Samantha Mason, Fiction Panelist and Fundraising Co-Manager
As a self proclaimed movie buff, there’s a good chance that I’ll always be able to passionately participate in a conversation about any film under the sun. That being said, I of course have my favorites – and with favorite movies come favorite directors. To me, there is no director who comes close to the work of Quentin Tarantino. Not only does Tarantino direct all his films, but he also writes them, casts them, and does much more. Tarantino is one of the few creative minds who envisions a world and immediately generates it on his own accord, which is very commendable. Personally, I am very envious of him as I believe there is no better career.
While it is inarguable that Tarantino has essentially created his own genre, as he has developed a very distinct cinematic style, most wouldn’t believe that he actually has resurrected many classic genres from the past. A movie buff as well, Tarantino is very attracted to various forms of cinema and has yearned to portray the impact said forms have made on him through his own creations. So, while many fans believe that they are admirers of the Tarantino genre, they are actually interested in classic styles. Thus, writers, especially those interested in screenwriting, can learn a thing or two from how this renowned director plays together with the past and present. Although Tarantino has done an excellent job advancing the film industry with innovative cinematic tools, he also is a great example of how history is always repeating itself – he is evidence that classics are timeless.
The French New Wave
Untraditional Film Conventions and Radical Experimentation
Of his eight iconic films, Reservoir Dogs was Tarantino’s grand debut. In his early years, Tarantino was very intrigued by the outrageousness of the French New Wave – his favorite film from the period being Bande A Parte – and itched to emulate it in his own pieces. This radical style was perfectly reflected in the equally radical plotline of the dynamics seen between criminals of a failed jewelry heist. Between the crass dialogue, the contrasting soundtrack, and the twisting of events, this outlandish style was what hooked fans on Tarantino, thinking that the up-and-coming director had created a fresh approach to films.
Much like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, which is arguably Tarantino’s most revered film, epitomizes the goal of French New Wave filmmakers. To top his last fanatical film, Tarantino collected the least likely of characters and threw them together in a whirlwind crime story. The combination of mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a two diner criminals makes for the most absurdly random film. With sporadic sequences and unforeseen scenes, Pulp Fiction embodies exactly what the French New Wave was in a more modern story. Writers interested in developing something revolutionary, and one of a kind, can be easily inspired by Tarantino’s personal take on the French New Wave.
Martial Arts Films, Samurai Cinema, and Blaxploitation Films
Blaxploitation films emerged in the early 1970s being heavily influenced by the black power movement. They were the first of their kind to showcase black characters as heroes and the main roles of a film. Since it has been invented, this specific grindhouse cinema genre has aimed to speak about bold subjects such as violence, sex, drug trade, and other stunning topics. Tarantino successfully contributed to this genre, with many fans not realizing it, with a plot that deals with many of these shocking affairs. Jackie Brown, although being a clear Tarantino creation, is undoubtedly a blaxploitation film.
Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2 epitomize samurai films. A samurai film can be characterized by many distinct qualities such as having samurai warriors, sword fighting, and the essential action packed characters. These films developed in the silent and prewar eras. Tarantino successfully resurrects all that Samurai films entailed through these two movies, each centering around an assassin seeking brutal revenge on her former team of assassins who tried to kill her. With sharp takes, thrilling action scenes, and the use of all the samurai tools, Tarantino brought back a classic genre, creating a large following for it in the modern cinematic world. Writers intrigued by iconic generational staples can learn a lot from Tarantino’s version of cult classics.
Films set in the American Old West often about a Cowboy or Gunfighter
Set in 1858 in America’s old south, Django Unchained encompasses every element necessary for a strong Western piece. The story centers around Django Freeman, an enslaved man setting out to rescue his wife, and Dr. King Schultz, the crafty German man who aids him on his quest. The film includes an array of gory gun scenes, horseback travel, cowboy wear, and everything else that constitutes a Western. With his modern cinematic technology and flare for contemporary comedy, Tarantino is able to bring back Westerns in a way that can appeal to current audiences.
Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, takes place in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. Set in the 1870s, eight so-called strangers all set out to Red Rock, Wyoming, but are thwarted by the snowstorm that leads them all to a haberdashery just several miles outside the town. This film takes place in the Old West and has many characters who embody Western roles. Some of these include a cowpuncher, bounty hunters, a hangman, and a sheriff, to name a few. Tarantino revives this Western with cinematic touches that differ from Django Unchained such as incorporating a theatrical style and a twisted mystery. The Hateful Eight is an extraordinary example of how Tarantino has evolved Westerns. Writers interested in this dominating American genre, can use Tarantino’s two successful Westerns as ways to infuse their own artistic style into a classic.
Cinema is a special form of art, as it brings to life all of the ideas we can put into words or on paper. Certain film genres such as The French New Wave, Grindhouse Cinema, and Westerns convey styles that people have timelessly connected to, proving their dominating presence in the history of American artwork. While it is important for writers to perpetually produce fresh and innovative projects, inspiration from the great works of the past is what allows for the development of exceptional pieces. Tarantino does an excellent job of enriching such artistic forms and allows generations to come to experience staples of America in new, yet traditional way. For writers who are looking to meld the art they admire with their own authentic style, Quentin Tarantino can easily aid in the quest.