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Image: Quentin Tarantino
Moti Milrod  /  AP
"I'm interested to see, 'OK, are there laughs here? Does the suspense work here as well as it works somewhere else?'" director Quentin Tarantino said in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Tuesday.
updated 9/15/2009 11:54:44 AM ET 2009-09-15T15:54:44

Quentin Tarantino says the most important part of his first-ever visit to Israel is to gauge the Jewish audience's reaction to his latest boundary-breaking film.

"Inglourious Basterds" tells the fictional story of a band of World War II-era Jewish-American soldiers turned vigilantes, who slaughter and scalp Nazi soldiers as retribution for the Holocaust.

Tarantino, who also wrote the screenplay for the unconventional "Basterds," defended his work of historical fiction and called the bloodbath of its Nazi characters a different brand of World War II film.

"To me, taboos are made to be broken. They're meant to be pushed over," Tarantino said Tuesday at a news conference ahead of the film's Israeli premiere. "One of the things that I think is a drag a little bit about movies dealing with World War II for the last 20 years is that ... all the movies have really focused in on the victimization of World War II."

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The controversial filmmaker said he wanted to create a Western-inspired adventure story instead. The unorthodox film depicts an alternate universe in which all the top leadership of the Nazi Party are brutally killed in a single night.

Slideshow: 2009 Toronto Film Festival "I'll be seeing it for the first time in an Israeli cinema. I'll be seeing it for the first time with an Israeli audience," Tarantino said. "I'm interested to see, 'OK, are there laughs here? Does the suspense work here as well as it works somewhere else?'"

Tarantino was joined in Israel by the film's producer Lawrence Bender and one of its lead actors, Christoph Waltz, who plays an offbeat SS colonel dubbed "The Jew Hunter."

The group also traveled together in Israel and visited Jerusalem's Holocaust museum.

Bender, who has collaborated with Tarantino on several other projects including "Pulp Fiction," "Reservoir Dogs" and the violent pair of "Kill Bill" movies, was the first Jewish person to read the script after Tarantino completed the final draft.

"I told him, as a fan, I thank you. As a producer, I thank you. As a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you," Bender said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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