The Strudel Scene

Inglourious_Basterds_Poster_melanie_LaurentI saw INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS last week.  I can’t get The Strudel Scene out of my head.  In this scene, Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) finds herself seated at table in a fancy restaurant with the Nazi Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) that she fled from into the wild years before after he had ruthlessly murdered her family.  He interrogates her about using her cinema for a premiere of a Nazi propaganda film.  And they eat strudel. With cream. This scene is a masterwork of suspense.

The strudel. Delicate, flaky, an innocuous dessert.  Tarantino allows the sweet treat its own close up for two minutes.  In the film, Hans Landa interacts with his victims with a wickedly courteous, well-bred politeness.  He is a gentlemen before, during, and after he performs his ghastly acts. He considers himself elegant, respectable and civilized because of the way he conducts business, no matter how ruthless the business.  Of course he orders strudel.  Then he attacks it but with a fork and knife and trained smile.

The setting. Gleaming silverware, uniformed wait staff, an immaculate table. Rich and refined.sohanna The opposite of the last time the two saw each other (she was covered in mud and dirt running into the woods). The waiter interrupts the interrogation multiple times. These intrusions build the tension perfectly.  They are the interruptions one could expect in this setting and with Hans Landa.  He makes Shosanna squirm when waiters attend to his requests and treat him like a king.

The cream. The Nazi insists on ordering it and our minds insist on recalling Shosanna’s childhood on a dairy farm – the childhood he destroyed.  It’s also in character.  It is proper and luxuriously appropriate to have the cream in this setting.

strudel-550x366The scene is absolutely fascinating because of everything it says about the characters, their conflict, their intentions and the questions it makes us (the audience) ask about the characters and their behaviors. Tarantino lets us see Shosanna break down after Han’s exits.  I was worried he wouldn’t, but he did!  It puts us back with her and propels us to the next scene with intensity we wouldn’t have had if we’d left on a note from Hans.

Christoph Waltz discusses playing Hans and even The Strudel Scene here.

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14 Responses to “The Strudel Scene”

  1. Josh H Says:

    Interesting. I didn’t even think of Shosanna’s life on the dairy farm during that scene. The only thing that struck me was the Jewish requirement not to mix dairy and meat products, making me think the strudel may have had lard in it.

    Were such the case, the addition of cream to the strudel would have been a test of Shosanna’s faith.

    A stretch, but that’s what came to my mind.

  2. Anna Says:

    See – I didn’t think of the angle you suggested. Not a stretch at all. You know it’s a good scene when it can have this many layers. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Nominated Editors Spill the Beans « Anna Christopher | News Says:

    […] scene from INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS that I blogged about and continues to be one of my most read posts: The Strudel Scene. See below for the juicy insights she […]

  4. Santiago Tagle Says:

    I WANT the recipe for the strudel in this scene. Can anyone tell me who to contact to find out where the strudel was made, and whether I can get the recipe?

  5. Melzbellz Says:

    I agree with Josh H about the kosher point above. Notice the focus on that *one* bite she took. It was the only bite we saw her take.

    I think the fact that he ordered a glass of milk for her to drink was much more pertinent to the dairy farm than was the cream atop the strudel…. Especially considering that he drank milk at the farm during the entire conversation she and her family were listening to beneath the floorboards (whatever they understood of it) before they were shot. :}

  6. Samuel Says:

    This is an excellent scene. I ordered the movie from netflix and watched this scene over and over again. Hans Landa is absolutely brilliant in probing her. Its seems as if he knows she is shoshanna all along. And the fact that all this is in french makes it even more brilliant.

    Melzbellz is right. The ordering of a glass of milk does refer to the scene in Lapadite’s house.

  7. Topher Says:

    I thought the exact same thing as Josh H. It was a mix of dairy and meat product. (lard would have most definitely been used back then in baking strudel.)
    Landa was baiting Shoshanna. i.e. testing her faith. Even with the cigarrette at the end as well. The, “wait for the creme” comment would have been downright torture for her.
    Perfect scene.

  8. 2010 Review Stats of My Blog « Anna Christopher | News Says:

    […] The Strudel Scene September 2009 7 comments 3 […]

  9. ravi Says:

    Absolutely agree with you regarding the strudel scene. I was more intrigued towards his mysterious expression when he orders a coffee for him and milk for the lady. it just reminded me of milk he has in the diary farm in the beginning of the movie.

  10. Jennie Says:

    I am just drooling over strudels in this scene. It’s also such a perfect scene for the two characters to interact, without having any prediction at all on how it’ll turn out. This seriously made me go to the grocery store and purchase strudel ingredients! If you guys want it quick, easy and delicious, just buy puff pastry and apple filling!

  11. Adi Says:

    Please, do not make stuff up.
    No apple strudel is made with animal fat. It is a very healthy dessert (eaten without ice cream or sour cream) – fruits, nuts and dough.

  12. vegginoutwithmel Says:

    No apple strudel? Not a one? Really?

    The dough you speak of, at this time period, would have most likely contained either butter or lard, neither of which are particularly healthy, yet both of which are derived from an animal, if you want to get technical. However, the lard would be the specific animal fat referenced in this case, as the butter is dairy and therefore would not cause a problem if consumed with cream or milk. Apparently its use in puff pastry dough, which is the very dough you would be speaking of, is also “made up.”

    From what I have read, the only other likely similar ingredient to lard or butter, vegetable shortening, is currently hard to find (and also not so good for you either) in Europe, so I would guess that the case was similar back in WW II. Besides, lard or vegetable shortening make for a puffier, albeit possibly less enjoyable, puff pastry dough than butter, so it is most certainly possible that the lard could be in there.

    And strudel is actually not particularly healthy at all. About 36% of the calories are from fat (19% of those are from saturated fat), 59% from (mostly refined!) carbs, and only 5% from protein. Doesn’t sound particularly healthy to me. And if you find a significant amount of vitamins, please let me know. I couldn’t.

    Besides, we’re guessing at possibilities in this particular comment thread, which enriches the experience of an excellent film. Lard is most certainly a possible ingredient in the dough used to make apple strudel, and not at all an impossibility as you proclaim.

  13. Vic Says:

    tarantino actually selected Cristph Waltz after he auditioned for the role. Guess what was the audition?? Strudel scene

  14. Dick Says:

    This was one of the most delicious scenes of any movie. The beauty, the subtle acting of Melanie Laurent and the tension with its ramifications made it so. How can so many of you commenters be focussing on the kosher aspects? And Tarantino’s selection of the exquisitely gorgeous Diane Kruger also amplified and counter-balanced Waltz’s wonderful characterization throughout the movie. That strudel scene was magnificent because of the two actors and Tarantino’s direction. It required no allusion to dairy products and Jewish dietary laws.

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