Any mistake relating to actual facts of the Second World War can be thrown out with one explanation: This is Quentin Tarantino's universe, whose history diverged from ours in the early 1940s, and where Adolf Hitler was gunned down in a burning theater. Troop movements, uniforms, and technological developments occurred differently in the Tarantinoverse. Actor Christoph Waltz has stated that the film is "a piece of art. Not a history lesson."
Lt Hicox said prior to the war he wrote a book about the film director Georg Wilhelm Pabst, who described as being German. If Hicox really wrote Pabst's biography, he would know that Pabst was Austrian.
In the final scene, Landa is handcuffed by Utivich, but when he is being "marked" by Raine, his hands are free and gripping the soil.
During the card game, Bridget's card reads "Genghis Khan". However, since the game was played entirely by Germans, they would have used the German spelling, "Dschingis Khan". (Also, when leaving the table, Bridget comments that she never would have guessed it and uses the English pronunciation, even though she's speaking German.)
At the beginning of the film Perrier's daughter is hanging sheets on the line to dry; however, the sheet she is securing to the line is already dry (it isn't wet). In those days, however, people hang their sheets to air them so they didn't have to wash them so often. So dry sheets would be hung.
After Mathilda has taken Bridget's place to join the quiz game with the soldiers, bartender Eric leaves the counter and walks over to assist her. He is shown standing left behind her. Then the camera cuts to the officers' table. In the background Eric is shown standing behind the counter again.
After Sgt. Donowitz ("The Bear Jew") kills the German soldier with the bat, he struts about shouting a "play-by-play" account of his action. During this, he uses the phrase "Donowitz goes yard!", meaning hitting a home run. The term "goes yard" was not used for a home run until the 1990s.
The Gestapo officer in the tavern is shown wearing a M1932 Allgemeine-SS uniform, which was made famous by the SS in the 1930s. A Gestapo agent would not have worn one, especially in 1944, as its use had been abolished in 1942. They would have instead appeared either in civilian attire or in an SS-style gray field uniform similar to Landa's.
When the British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox is introduced to his superiors, he is instructed to "stand at ease" which is still a formal position, but Hicox "stands easy", which allows him to relax arms and move the feet.
In the tavern scene there is a female Nazi sergeant. There were no female soldiers in the Third Reich, except of helpers for AA guns, medical orderlies, and aircraft mechanics in the Luftwaffe.
During Adolf Hitler's first appearance we see a map of Europe and where Turkey is supposed to be, reads "Osmanien" (written in Fraktur, making the "s" look like a "t"). The Ottoman Empire collapsed in 1923 and Turkey was established in that region, approximately 20 years before when this movie is supposed to be taking place.
When Landa arrives at Lapadite's farm, one of his subordinates refers to him as "Herr Oberst". As an SS officer, Landa would not be addressed using an Army rank. His correct title would be "Standartenführer".
When Hans Landa is talking to Shoshanna after ordering strudel for her he offers her a cigarette and lights one for himself. His cigarette doesn't appear to be lit when he removes his lighter but in the next shot there is half an inch of ash on it.
Hugo Stiglitz is shown slowly sharpening his knife. At the end of each stroke there is an ominous "shhhlick" sound as he twists the blade with a flick. This would actually remove the edge he is attempting to sharpen, and dull the blade.
When Colonel Landa speaks with Lieutenant Raines and Private Utivich about chances being "999-point-999 out of one million" it appears he misspoke. However, when counting in Germany, a period is used where a comma would be used in the English world, and vice-versa. He did mean 999,999 out of one million but mistranslated.
In the final theater scene, when the moviegoers are fleeing the fire and the Basterds are firing from above into the crowd, a woman extra gets shot in the back several times and when she falls forward (dead or dying, presumably), she grabs on to her hat to make sure it doesn't fall off.
It is hard to believe that Landa who checks for the cinema's safety does not discover the enormous pile of highly flammable cellulose nitrate film behind the screen. However, Landa is shown at the end of the movie to only be looking out for his own interests. It is likely that he saw the film, but chose not to report it so he could ensure that his attempt to gain amnesty would succeed.
