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The Truth About Diane Kruger's Choking Scene In Inglourious Basterds

Since breaking into the movie biz with his '90s classics Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino has cultivated one of the most eccentric, and artistically ambitious catalogs in the history of moving pictures. The director's flare for combining grindhouse grit with arthouse allure was never more on display than it was with 2009's WWII drama Inglourious Basterds.   

Born of a singularly Tarantino-esque setup about a band of elite Jewish soldiers dedicated to eliminating Nazis in increasingly merciless fashion, the film infamously led to a blood-soaked finale as shocking for its violent imagery as it was for its sublime employ of artistic historical license. Even as the facts as presented in the final moments of Inglourious Basterds are as far from historically accurate as it gets, movie lovers savored the gruesome sights Tarantino conjured, ultimately hailing the film as one of his finest to date.

They also hailed Inglourious Basterds' cast for bringing the insanity to such vivid life. While Christoph Waltz's grandstanding turn as the vile Nazi Hans Landa remains the performance of note in Inglourious Basterds, most can agree several of his cast-mates delivered work every bit as powerful. Chief among them was Diane Kruger, who portrayed German film star turned Allied spy Bridget Von Hammersmark, a role which found the actor stretching herself dramatically in ways she never had before. 

It also found her front and center for one of Inglourious Basterds' more harrowing and heartbreaking deaths. The moment in question arrives during a scene in which her heroine is brutally strangled by a venomous Nazi sniper (Daniel Brühl). You may not realize, but that scene was more fact than fiction as Kruger is actually being choked in the moment. It may shock you (or not) to learn it was Tarantino himself who did the choking.  

That choking scene stirred serious controversy amid the Me Too movement

Yes, those are the hands of Quentin Tarantino you see in that vicious POV close-up of the life being choked out of Bridget Von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds' waning moments. While the scene is considerably less vivid than the sight of Hitler and Goebbels being machine-gunned to a fleshy, bloody pulp in that movie theater finale, most would agree it's no less brutal. Some might even say the scene is all the more unforgettable for its visceral authenticity. 

That unsettling sense of hyper-reality is the very reason Tarantino lobbied Kruger to endure actually being choked in the moment, with the director admitting as much in a typically candid 2013 interview on The Graham Norton Show. Tarantino points out that Kruger consented to the act, but such behavior still landed him in the hot seat when his name came up amid the #MeToo movement in Hollywood years later. Tarantino's name arose after Uma Thurman broke the news that he'd endangered her life on the set of Kill Bill by reportedly forcing her to drive a car against her will — an act which led to a dangerous crash and permanent knee damage for the actor.

Some in the movement seized on Tarantino's admission that he choked Kruger on the set of Inglourious Basterds as further proof of the director taking undue advantage of a female actor. Kruger was, however, quick to come to Tarantino's defense with an Instagram post exonerating the director of any wrongdoing by stating clearly, "He treated me with utter respect and never abused his power or forced me to do anything I wasn't comfortable with."

As it is, the infamous choking scene was indeed a mutual act of art shared between actor and director — even if it remains a touch dubious to some.