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One thing I always wondered about Inglourious Basterds is, why the famous actress Bridget von Hammersmark has such an unusual name (and which nobody else in the movie seems to find unusual). Her last name is classically German, yet she bears a very English forename, one that would never have been used in Germany right away. While in nowadays' globalized world and especially American-influenced German culture this wouldn't be totally uncommon, at that time it would have been completely unusual.

So is there any further information why that name was chosen for her? While this might have been an arbitrary decision and there might not be much more to this, it could also be that this name is a reference to somebody else or has some deeper meaning to it. Or maybe it was just a foreshadowing of her work for the British empire (one that nobody else noticed, though).

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Isn't Hammersmark a Norwegian name? I'm quite sure that my family aren't German. –  Kristine Marie Hammersmark Mar 9 at 16:45
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@KristineMarieHammersmark It sounds German enough for a movie targeted at an English speaking audience and the parts are German words also (IMHO the "s" is a little bit strange here but not completely uncommon, e.g. real name "von Donnersmarck"). Both languages are closely related, and especially with names there was a lot of transfer (e.g. through the Hanse or via nobility, the current royal family of Norway derives from the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg). But I didn't found a German bearing this name, so yes, it seems to be a movie reality only. –  his Mar 10 at 9:36

2 Answers 2

I found an article in the German newspaper Die Welt from 2009 "Quentin Tarantinos Spaß mit obskuren Namen" (Quentin Tarantinos fun with strange names):

WELT ONLINE: Diane Kruger ist Bridget von Hammersmark, deutscher Filmstar und englische Agentin. Bridget/Brigitte klingt schon deutsch genug. Und dann noch "von Hammersmark". Das deutet sehr auf einen gewissen "Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck".

Tarantino: Das ist nun wirklich ein völliger Zufall!

WELT ONLINE: Meinen Sie wirklich!?

Tarantino: Als man mich zum ersten Mal auf diese Ähnlichkeit aufmerksam machte, fragte ich mich, ob ich den Namen so belassen sollte. Ich denke, von Donnersmarck sollte erst noch ein paar weitere Filme drehen, bevor ich ihm den Namen einer meiner Charaktere spendiere. Ich habe mich dann gegen eine Änderung entschieden, weil ich das Wort so schlagend finde: "Hammer!" Hammermäßig!

Rough translation (with the help of google, links added by me ;) ):

WELT ONLINE: Diane Kruger is Bridget von Hammersmark, German movie star and British agent. Bridget / Brigitte does sound German enough. And then "von Hammersmark." This points to a very certain "Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck."

Tarantino: This really is a complete coincidence!

WELT ONLINE: You really think so?

Tarantino: When I was made ​​aware of this similarity for the first time, I wondered whether I should leave the name that way. I think von Donnersmarck should only turn a few more movies before I'll buy him the name of one of my characters. I then decided against a change because I find so striking the words: "Hammer" Hammermäßig!

In German Hammer is the same as the English hammer. Beside the tool, you can use it also more literally. Hammermäßig ("Das ist der Hammer") is English That's just about the limit.

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Yet this article seems to totally miss her absolutely unusual forename, she wasn't called Brigitte, no it was Bridget. Interesting interview on all those various names, though. –  Sonny Burnett Oct 18 '13 at 21:27

The best I can find is that the various inspirations for the character were Ilona Massey, Zarah Leander, and Marlene Dietrich. Otherwise I can't find anything describing a reason for why the name Bridget was chosen, so it appears to simply be arbitrary.

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