The theater in Paris is shown brightly lit at night and street lamps are on. All occupied cities within range of Allied bombers were under strict nighttime blackout. The cinema is also lit inside during the afternoon, but there were severe power restrictions in Paris from January 1942 until after the war.
Apart from a few essential occupations, a French civilian in Paris would not be working outdoors after dark. There was a strict curfew from September 1940 until after Paris was liberated.
In the opening scene, the farmer is seen chopping wood, sweating profusely - yet there isn't any wood chopped or to chop. He is just repeatedly and aimlessly throwing his ax at the chopping log.
Archie refers to Aldo as "lootenant." Normally, a British officer would pronounce it "leftenant" among fellow British officers. Out of professional courtesy, however, British officers typically use the American pronunciation when dealing with American officers.
Colonel Landa is seen in uniform and he is wearing a Nazi Party pin. The German military was specifically excluded from being party members.
Colonel Landa is an SS officer. Although members of the Wehrmacht were always expected to be apolitical the SS was the military arm of the Nazi Party, they were NOT members of the Wehrmacht.
Standartenfuhrer Landa is wearing the correct rank patches on his collar, but they are pointing in the wrong direction. The top of the oak-leaf should point away from the head. Change them over and they would be correct.
Many of the subtitling "errors", such as "Merci" instead of "Thank You", are intentional, given that these phrases are interchangeable and can be understood without English translation.
In the opening scenes at the farmhouse, it can be clearly seen that the fields have been farmed using mechanized farm equipment - the crop marks from spraying from tractors, for instance. Rural France before the 1960s in general and during the war in particular, was not mechanized in any meaningful way until an influx of wealth from Great Britain and Germany via the Common Agricultural Policy of the Common Market/European Community/European Union. It would all have been horse drawn or manual.
The following continuity errors are considered to be intentional stylistic homages to the bad editing in the "spaghetti western" genre:
Col. Hans Landa claims the Bubonic Plague was caused by rats. However, the plague was caused by fleas on the rats, not the rats themselves. In the 1940s it was believed that rats were the cause so it is correct for Landa's character to be mistaken.
In the opening sequence of the film, which is set in the year 1941, The SS Colonel refers posthumously to Reinhard Heydrich, "The Hangman," in his conversation with the French farmer and mentions that he had been assassinated; however, Heydrich was attacked and mortally wounded on the 27th of May, 1942, and died a week later on the 4th of June, 1942 - a year later than the time in which this scene of the film is set.
When Col. Hans Landa's men shoot through the floor boards in LaPadite's house, the resultant bullet holes in the boards are funnel shaped, being larger in diameter at the top and smaller diameter at the bottom. In reality, the opposite would be true. The point of entry would be just a clean round hole with no funnel shape carved in the boards as seen from above the floor boards.
Until after WWII, modern foreign languages were not commonly taught in Germany. Thus, few if any German soldiers spoke any English, let alone American English. In fact, fluent English would almost certainly indicate intelligence training, which regular soldiers and police officers did not receive.
By the time Allies had landed in Normandy, Hitler's paranoia was such that no officer was allowed to wear a sidearm in his presence. Thus Zoller would not have been able to wear the gun he shot Shosanna with.
When Eric (the bartender) hands a glass to Bridget, he calls her "Frau" instead of "Fräulein." "Frau" implies she is married and/or elderly, which Bridget isn't.
Shosanna is introduced working on her marquee in Paris, "4 years later". Yet this occurs in 1944 and the previous scene in 1941. That's 3 years, not 4.
Landa clearly expresses his love of his nickname "Jew Hunter" in the opening chapter but shows utter disdain, contempt even for the epithet by the end, preferring "Detective" to "Hunter". However, three years have passed since the first chapter; Landa may have grown tired of his nickname in this time. Also, Landa is planning to betray his superiors in exchange for amnesty from the Americans. Now that the Allies are on the verge of victory, he fears punishment for his wartime actions and naturally wants to distance himself from his reputation as a hunter and killer of Jews.
As the German soldiers in the bar play the card game one of them is "Winnetou", a fictional Apache created by Karl May and a very popular book series. When he guesses his character he stands up and imitates a gesture with his arm - moving it away from his heart saying "I am Winnetou!" This gesture was used first by actor Pierre Brice playing Winnetou in The Treasure of the Silver Lake.
