FIB Film Masterclass 4: With Quentin Tarantino

FIB’s Film Masterclass covers a director you’ve certainly heard of before; in episode four we’re talking about Quentin Taratino. The man that brought movie gore, foot fetishes, and wittiness to the cinema screen like no other. 

There is no simple answer when one asks what makes a great director. It can be an array of different factors, from having well-written script, to having a new and distinctive way of shooting scenes. What separates an iconic director from a good director is how their films inspire new generations of filmmakers. The well-known Quentin Tarantino is one of those iconic directors.
He is one of the most famous modern directors – his name alone can sell a movie. Tarantino has a lot of distinctive styles that reoccur in all of his films, and it’s not just female feet. Three big ones off the top of my head are his witty dialogue, his massive amount of blood and violence, and paying tribute to the older films he grew up with. Tarantino is if nothing else a true movie geek.
Even though his styles are distinctive, Quentin Tarantino has been considered a controversial director because of all the intense bloodshed in his films. While it is true that Tarantino’s use of blood is hardly subtle, his films should not be considered instructional videos on how to hurt people in real life. His films are exactly that, just films, and this is clear by how intently preposterous his violence is portrayed in his films. When Marvin’s face explodes like a watermelon in Pulp Fiction, the audience should know the scene is unreal because peoples’ faces do not explode when shot by a small handgun. The other reason Tarantino spatters blood around is because the films he pays tribute to also are know for excessive amounts of violence, like samurai films and spaghetti westerns.
Speaking of Tarantino paying tribute to other films, he has been accused of being unoriginal because of how many elements he takes from other films. But as Picasso once famously said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.
Paul G Roberts
Let’s take a look at what our other FIB Film Team members have to say about Quentin Tarantino’s directorial style:
Rami Slayman
FIB Film Team Leader
Arguably one of the greatest directors of all time, Tarantino revolutionised the roles directors have on set. Wildly known for his leading story telling approaches, immersive sound design, and my personal favourite part about any Tarantino film, the cartoon-like dreamy feels and aesthetics. Tarantino’s films allow the audience to feel as if they are apart of this created world as every technique used is with intention to create a personal connection between plot and audience.
Tarantino’s screenplays and story telling abilities are probably the most advanced and in depth as a director could dream of having. I personally think dialogue in his movies feel the most natural, especially backed by the incredible facial expressions and body language we have seen Tarantino get his actors to portray. He has stated in the past that he chooses to create characters based on real people & personalities he has come across in his real life, which makes for incredible character development and arch. Minute details about a characters back story are gradually uncovered throughout the course of a film and this allows audiences to feel a deep connection with a character; realism and relatability also attribute to this. The slow inevitable breakdown of DiCaprio’s character in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is marvellously depicted in such long excruciating detail throughout the course of the film, through strange cuts that go back and forth between different trains of thought clearly pouring of the characters head. Be prepared to be hooked immediately whenever you sit down and watch a Tarantino film.
Sound design is crucial in any film, diegetic sound can make or break a film and give it a specific type of tone and feel. Tarantino utilises a perfect balance between realistic diagetic sounds in scenes and a hyperbole of cartoon like sounds which when combined allow the scenes to be as creatively depicted as possible while still appearing real and plausible to the audience. Super entertaining, brilliantly placed and exaggerated, and most importantly all purposeful. One thing you can always count on, is the score or soundtrack of a Tarantino film being completely epic and immersive, once again everyone sound having meaning, and gradual addition of layers to synths and strings that create this unique tension you just don’t get in any other film. Films like ‘Inglorious Bastards’ and ‘The Hateful Eight’ depict this really well as the tension is slowly being built up throughout the entire film. That’s one brilliant way to keep an audience’s attention.
To top it all off, a film directed by Tarantino will be one the most cinematic and eccentric watches you may ever come across. He utilises beautiful cinematography that compliments the slow pacing of most of his films to enforce realism while also efficiently using the drawn out scenes to build on characters and plot lines. We see this being utilised throughout films such as ‘Pulp Fiction’ & ‘Django Unchained’. Tarantino loves the use of anime like gore and blood, with vibrant colours often painting an entire scene, this hyperbole allows the feeling that anything is possible and its immersive nature keeps the audience wanting more. Slow motion, beautifully composed shots such as the opening scene of ‘The Hateful Eight’ are also some of Tarantino’s favourite scenes to film and use as introductory shots to settings or character environments and there’s no doubt that the early use of these scenes create an amazing atmospheric feeling that engages the audience.
