I interviewed Quentin Tarantino yesterday for a Q&A piece on Inglourious Basterds running in this Sunday's Herald. I've always loved the way Tarantino uses music in his films, and I asked him about his curious choice of the David Bowie song Cat People (Putting Out Fire) during a montage in Basterds.
Q: You once said that when you use a pop song in a movie, you want to use it in a way that will always remind people of your film whenever they hear it, so no other filmmaker can ever use it. In this movie, though, you use David Bowie's Cat People (Putting Out Fire), which was written for the 1982 Cat People remake.
A: I've always loved that song and I was always disappointed by how Paul Schrader used it in the movie. He didn't really use it; he threw it in over the closing credits. I remember working at the Video Archives at the time and thinking "If I had a song like that for my movie, I'd build a 20-minute scene around it!'' So I guess I did.
Q: There's a really cool sense of dislocation when that song comes on, which still sounds so modern, yet we're in World War II France. It's one of my favorite sequences in the film. It reminded me of Brian De Palma, back when he was still good.
A: When I got the idea to use it, one of the things I liked is that the song was once removed and you already knew it from something else, as opposed to something that was written for the movie. You're listening to the lyrics of the song and you're watching Shoshanna [a character in the film played by Melanie Laurent] doing all this stuff, and you sit there thinking "Wow, this song was written for Cat People, but it's totally appropriate for Shoshanna's story!'' It plays like an interior monologue for her.