When Lt. Raine is speaking to his general over the radio, the general ends the transmission by saying, "Over and out." This is incorrect radio procedure in the U.S. military. The proper procedure is for the person ending the transmission to simply say, "Out."
The highly-flammable cellulose nitrate film of the period plays a major role in the film's showdown. However, in the projection booth, projectors are shown with the film reels exposed, which would have been totally unthinkable at that time. All projectors were equipped with fireproof boxes in which the reels would run. These boxes had only small windows for the projectionist to check for the amount of run off or taken up film. If the film were to catch fire while running through the projector and spread up into the feed reel or down into the take-up reel, the reel boxes would contain the fire long enough for the fire-shutters on the booth windows to be closed and for the projectionists to leave the booth and commence evacuating the building.
When Landa has Raine and Uitivich as prisoners, and is gesturing toward the telephone, the handset is connected to the phone with a perfectly coiled black cord that didn't exist until after 1960.
Fenech salutes with no head dress on, which is incorrect British military custom. The same is true for the German soldiers in the bar.
The movie theater is lit entirely by fluorescent lighting; such technology was unavailable during World War II except for the war effort (i.e. lighting factories).
Lt. Archie Hicox uses the phrase "Paris, when it sizzles," which was a lyric from Cole Porter's play "Can-Can" ("I Love Paris"), not written until the 1950s. Porter coined the phrase, he didn't just adopt it from general usage.
In the opening credits for the film within the film Stolz der Nation, the name Joseph Goebbels is misspelled "Goebbles".
When Lt. Hicox says "And seeing as I might be rapping on the door momentarily", he uses "momentarily" in the sense of "in a moment". In the British English of the time, "momentarily" would have exclusively meant "for a moment", so he would not have used that word.
When Shosanna is splicing her special film into the print of STOLZ DER NATION, a close-up shows that both prints have dual bilateral variable-area optical soundtracks. This type of soundtrack is still used today, but wasn't introduced until 1954. An optical soundtrack prepared in 1944 would more likely be of the variable-density or unilateral variable-area types.
During the film Adolf Hitler is shown wearing his brown uniform with the red swastika armband. This is inaccurate because the film occurs during World War II and Adolf Hitler always wore his gray arm uniform from the start of the war, September 1, 1939, till the day he committed suicide, April 30, 1945.
When Landa strangles Bridget, there is a shot from behind Lada as Bridget collapses and both of her arms are flung outwards onto the floor. After a few more shots there is another view from behind Landa and we see Bridget's arms fall onto the floor again.
When Lt Raine is speaking to the Basterds and says "We're into one thing", he is standing at the right side (Samm Levine's) of the formation. An instant later, when he says "Killin' Nazis", he is at the other end.
In the final scene where Col. Landa is surrendering to Lt. Raine, Lt. Raine's tie is untied and hanging off both shoulders. In one shot, the right half of the tie moves behind him, then returns in front in the next shot.
When the Lieutenant meets the General and Sir Winston Churchill, the strings are hanging out of his beret which is the French style, not the American or British style (unless the Director was trying to show the character's lack of military bearing.)
When Lt. Raine introduces himself, he claims he took part in the invasion of Sicily. However, the map shown behind Adolf Hitler shows an incorrect representation of Axis forces/control for the time (showing North Africa and Sicily as still under Axis control).
After Shoshanna shoots Zoller in the back, he turns on her and shoots her with his service weapon. However, he is in formal military dress and at no point prior to that scene is he carrying his weapon. And nothing in the previous scenes accord him a reason to be carrying his weapon, given the security that surrounds the event.
At the premier, Pvt. Zoller is in his full dress uniform with all his decorations. He wears the Knight's Cross with oak leaves, swords, and cut diamonds around his neck and the Iron Cross 2nd class on his chest. However, conspicuously absent is the Iron Cross 1st class, which he certainly would've worn to the occasion (see where Adolf Hitler wears his), and which is necessary to receive the Knight's Cross. Without the 1st class award, he could not have received a Knight's Cross let alone with oak leaves, swords, and cut diamonds.
In the tavern scene, when Bridget von Hammersmark is shot she falls backwards in her chair to the floor; but a moment later, when we see the room after the shoot out, her chair is still upright at the table.
