Shosanna Dreyfus is, in as few words as possible, a bombshell. Shosanna is one of the leads of Inglorious Basterds, and she is arguably the downfall of The Third Reich. Shosanna is one of the best female characters because she complexly manages to be a woman in love and a woman with a heart full of hatred at the same time. She has our sympathy and yet satisfies the craving to destroy the people who hurt her completely. One review said “Tarantino could have made that movie, and it would have been exciting, violent, bloody and thrilling. But it would have been lacking a soul. The Basterds are not sympathetic characters. To make a movie solely about them would be the same as following ten serial killers as they torture and kill people for 90 minutes. Inglorious Basterds needs a soul, and it’s provided by Shosanna Dreyfus, played by Melanie Laurent.” Shosanna is the reason that we hate “The Jew Hunter” so very much. We are with her when he kills her family, and we want revege almost as much as she does.
Shosanna is a strong woman. She manages to escape the death of her family intact, and finds a new identity. She takes over a movie theater and lives her life there under the radar. Her conflict in the movie is not the traditional “female” conflict of finding love, although a German soldier does pursue her. (But Shosanna uses her suitor to get to her hated enemy the Jew Hunter). Her problem is not finding a career, because she already has that. Shosanna operates underground, with the help of her lover. And with single-minded determination she manages to take the Third Reich, her movie theater, and her life, down together. We usually look at characters that overcome things or have special powers or live to fight another day. Shosanna does none of these things. She is a regular woman and a secret hero. Not even the Basterds know she exists, and her lover, her partner in crime, dies with her. Her one heroic act is silent and the loudest news to cross telephone lines. Although she is far from perfect, I would have to call her a heroine.