"My name is Shosanna Dreyfus and THIS is the face... of Jewish vengeance!" ― Shosanna Dreyfus[source]
Shosanna Dreyfus, going under the alias Emmanuelle Mimieux, is one of the main protagonists in Quentin Tarantino's 6th film, Inglourious Basterds. She decides to take revenge on the nazis after they killed her family. She is the owner of Le Gamaar Cinema. After some turn of events made her cinema the venue of the premiering of Stolz der Nation, she hatches a plan, independent of the American commando known as The Basterds, to eliminate the Nazi top command. She died with Fredrick Zoller in the cinema's projector room. Throughout the film, she mostly speaks French but she only spoke English once during her address towards the Germans on the movie screen, in which the Nazis are later killed by the Basterds.
Chapter One - Once upon a time... in Nazi-occupied France
In 1941, SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa was going to search for Jews in Perrier LaPadite's farm where Shosanna and her family are hiding under the floor boards. Once Perrier LaPadite unwillingly told the location the Jews to Hans Landa, the SS colonel brings his Nazi soldiers kill to the Dreyfus family. Shosanna was the only surving member of the family and managed to escape outside the house and had run off to the distance. Landa pointed his Walther P38 to her, only to change his mind, instead he shouted "Au revoir, Shosanna!".
Chapter Three - GERMAN NIGHT IN PARIS
Shosanna later assumed the alias of Emmanuelle Mimieux and went to inherit the Parisian Le Gamaar Cinema from a sympathetic theater owner, Madame Ada Mimieux, who teaches her how to run and operate the theater. During a night in June 1944, four years after the massacre of her family, she encountered a German soldier named Fredrick Zoller, while she was changing the templates. Not interested to speak with him at all, she tried to avoid any conversation, visibly agitated.
The next day, she encounters him again in a bistro, where she is smoking and reading a book. She again rebuffs him, telling him that if he wants a French girlfriend he should try Vichy. He tells her that he's more than a uniform, but she says not to her. Before Zoller has a chance to speak, a German officer, who introduces himself as Captain Wolfgang, enters and shakes his hand, while being amazed that he met him. Shosanna is intrigued, and immediately another German officer, [Frazer|Walter Frazer] and a French girl enter and ask him for an autograph. She learns that Zoller is a war hero, and that Joseph Goebbels is planning to make a propaganda film based on his deeds, called Stolz der Nation. After a short discussion, she becomes angry and leaves.
Some time later, while she was working on the cinema templates, a car stops and a Gestapo Major gets down. He calls her down, telling her she must come with them. Believing that her cover is blown, she reluctantly comes with him. She is instead escorted at a restaurant, where many high-ranking Nazi officers were having lunch. She is greeted by Zoller and meets Goebbels himself, French actress and translator Francesca Mondino, as well as the Gestapo Major who brought her there, Dieter Hellstrom. Zoller persuade Goebbels to move the premiering of Stolz Der Nation to her cinema, despite it being half the size of the Ritz. When Goebbels tells her he first wants to see a film before he can decide, Hans Landa arrives at the table. He kisses her hand, while she recalls some not very pleasant memories, visibly agitated. Landa sits at the table after the others leave and orders some strudel for both as well as a glass of milk for her. He begins to ask her about her cinema and before he leaves he tells her there's another thing he wanted to ask her. Thinking her cover is about to be blown for real, she pauses for a moment, with her cigarette in her hand, but then Landa changes his mind and kisses her hand before leaving. She immediately begins to breathe heavily, and almost cries when she realises how close she was to being discovered. After the film screening, Goebbels asks her if she liked "Lucky Kids", she says that she liked Lillian Harvey, which causes Goebbels to rant her name, and to never mention her name in his presence. Back in the cinema, she comes up with a plan, with her reluctant lover and assistant Marcel, to burn the Nazi High Command in the premiere night, thanks to her 350 nitrate film collection. She also asks him if the filming equipment still works, as she plans to make a film just for the Nazis.
Back in the cinema, Shosanna has a plan. With the help of her lover, Marcel, they plan to burn down the whole theater with all the Nazis with it.
Chapter Five - REVENGE OF THE GIANT FACE
Shosanna is seen in her room, by her window, looking down at the street, obviously at the incoming Nazi crowd. As she prepares for the show, we see a flashback of her plan: she records herself, then she and Marcel kidnap a French movie developer and force him to develop their film into a reel film; Shosanna then has the film treated and edited into one of the movie's film reels, replacing one of Zoller's dialogue scenes with her message of vengeance.