After the shootout in the La Louisiane tavern, Bridget von Hammersmark's silver earrings completely disappear only to later reappear in the scene at the veterinary hospital shortly thereafter.
In Chapter Two during Lt. Raines pep talk he mentions fighting his way across Sicily. However, in the Fuhrer conference scene immediately afterward, which occurs after the Basterds have had to time to gain a reputation, the giant map on the wall shows Sicily and North Africa still under German control.
When Fredrich leaves the opera box during the film premiere to go to the projection booth, he walks out of the box and turns to the left. Since he was on the right-hand side of the theater, this would mean he was heading in the direction of the screen/backstage and away from the booth. A few moments later, we see him walk up a flight of stairs where drape hangs off to the left and a masonry wall stands to the right, with the stairs opening to a set of catwalks to the left. The only area this would make sense is in the backstage area of the theater, again opposite the projection booth. Once he does make it to the booth, he arrives at the door on the right side, the same side as the opera box he was in is on. The turn to the left and walk up the flight of stairs makes no sense.
Hitler is shown at the premiere wearing his swastika armband. In real life, Hitler stopped wearing his armband once the war began in 1939.
The killing of Shoshanna's family, in the opening sequence of this film, is set in May, 1941 - one year into the German occupation of France. In reality, however, the rounding-up of French Jews in the German occupation zone of France only commenced in mid-1942, and the rounding-up of French Jews in the Vichy controlled zone of France commenced in 1943. Thus, the Dreyfus's execution in this film happens more than a year earlier than what it would have in reality, depending on what zone of France the family was hiding in.
Lt Aldo Raine is wearing the 1st Special Service Force unit insignia, yet later he is referred to as a "Secret Service" officer. Raine could be called a "Special Service" or a "Strategic Service" (OSS) officer, but not "Secret Service", which is the organization founded in 1865 and responsible for guarding the US President since 1894.
Landa says to Lapadite that Hitler fetched him from Austria. But Austria was a part of the German Reich at the time and was called "Ostmark".
When Mélanie Laurent is updating the sign outside the cinema, the red characters are see-through, and she throws them at a stack from the top of the ladder. This implicates they are made from a see-through, hard to break material like poly-carbonate. These characters would not have been available during WWII.
The Gestapo officer in the tavern is shown wearing a Black M1932 Allgemeine-SS uniform, which was made famous by the SS in the 1930s. A Gestapo agent would not have worn one, especially in 1944, as these SS Uniforms were no longer worn starting in 1939. He would have instead appeared either in civilian attire or in an SS-style gray field uniform similar to Landa's. Also his uniform has a SS Runes patch on the right collar. As a member of the Gestapo, he would be in the SD Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service of the SS). His right collar patch should be plain black and he should have an SD patch on the bottom left sleeve.
In the bar, when Dieter Hellstrom has successfully found out that King Kong was on his playing card, he takes the card off and puts it on the table. In the next shot, filming Cpl. Wicki over the shoulder of Hellstrom, the playing card is still on the forehead of Hellstrom.
In the basement bar scene, Stiglitz's hand is under the SS officer's arm. When he shoots, his arm is over the officer's arm.
Hans Landa, who is an Austrian-German SS officer, is shown to be wearing the Germanic Proficiency Runes - an award which would have been impossible for him to earn. The Germanic Proficiency Runes were intended solely for the Germanic-SS, which were collaborationist groups set up in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway to mirror the General-SS in Germany. The runes were also very rare and only awarded to a handful of foreign SS collaborators at the end of 1944. The Germanic Proficiency Runes were never awarded to members of the regular SS in Austria and Germany.
La Padite starts his pipe and it should produce a decent billow of smoke to some of the air, but he soon puts it down and there is no trace of smoke anywhere in the small farmhouse.
Shoshanna's red dress worn has "invisible" plastic coil zippers inserted in the sleeve ends and center back, a technology that did not exist during WW2. Invisible zippers are a clean solution but no doubt, the designer didn't anticipate a close up of the inside sleeve, nor the evidential zipper pull at the dress center back.
At the premiere, Pvt. Zoller wears his Knight's Cross around his neck but when in uniform in all other scenes, he is without it. The Knight's Cross was one of the highest orders the Third Reich bestowed upon soldiers and when in any uniform Zoller would have worn it around the neck.
