.

Shosanna engages him, with both a playful and feisty demeanor (which Fredrick certainly seems to enjoy).

He asks her for her name as she abruptly prepares to leave, and though not intending to make her uncomfortable, Shosanna, in response, hands Fredrick her papers before he can even protest. Nervously, he laughs and looks them over, though it's not quite the introduction Fredrick would have hoped for.

Attempting to put her ease, Fredrick is polite and complimentary. And as one can see, he's becoming terribly enamored with Shosanna.

Something else I love about this scene is how intently Shosanna watches Fredrick, not once taking her eyes off of him; certainly, she's keeping her guard up, but one can see just how they're getting under each other's skin.

Then of course, Fredrick introduces himself, bracing for the type of overreaction that he's used to.

Instead, Shosanna has no idea, and awaits some kind of explanation.

Silence. Shosanna gives him an eyebrow raise, to indicate to Fredrick that he needs to say something.

Fredrick clears his throat...

...Shosanna looks him over...

...she regards him expectantly, but as Fredrick thanks her for her time, Shosanna narrows her eyes at him, not quite understanding him...

...as Fredrick bids her farewell instead.

Shosanna continues to watch Fredrick longer than necessary, as he walks back into the darkness. It is apparent she has not been this close to any of the Germans subjugating her country, let alone converse with one so open and friendly as Fredrick Zoller; he has gotten to her, though Shosanna won't readily admit it. As the script succinctly puts it: After all, for any true cinema lover, it's hard to hate anybody who, CINEMA MON AMOUR.

Something to note: In the script, Fredrick helped Shosanna change letters on the marquee; though this wasn't shown in the film, it may have possibly been filmed as she still thanks him for his help.

The Girl in the Café

As intriguing as Fredrick may be to Shosanna, she knows she must not get too close to him.

Now, as much as I could ramble on here (and I'm sure you'd love that), Fredrick's intentions are entirely clear in this scene, as they're all displayed by his mannerisms. When he's around Shosanna, he becomes extremely self-conscious of his appearance; Fredrick runs his hands through his hair too much (and can never tame those rogue forelocks) and will end up destroying his side cap if he doesn't get a hold of his nerves. Basically, keep an eye on Fredrick's face and hands in the following screencaps:

Fredrick is no better when dealing with his fame, either, as he responds stiffly and cordially to attention from others who recognize him:

Even when asked about himself by Shosanna, Fredrick still avoids giving her a concrete answer, opting to playfully tease her instead:

It is apparent that Fredrick would rather spend time with Shosanna without the interruptions, but he remains polite, though he does get quite flustered at the suggestion of her being his girlfriend:

His smile and quick glance over to Shosanna, though, seems to suggest that he wouldn't object:

But after continued interruptions and even being called a war hero, the subject is now unavoidable. It is obvious that Fredrick is not comfortable discussing this and he'd prefer for Shosanna not to know; she treats him like the regular young man that he is instead of fawning over him the way all the others do. Watching Fredrick explain himself, you can see his discomfort. His tone is even and he speaks matter-of-factly; he does not seem terribly proud and his nervous laughs and sharp intakes of breath at points in an attempt to lighten the mood add to this:

Shosanna, disturbed by this information, even tries to ease the tension by joking about Fredrick starring in a film about himself. Of course, it turns out to be true, and though Fredrick plays along with her, it's the mention of Joseph Goebbels that makes Shosanna realize that getting so close to Fredrick would pose a threat to her.

And so, like the previous night, Shosanna walks away, leaving Fredrick perplexed and watching her, perhaps longer than necessary:

Something to note: In the script, it was in this scene that Fredrick opens up to Shosanna about his family and theater; he even decides that holding the premiere of Stolz der Nation at Le Gamaar would be a kind gesture on his part, as it would bring more business to Shosanna's theater. Fredrick is also even more playful with Shosanna than in the film, as he teases her into thinking that he's Hitler's nephew. This scene in the script also features my favorite bit of dialogue between the two:

Shosanna: "So you're a war hero? Why didn't you tell me?"

Fredrick: "Everybody knows that, I like you didn't."

Tarantino, never going for the entirely obvious, probably thought it would be more effective to leave this unsaid and instead, demonstrated to us through Daniel's acting.

He's Leading You to All Sorts of Things

Shosanna and Fredrick next meet during lunch with Goebbels. Goebbels delights himself with what he perceives to be brilliance; as he and his mistress, Francesca, enjoy themselves, Fredrick is polite and restrained, as he awaits the arrival of Shosanna.

Fredrick, as sweet and naïve as he is, has no idea of Shosanna's treatment by Major Hellstrom.

Again, Fredrick's nerves are expressed through his hands; not only because of Shosanna's presence, but that of Joseph Goebbels, as well.