She sends Marcel backstage of the movie as the movie is playing to be prepared to burn it down. As she is handling the projectors during the premiere, Zoller comes up to see her. She unlocks the door for him, she tells him to leave and he can't be in, but Fredrick forces his way inside, which hurts Shosanna. Fredrick threatens her and asserts his dominance by saying he, because of his status, is a person you can't say no to. Shosanna tells Zoller to lock door, he agrees and locks the door. As he locks the door, Shosanna shoots Zoller in the back three times with a pistol. She continues with her plan, but then then she sees that Zoller is limbering and still alive. Feeling remorseful, she goes to check on Zoller, but then Fredrick takes out a pistol and then shoots Shosanna in the stomach three times. As she's on the ground, bleeding out, Zoller, still laying on the ground, shoots Shosanna in the stomach again, and both die.
Meanwhile, as the film is still playing, the film cuts to the recorded film, with Shosanna stating that the viewers will all die. Before Adolf Hitler can cut the projection, Shosanna tells Marcel to burn the cinema down, Marcel then throws a cigarette at the screen. After the flames appear, the audience panics and tries to escape, but as Shosanna's image laughs, Donny Donowitz and Omar Ulmer rush in and begin shooting at the crowd, from Hitler's opera box. They manage to gun down many Nazi high officials before the cinema gets destroyed by the explosion, killing everyone inside, including themselves.
Shosanna is a rather serious woman, and is also very brave and resourceful. She hates Nazis with a passion, largely due to the fact that one was responsible for the death of her family. This also shows that she's pretty loyal to her family and even willing to die for her family, but she's also willing to bring the Nazi regime to justice. Shosanna is similar to "Prince Hamlet", because of her will to bring the wicked people to justice, but also because she wanted to get her vengeance. Also, like Hamlet, she died while getting her vengeance, and also destroyed everything in her way. A example of this is her cold behaviour towards Zoller, who was trying to prove his love towards her. An apparent moment of pity and dropping her guard is what led to her ultimate demise. Despite this, she still could be considered as a heroine because of her efforts to bring down the evil Nazi regime, thus saving many people in the process.
Behind the Scenes
Shosanna Dreyfus was portrayed by Mélanie Laurent.
Quentin Tarantino met Mélanie Laurent in three rounds and played all the characters on the first. On the second one, he shared the lines with her, and the third one, it was dinner face-to-face. During the dinner, he told Laurent, "Do you know something-there's just something I don't like. It's that you're famous in your country, and I'm really wanting to discover somebody." Laurent replied "No, no, no. ... I'm not so famous." And after four days he called and finalized her for the role of Shosanna.
When she talked about her role, she said: "When I read the script of 'Inglourious Basterds', I was like, wow, it's been my dream to kill Hitler since I was like four so I was kind of like Shosanna already. I'm Jewish. I read the script together with my grandfather and he told me, 'You have to make that movie, please.' So it was not just for me, it was for my family".
To prepare for her role, Mélanie Laurent worked as a film projectionist for a few weeks at New Beverly Cinema, projecting mostly cartoons and trailers before shows. The real test set by Quentin Tarantino was for her to screen Reservoir Dogs.
Shosanna Dreyfus is named after actress Julie Dreyfus, who appears in the film as Francesco Mondino.
- In earlier drafts of the screenplay Shosanna was a much more active member of the French resistance, sniping soldiers from rooftops and even compiling a death list of high ranking Nazi officials to cross off. But when Quentin Tarantino did his "Kill Bill" series, he put those plot details into that story, and decided it was redundant, so instead he decided to make Shosanna a more realistic character and have her keep a low profile.
- The name Emmanuelle Mimieux is a reference both the erotic Emmanuelle film series and American B-movie actress, Yvette Mimieux.
- The "tomboy" look sported by Shosanna when seen removing the film letters and in particular her own "baker boy" cap are reminiscent of the kid character in 1921 Charlie Chaplin's film cited by Zoller during the first conversation with Shosanna in front of the cinema.
- The look of Shosanna in the final scene is inspired by that of Veronika Voss, character in the 1982 movie of the same name, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The protagonist of the said film, in turn, was inspired by the figure of Sybille Schmitz, German actress well known at the time of the Third Reich.
- In the original ending, Shosanna's movie for the Nazis was supposed to be in French. Mélanie Laurent was the one who suggested to Quentin Tarantino that it should be done in English to make the finale more powerful.
- In the script, Shosanna mentions that she was born in the region of Nancy.
- Shosanna is barefoot during the final scenes in the projection room.
- Zoller claims he killed 250 Allied soldiers in Sicily in three days. Shosanna killed 350 Germans in one night.
- In Shosanna's fake papers, it's shown that she chose her birthday as 18th of May 1926. Since the last chapters take place in June 1944, this would mean she was barely 18, while Shosanna's real age was 21-22 (LaPadite says she was 18-19 in 1941). While not necessarily a big problem, her choice to lower her real age was risky, especially as she just inherited a cinema and that could draw unnecessary attention.