Some may refer to Quentin Tarantino as a film director and others as a modern day hero. In the film industry Tarantino has successfully maintained his status by creating many unpredictable violent films such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir dogs, Django Unchained, Inglorious Bastards and many more. Tarantino’s use of violence and bloodshed in his thriller movies allow us to emotionally connect to his films and plots, as violence is known to be one of the most entertaining visuals in film production. Tarantino is well known for his use of realism and his diverse ethic of how his films may seem to his audience. As an artist, Tarantino combines his landscapes, music, shots and other key elements that with his thriller genre successfully portray his true auteur style films.
When discussing the auteur theory and creativity the first film director that comes to mind is Quentin Tarantino. His unique screenwriting and dialogue allow his scenes to be made up of bursts of energy and creative shots to allow his audience to emotionally dive in and connect to his films. His artistic nature of violence and storytelling in film create a diegetic ambience that creates an emotional gravitational pull into his story promoting his symptomatic meaning of the film. His use of mis-en-scene creates settings and connects to realist theories where he brings his story to life. He uses a variety of camera angles and shots to capture graphic unpredictable bloodshed in his films that create cinematic meanings that manipulate our understanding of the film to help us understand what emotional connections Tarantino wants to draw from his audience.
The auteur theory was originally created in French film criticism in the late 1940s as a value system that referred to filmmakers or directors with recognizable style and thematic ethics. This auteur theory was introduced and modified by Andrew Sarris who created this Americanized definition of this key concept that represented the use of a single filmmaker or director to collaboratively control all elements of the film. Tarantino has expressed technical competence in all of his films and raised the bar since the concept was first introduced. He connects all of his films using shots and camera angles to evidently show his creative unity across all of his films, an example could be his use of naturally existing frames such as doorways and windows to capture key moments of his films. That being said, Tarantino utilizes his auteur skills to connect his audience emotions and diegesis of the film to make them feel like they could be in the film themselves, such as the famous Trunk shot in Pulp Fiction where the camera was in the trunk and looking up and out at Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta to add the anxious sensation of feeling dominated to his audience.
Tarantino uses many other auteur elements in his films to grab the audience’s attention such as his use of quick editing cuts of hands in action and also his unique use of close up shots where the main identity in the frame is untraditionally facing away from the camera. Tarantino developed his signature film style as he group up working in theatres and as a video store clerk where he has used all genres he grew up with collaboratively to make the most unpredictable source of art and entertainment for his viewers. He utilizes Western, martial arts, anime horror and even French New Wave along with pop soundtracks to allow the audience to implicit and cinematic meanings within his films. These subtle artistic modifications create a whole new level of “Auteur” and set his films apart from others within his genre. The use of realism in his films are what truly makes his work so amazing as the emotions shared through the film are all done with tools from the world itself. Tarantino successfully reveals his persona in his films as his passion for film production truly comes from his soul and his own knowledge and understanding of the world and the medium of film itself. Tarantino’s use of non-linear storylines are another key to his auteur style as he combines time, locations and character status to bring scenes to life with the combination of multiple scenes to add ideological meaning to the timeline of the film.
In Django: Unchained and Inglorious Bastards, the use of graphic violence, historical themes and elements clearly state that it is without a doubt a Tarantino classic. These films both use political levels to create obvious protagonists and antagonists such as Jews and slaves as well as Nazis and white supremacy’s. Both films stories are focused on the revenge on the leaders of the oppressive regimes and show brutal violent close-up shots of the action to emotionally grab the audience’s attention. The use of the “N” word is used frequently to emphasize the hatred this era actually distilled upon the black folk. This auteur style created by Tarantino utilizes the props and mis-en-scene to show the different landscapes and expand our knowledge of settings and surroundings of key events.
Tarantino’s use of POV shots, long takes and tracking shots also truly represent works of Tarantino himself as he adds symbolic, explicit and implicit meanings such as the corpse POV emphasizing the angle of a dead body. This famous shot was used in Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Till Dawn, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill as well as Death Proof. Tarantino uses particular POV angles to emphasize the emotion of the subject such as Gods eye POV in Jackie Brown when she hides the money in her bag in the airport restroom, in Kill Bill V2 during part of the fight in the House of the Blue Leaves. Tarantino uses key 360 shots in Resevoir Dogs during the opening diner scene in the beginning of the film and in Jackie Brown during the sequence at the mall. Another unique part of Tarantino’s films are the violent awakening shots in Pulp Fiction when Mia Wallace wakes after her heroin overdose and also in Kill Bill when the Bride wakes from her coma. Tarantino also has recurring themes such as fetishes I have noticed across some films such as the close up shot of the lips and of the feet in Pulp Fiction with Mia on the microphone and Kill Bill when the Bride is speaking. His foot fetishes stand out in films like Pulp Fiction, Death Proof, Kill Bill and especially in From Dusk Till Dawn when he drinks tequila off of Salma Hayek’s feet. Lastly, Tarantino uniquely used mirror shots in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, True Romance and many other of his films which link them all together as Tarantino films.
Furthermore, Tarantino has a passion for torture scenes to add thrill and bloodshed to his stories. In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Blonde cuts Marvin Nash’s ear off, in True Romance Clarences father is beaten by Don Vincezo Coccotti and finally in Pulp Fiction, Butch Coolidge and Marsellus Wallace are both tortured by Maynard and Zed. That being said, Tarantino consistently uses certain settings such as bathrooms, bars, cars, restaurants and many more to capture key scenes in his films. Another noticeable consistency in his films are the props he uses like black and white suits, Elvis TCB sunglasses, samurai swords, gasoline cans, straight razors and drug containers. All of these elements of film can help any audience clearly identify that these are true works of art by Tarantino himself.
I believe Tarantino is as much of an artist as people like Warhol, Da Vinci, Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre as they all create art that emotionally connects to their audience and tells their own story through their preferred medium. All of these artists listed above share their historical context as well as their use of realism. The definition of art is: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. That being said you can understand how I believe Tarantino is in my eyes is such a big artistic icon. His audience is emotionally sucked into his films with his thriller and violent genre where explicit bloodshed, suspense and western settings create unpredictable entertainment for his viewers. The elements utilized in his films such as camera angles, music, dialogue are used in such an unorthox manner that create a symptomatic meaning for his audience which was what Tarantino truly wanted in order to tell his stories from his perspective.