Possibly intentional: The German sniper's name is Friedrich Zoller, and he is called that, but the movie posters spell his name in the Anglicized version as Frederick.
After the bar-basement fight, when Landa is identifying soldiers, he says that Wicki "immigrated to the United States" when he should have said that he "emigrated", as Landa was standing in the country from which Wicki left. If he has been in the US, the country to which Wicki emigrated, then he would have been correct in saying that Wicki "immigrated to the United States".
Stiglitz's eyelid moves several times when Landa examines him, hours after he's been killed.
Near the beginning of the film, when Hans Landa is talking to Perrier LaPadite, there is a moth that visibly lands on Landa's glass and climbs to the top of it. When the camera angle changes, the moth is gone.
In the first chapter, Col. Landa's peaked hat is missing the Silver Braid just above the brim. In later chapters, the braid is attached to the hat.
The second time the server scoops up some of the cream, it falls off of the fork, but still ends up on Landa's dessert.
In the ditch scene, while Lt. Aldo Raine questions the first of his three German prisoners Sgt. Werner Rachtmann, the latter's Close Combat clasp (worn over his left breast pocket) appears and disappears between scenes.
When Shosanna takes the specially prepared fourth reel (with her 'surprise' for the Nazis) out of the case, her hair is down and hanging loose. In the next shot, just a few seconds later, as she is putting the reel on the projector, her hair is pinned back. Some time after this, when the bell on her projector tinkles to let her know it's time to switch reels, she glances out the projector porthole at the audience and we see her hair is again down and hanging loose. As she pulls the lever to activate the reel, just a few seconds after this, her hair is once again pinned back, remaining this way throughout her final scene.
When Sgt. Donowitz (a.k.a. The Bear Jew) beats the captured Nazi to death under the bridge, we see blood on the ground near the corpse, but when it switches to an overhead shot, the blood has disappeared.
When Landa orders the strudels, the server first puts the milk on the table, at which point the espresso is on the server's plate. In the next shot, the espresso is on the table already.
In the first scene, when Perrier's daughter is spreading a sheet over a clothesline, a clothespin appears on the sheet between shots.
As the conversational confrontation between Hicox and Hellstrom gets more and more heated in the basement tavern, there is a scene where Hicox's right hand is in an arched position on the table, but the next scene it's flat and not visible. This happens a couple of times.
In the tavern scene, the German soldiers are playing the game and one of them gets Mata Hari wrong. In this scene the barkeeper and his daughter are clearly visible with them at their table, however when the film cuts back to Von Hammersmark's table they appear instantly at the bar behind them.
At the premiere , Hans Landa is shown with a shiny gold-colored medal called "Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross"wrapped around his neck . A german soldier (especially a Colonel) would only display an Iron Cross like that . Also there are several colonels at the premiere that have two or more Iron Crosses . An soldier from the Reich's army would only have one Iron Cross , no matter which rank he has (For example a soldier would only have one Iron Cross , and a colonel would also have only one Iron Cross)
The large map on the wall behind Hitler shows several Swastika-covered countries that were no under German control by 1944, as has already been reported by other contributors. However, there was one more glaring error on the map--Finland has a Swastika over it. Finland was never invaded by Germany; its only enemy during the war was the Soviet Union, which couldn't completely defeat it, but won some areas of control.
Shosanna and Zoller are talking outside the theatre. It is supposed to be June in Paris and you can see them breathing like it is winter time.
During close-ups of Lt. Aldo Raine as he's addressing the eight Jewish-American soldiers, an ear piercing hole is clearly seen in his left earlobe. Men, especially soldiers, did not pierce their ears in the 1940s.
Lt. Aldo Raine says he is from the Smoky Mountains, and later from Maynardville, Tennessee. Maynardville is not actually in the Smoky Mountains, but in one of the East Tennessee valleys between the mountains (some distance north of the Smoky Mountains).
During the opening scene in France, Landa mentions Reinhard Heydrich as being called "the Hangman" by the people of Prague. This conversation takes place in May 1941. However, Heydrich was appointed Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (which includes Prague) on 27 September 1941. In May 1941, few Czechs likely even knew who Heydrich was.