More nervous laughter, as Fredrick introduces Shosanna to Francesca; this situation, as he can tell, is quite awkward. Unfortunately, he has no idea just what exactly he's doing to Shosanna.

The way Fredrick gazes at her after introducing her to everyone at the table is just lovely:

Even when he's in the company of Joseph Goebbels, Shosanna is still the focus of Fredrick's attention.

Fredrick doesn't take the praise very well, no matter who it comes from; certainly, as a 19 year old war hero, he enjoys some of the perks of celebrity. However, the entire time, Fredrick looks to Shosanna, as she keeps him grounded.

Some of Fredrick's temper comes out, as he knows how delicate of a situation this is and would prefer to inform Shosanna himself.

Fredrick comes alive in this scene, as Shosanna holds herself together; even seeing how animated he is, you can see some uncertainty in the movement of his hands.

As we can see, Fredrick is silent after his interruption, terrified that he has spoken out of turn and withering. Knowing what we do of Fredrick's background, it isn't much of a stretch to assume that Goebbels is as close to a father figure as Fredrick has ever had; it is also easy to see that Fredrick is out of his element when in his company.

With a potentially volatile situation taken care of, Fredrick gives Shosanna a re-assuring look and his focus is shifted back to her. However misguided, Fredrick has nothing but good intentions for her, doing all of this for her sake, as well.

This next part is important:

As I've said before, nothing Tarantino does is accidental. The musical cue used upon Landa's entrance is Bath Attack by Charles Bernstein. Bath Attack is from the 1981 film, The Entity, in which Barbara Hershey's character is raped by an unseen, supernatural force. Bath Attack is appropriately used in that film during a psychic rape scene and that is exactly what this scene with Landa and Shosanna is as she's being forced to relive her trauma.

Shosanna, hoping to be able to leave with Fredrick, is forced back down in her seat by Landa.

Here, the next bit of acting by Mélanie is both brilliant and heart-breaking:

For the second time that day, Fredrick speaks out of turn, as the possibility of Shosanna coming under any harm makes him willing to risk anything - his career, punishment - for her. Shosanna, not able to speak out, but very much wanting to, pleads with Fredrick silently with her eyes.

She grows more desperate, her expression more strained and anguished as she tries to reach to out to Fredrick for some kind of understanding.

Unfortunately, due to his rank, there is only so much Fredrick can do, and as Goebbels interjects, Shosanna knows that it may very well be over for her.

Yet still, she tries. Yes, Shosanna reaching out to Fredrick can be attributed to the need for survival, but yet, there is something more to it than that; it's written across her face and in her eyes. Shosanna, on some level, perhaps something she doesn't want to admit, knows that she can trust him; his feelings, his intentions, as damaging as they may be, are genuine. It is this scene that has convinced me that if Fredrick were to learn the truth of her identity at that moment, he would still fight for Shosanna.

It is also in this scene that we see that as easily as Shosanna can hold herself together, she can come apart just as quickly.

Something to note: In the script, Goebbels asks Shosanna about the German films her theater has; he is outraged that she doesn't show his work. Fredrick once again speaks out of turn, quickly coming to her defense.
Fredrick then suggests they have a showing of Lucky Kids at Le Gamaar, as Shosanna had not seen it. This scene is included on the DVD of Inglourious Basterds, for screencaps, go here; it shows just how much Fredrick cares for her and establishes Shosanna's trust in him.

Lucky Kids

Again, I'm enjoying how all of Fredrick's focus is on Shosanna:

Fredrick stays back with her, offering more re-assurance after Goebbels' outburst. More on Lilian Harvey, via imdb:

She was instrumental in helping those persecuted by the Nazis escape until her film popularity waned and she was forced to escape as well. She eventually landed in the USA and spent most of WW2 in Los Angeles working as a volunteer nurse. Her former directors and co-workers like Michael Curtiz and Billy Wilder remained social contacts, but the stigma of having been UFA's biggest star of the early thirties kept her from reigniting her own film career. She did theatre work and continued to work on European stages after the war. She received war reparations in the early sixties and lived on the Riviera until her death on July 27th, 1968.

I'm betting that Shosanna said that intentionally.

It is also during this scene that Fredrick unknowingly gives her the greatest gift of all: The gift of her revenge.

Continue to part 2

se sentent: anxious
où: HOME.
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[identity profile] midnight-27.livejournal.com on December 14th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
Beautiful job. I never get tired of reading how their audition process came to be - I wish we were there watching :)
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: I'm in a mood for you[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on December 14th, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I never tire of it, either, as it helps to demonstrate just how important Shosanna and Fredrick are to the film.
[identity profile] la-belle-ange.livejournal.com on December 15th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
I LOVE the three caps of Frederick looking at Shosanna when she's introduced to Goebbels. Your analysis really shows how much he cares for her. ♥

I especially enjoyed the analysis of Shosanna's reaction when Frederick stands up to Landa. That always stood out for me when I was watching the film. Your comment about her trusting him in that moment makes perfect sense.

