So Inglorious Basterds opens with one of the most tense scenes ever in which the French farmer Perrier Lapadite is interrogated by the surprisingly friendly and gregarious SS Col. Hans Landa. Towards the end of the interview, Landa takes off his mask and is a serpent, but he promises Lapadite that his family will come to no harm so long as he cooperates.
Totaly speculation because we’re never shown what came next, but do you think Landa kept his word? Certainly his life from this point up is quite messed up: his house has been shot up, people have been murdered in his crawl space, and at very minimum there’s a red flag by his name in official records of the Reich, but, do you think Landa ahd him arrested/killed/further harassed or that he kept his word and left him alone afterward?
He’s a complex character. On the one hand, he’s a vicious murderer who admits he enjoys hunting Jews and would not hesitate to have the Lapadite girls gang raped and the father flayed alive and then all of them burned to death for the hell of it if it so pleased him. And, he let Shoshana live almost for sport; he could easily have had his men track her down. On the other hand, he’s super efficient and practical, and if the word gets out that “He’ll kill you in a heartbeat fro lying to him, but he will leave you alone if you cooperate- he did Lapadite” then it really will make his job go easier.
This, I think. Lansa seems to get off much more on gamesmanship than pure unadulterated sadism. In addition to being potentially more effective I think it would very much appeal to his own vanity to play by his own little set of “honorable” rules.
I’m one of those who is believes that he knew who was Shoshana was in the cafe, but enjoyed toying with her more than just arresting and killing her. Leaving Lapadite alive seems more in character
I see very little honor in Landa at all. He betrays the entire Reich without so much as a backward glance and had next to zero sympathy for the Nazis who were killed in the bar gunfight. He looks out for himself and no one else and if betraying his country means that he will be set up for life even if it means he will have to live amongst Jews, eh, no problem.
And let’s be honest he could get plastic surgery fairly easily to remove the swastika and claim that Hitler forced him to get it carved into his forehead and he can and would make that explanation seem utterly reasonable and plausible.
All very true; but I don’t know that it answers the question. What is the amoral “looking out for number 1” thing to do to Lapadite and his family? And what would Landa decide the amoral “looking out for number 1” thing to do was?
I tend to think he probably kept his word–such as it is–precisely because he’s an amoral ruthless bastard, and as the OP points out, it would probably be helpful to him doing his “job” to NOT punish non-Jews who–however belatedly–cooperate; plus the element Tamerlane points out–not morality, just Landa’s own vanity.
That’s my though as well. Leaving them in constant fear of retaliation would be a far more effective form of torture than anything physical. Landa, unlike many villains, was smart enough to realise that.
Once Landa got Lapadite to confess, he became meaningless to Landa. He’d already won, and had no reason to have the slightest interest in him after that. Lands had exactly two goals in life - advancing his own interests, and the thrill of the hunt. Punishing Lapadite would not have affected either goal.
This is kind of dumb though. Watch his daughters raped in front of him, or be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life? Any sane person would choose the second.
If one watches the scene, the part where Landa offers the carrot - the offer of total noninterference if Lapadite cooperates - is one in which there is not the slightest hint, not so much as a tic, that Landa is lying. Waltz is a terrific actor, being directed by a terrific director, and there is an absolute, flat honesty to the way he says it, as if he is reading a balance sheet. He means precisely what he is saying - as opposed to the many times in the movie when he speaks deceptively.
Lands is not evil, he is just effective at his job and he enjoys it. The fact it is “Jew Hunting” is irrelevant, I think. If the job had been hunting any other type of undesirables, be them communists or Mau Mau, he would have done it with equal relish. He is amoral, and that is the worst kind of being IMO.
It was advantageous to him to kill the family for hiding Jews. Nobody else knew the promise he made the farmer.
In my book amoral and immoral can functionally be identical when it comes to evil. Landa loves his game-playing and his games are horrific. I’m pretty comfortable labeling him as evil. And really, I’m not so sure amoral is the right word - as you note he enjoys doing bad things.
I don’t see much advantage. The only thing he potentially avoids is one of his troopers ratting him out as “soft.” But considering his obvious ability, efficiency and ruthlessness when required, I can’t imagine any superior giving him too much crap about his methods. Especially as he can spin it ( probably accurately ) as being a more effective tactic in the long run.
Trivia reminder: In real life Christoph Waltz’s children are not only Jewish, his son is a rabbi in Israel. His son could not watch the movie because he couldn’t see his father in that way. (Waltz recently attended the wedding of his daughter on a kibbutz.)
I think that after Landa came to America he married and had a daughter who married a man who went to Alaska. Through her he had a grandson, Rust Cohle, who inherited his grandfather’s abilities with forensic analysis and interrogation. (i.e. I see similarites twixt McConnaughey’s character in TRUE DETECTIVE and Landa, though McC is not as vain or evil [at least from what is currently known].)
I think he spared the farmer, as the ending’s kinda absurd otherwise: it makes sense for Landa to strike that deal if he’s always been the Guy You Can Do Business With, but it’d be weird for him to figure the Basterds will stick to the bargain – and be shocked when they mess him up – if he’s typically been a Pray-I-Don’t-Alter-It-Further dick after the other side has come through for him.
I see this as looming larger in Landa’s calculations than others in this thread apparently do. From the troopers’ point of view, Landa would be sparing collaborators-with-enemies-of-the-state. They didn’t know about any promises Landa has made–and more importantly, they wouldn’t care about such promises. Lapadite flouted Nazi decrees, and Lapadite must pay.
I think Landa might have had the farmer strung up near the road as an example to passersby. Defying Nazi edicts wouldn’t have been tolerated, period.
(What was the real-life situation regarding seizure of the assets of those found to be in violation of Nazi pronouncements? Might Landa have materially benefitted from having the farmer killed and his property confiscated?)
I’ve wondered about that and while I do agree with you, rationally I think I shouldn’t : on the one hand, he does keep landing awkward questions, insistent stares and knowing little smiles at her. On the other hand, had he known she was a Jewish survivor of Nazi purges, would he still have let the higher ups book her cinema for the première ? Since he’s responsible for security, anything bad that happens would be on him.
Maybe he’s just creepily unnerving with everyone he meets ?
Interesting question; I hadn’t thought this before. I suspect Landa let the French farmer live; word would get around in the area that he was a man of his word and it would make Landa’s job (catching fugitive Jews) easier. He probably would have warned the farmer, though, that this was a one-time deal - if he later learned that the farmer was again hiding other Jews, the farmer and his family would die just as unpleasantly as the fugitives.