When the German soldiers are watching the film, "Nation's Pride" in the cinema, a Wilhelm scream can be heard within the film as a sound effect. This sound effect wasn't recorded and used until the 1953 film, "The Charge at Feather River" which was released 9 years after the 'release' of "Nation's Pride", meaning it would have not existed yet.
In the tavern, the Gestapo major demonstrates his knowledge of German accents as if he had a superior talent for it. However, this isn't impressive at all, once you consider that the English language equivalent would be the ability to distinguish between accents from places such as Cornwall, Birmingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh etc.
In the opening scene the small convoy winds up the road to the farm house, all the fields can be seen to be modern crops - not pasture as suggested in the plot - with 'tramlines' where modern sprayers have driven through the wheat, clearly visible.
During the whole movie the character of Diane Kruger is referred as "fräulein" in the subtitles that translate the German language into English. The correct grammar would be "Fräulein", the first letter being a capital. It is a noun like Herr or Frau (Mister or Mistress).
When Shosanna is on the ladder for the second time, before the Germans come to take her, she is cleaning black letters. She cleans 2 different letters, one of them a 'u', another one, and the 'l' remains uncleaned. The next shot you can see only the 'l' has been cleaned.
When Shosanna first meets Zoller, she is taking the red letters of the board at the cinema and throwing them down to a canvas sheet on the ground. The letters move around on the canvas throughout the scene when the camera angles shows Zoller from above.
At various times during the movie the distinctive enamel decorated Perrier-Jouet cuvée Belle Epoque champagne bottle is shown. Although this bottle design was created in 1902 by Emile Galle it was quickly forgotten. In 1964, Pierre Ernst discovered four of these bottles and the design was re-released two years later to celebrate the seventieth birthday of Duke Ellington.
The film playing at the cinema in the first Paris scene is White Hell of Pitz Palu. It is unlikely that in 1944 a silent film made in 1929 would be available or interesting to the soldiers.
In the café scene in which Landa sits across from Raine and Utivich, one of the black studs on Raine's tuxedo shirt is missing but appears in the next shot.
Reflection of camera and operator is visible on the short wave radio mike that Landa's holding when speaking to the American general.
Just before the basement shootout, Major Hellstrom says that it is a pity that "little Max will grow up an orphan", but little Max's mother would still be living (not being anywhere near the basement shootout at the time), so little Max wouldn't be an orphan after all.
The level of beer in the glass, shaped like a boot, of the Nazi-officer in the basement pub, changes between shots.
After the basement bar fight, Landa identifies one of the basterds as Cpl. Wicki, stating/implying that he was a German jew who emigrated to the US before the war. However, Wicki is neither a 'typical' jewish name, nor a German name but in fact a typical (and fairly common) name in Central Switzerland. If he was a Swiss Jew, Wicki would have most probably fled to Switzerland, but Landa doesn't mention anything in this direction concerning Wicki's family name and fate, which seems improbable since Wicki is a foreign sounding name to Germans and since Landa cares to show off his military intelligence.
When Gen Ed Fenech and Lt. Archie Hicox are toasting "down with Hitler", Ed Fenech is holding a folder in his right arm. When the scene changes, he is holding his hands over the glass and, the folder is gone. When the scene changes again, the folder reappears under his arm.
At the end of the movie, Colonel Landa requests the "Congressional Medal of Honor" for himself and the surviving members of the "Inglorious Basterds," However, there is no such award; it is simply the "Medal of Honor." The confusion comes about since it is awarded by the President "in the name of Congress", but the correct terminology is the "Medal of Honor."
Shoshanna bids goodbye to Marcell before he goes behind the screen to light the cellulose and die. But at that point, there's nothing planned for her to do in the projection booth. She could have been with him at the end, unless she was expecting Friedrich's visit.
The Brigitte Horney card on Archie Hilcox's forehead changes direction in between takes.
When Colonel Landa approaches Bridget Von Hammersmark at the premiere the camera shows her with her hands on her hips as she says, "Colonel Landa, it's been years. Dashing as ever I see". In the very next shot she and Landa are holding hands when they kiss on the cheek.
At the start of the film, Landa arrives at the farm with a driver and two armed escorts. Minutes later, at the end of the interrogation, three armed escorts enter the house.