*skips off to part two*
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: I'm a heartbreak beat[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on December 15th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Daniel did such an excellent job with making the most of every second of screen time; nearly all of it consists of him focusing on Mélanie that it's almost as if he's actually in love with her.

It's such a pivotal for them, as Shosanna knows that as awful as this war has been to her, she has an ally in Fredrick, outside of Le Gamaar and Marcel and the collection of film prints. As terrible a place the outside world can be, there is always some bit of hope and she doesn't have to close herself off.
[identity profile] piecesofalice.livejournal.com on December 19th, 2009 12:17 pm (UTC)

http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: FASSY YOUR BASEMENT FUCKING SUCKS[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on December 19th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)

[identity profile] heartillys.livejournal.com on December 30th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
They...discovered each other? ;) I can just imagine them strolling through Paris and having lots of fun together.

Fredrick keeps his trauma - those sensitive parts of himself - buried

I would've loved to have seen a scene where he finally breaks down in front of Shoshanna and tells her everything from his past, to the hellish moments in the bell tower. I think that if they had gotten together, Shoshanna and Fredrick would've healed each other.

I also loved when Landa came in, and we can see Shoshanna wants Fredrick to stay. She knows he has feelings for her, and would do anything to protect her.

Fredrick stays back with her, offering more re-assurance after Goebbels' outburst

I never noticed that! That's just too cute for words. Heading to part deux!
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: Carried away[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on December 31st, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
I love that quote, because it sounds so innocent and filthy at the same time.

I can just imagine them strolling through Paris and having lots of fun together.

Like a classic French film! Oh, that's precious.

I would've loved to have seen a scene where he finally breaks down in front of Shoshanna and tells her everything from his past, to the hellish moments in the bell tower. I think that if they had gotten together, Shoshanna and Fredrick would've healed each other.

YES, they absolutely would have! It would take some time for them both, but they already have a bond and it would be strengthened through their shared experiences. If they were to have survived that night, they'd be inseparable, as there would be no one else who could understand Shosanna or Fredrick as they do with each other. They're two halves and together, they make a whole. That's also what really gets to me at the end: When Shosanna and Fredrick are with each other, they are themselves; separately, he's the polite war hero and she's very guarded. Not even Marcel was able to do that for Shosanna, but Fredrick could.

I also loved when Landa came in, and we can see Shoshanna wants Fredrick to stay. She knows he has feelings for her, and would do anything to protect her.

It's such a beautiful moment that further shows just how genuine his feelings are and her trusting him by reaching out to him silently shows that she knows this.

I never noticed that! That's just too cute for words.

I know! Fredrick is just so lovely to her.

Enjoy part 2!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on December 23rd, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: A chance with someone like you[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on February 22nd, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
Re: cooool
Thank you! ♥

I love Shosanna and Fredrick, so I do what I can for them; I'm particularly fond of analyzing their scenes and interactions.
[identity profile] shoppermania.livejournal.com on June 19th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
Oh, wow this is amazing! You do Shosanna and Fredrick stuff so well! I wish I had some talent to add to the fandom, lol :(
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: I need all the love I can get[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on June 19th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I just absolutely adore them, and the fact that their importance to each other is so undermined and ignored is why I put so much into my posts for them.

Don't sell yourself short! i'm sure there's something you could do to contribute ♥
[identity profile] galindaxxxx.livejournal.com on September 21st, 2010 05:06 am (UTC)
Wow! This was beautiful. Your caps are amazing and they reveal SO much that goes by so quickly on the screen -- which, I suppose, is how it's supposed to be.

One other thing that this made me notice:




Notice something? I did when I was reading this. And, as you point out, Tarantino never does anything accidentally: he has his Romeo and Juliet meet in their own little balcony scene.

(And the colours in the last one amuse me -- him in red, her in white)
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: You're the one sure thing[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on September 22nd, 2010 10:44 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm proud of having written this analyzation, along with the one for the projection booth. There's detail and nuance to every great film, and there's just so much with Shosanna and Fredrick that I had to go through it all because of how important they are to each other. That, and I love talking about all of this, so I had to get my thoughts out there.

YES! I love how Quentin had it all set up as their balcony scene; it's both so classic and unconventional.

I love that color scheme in that picture, too. Again, Quentin took something classic and made it new.

It sort of amazes me how many don't see the Romeo and Juliet angle quite clearly until it's pointed out, because then you see how obvious, yet subtle it is.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on December 23rd, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
http://suspiriorum.livejournal.com/: [film: IB/LiT] Have another cigarette[identity profile] suspiriorum.livejournal.com on January 23rd, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Adamsgir
Я написала что я думала. (Извините, я не говорю по-русский.)