Tarantino’s unique and innovative directing abilities and portfolio are sure to make him an inspiration to aspiring directors around the globe.
Jayden Vuong
FIB Film Team Member
Quentin Tarantino’s style of film always stands out as innovative in the film industry because of its
character developing and unparalleled worlds. In the example of his most recent film “Once Upon a time
in Hollywood” he conveys a retelling of the Hollywood and the Manson family murders through the
perspectives of two main characters Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. The characters journey in the film was
thrilling to watch in its entirety, the way the characters interacted with each other and the coercion
between characters made the story much more believable and engaging.
Quentin Tarantino’s use of violence across all his movies has given him a reputation for a violence lover.
Violence has a huge presence in his R-rated movie "Kill Bill”, where he mentions violence is engaging and
an act of revenge it shows his passion for story telling and his unconventional approach to film.
The storyline of Quentin Tarantino’s films seems to follow a trend of being in a non-linear format,
additionally the implementation of flashbacks helps shape the plot and keep the audience entertained
throughout the movie. At the time “Pulp Fiction” was released, people were astonished, and Quentin
Tarantino had claimed his status has an Avant-Garde film maker.
Taj Luksic
Fib Film Team Member
Director Quentin Tarantino is an objectively controversial figure. He has been ever since Reservoir Dogs first debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January of 1992. The director doesn’t know how to get out of his own way, loves violence, however he has moments of true cinematic greatness that cannot be ignored. One such example is Inglorious Basterdsa film that combines his bloodlust, style, and love for cinema in a constructive outlet. The film is my favourite of Tarantino‘s, which may be disputed by others who favour Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, as Basterds oozes with my favourite Tarantino landmarks, including quippy dialogue, a willingness to let seemingly important characters bite the dust, and some truly great moments of tension built from dialogue. All of Tarantino‘s films stylistically employ these landmarks to an extent, drawing millions of audiences to his films as they want to see how Tarantino will employ these landmarks into the next new world…
Jake Bugeja
FIB Film Team Member
Quentin Tarantino’s filmmaking style is somewhat difficult to break down properly in the same way that you might with most Directors. That’s not to say that his style is difficult to identify, and especially with the first half of his catalogue, the very opposite is true. Tarantino is notorious for “quoting” other films in his own, very often shot composition, which can be seen perhaps most plainly in his earlier films.
Examples include the camera position in the car of Vince and Mia’s date in Pulp Fiction (1994), in reference to The Graduate (1963), directed by Mike Nichols. There are also more references to classic Westerns in Kill Bill Vol. 1 alone to make a fairly sizeable list.
In addition to this use of reference/homage, he also rarely hires a composer to score his films, instead preferring to create a soundtrack of existing songs, and carefully selects them for appropriate songs. In this approach is perhaps hidden his true style. He is an expert at amalgamating various influences into a piece of art that carries his unique perspective.
One way in which he embellishes the borrowed pieces of his films is with his unmistakable dialogue. It has long been agreed by film fans that Tarantino is one of the greatest subtext writers of all time. The best case study in this regard has to be Pulp Fiction, the film in which the characters only ever talk about anything but what the scene is actually about. A casual discourse about the taste of burgers is really an interrogation scene. The captivating ‘non-flirting’ during Vince and Mia’s date scene which evolves into something more reminiscent of a Mexican standoff in a Spaghetti Western film. Tarantino’s ability to pull you into the stakes of his films while never really telling you in explicit detail what you’re supposed to be following is part of his individual mastery of the craft. He continues to push his own boundaries with each new film he releases, and if he really is going to stop after his 10th one, it’s very likely he’ll leave a nearly flawless run as a Film Director.
Eugene Walsh
FIB Film Team Member
Quentin Tarantino is the master of tension in film, which he builds through expertly-written
dialogue and auteur style of cinematography and editing.
Dialogue is crucial to a Tarantino film. It is sharp and witty. This draws to mind characters like
Colonel Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds) and The Bride (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2), arguably two of
the greatest characters to come out of Tarantino’s work. In the opening scene of Inglourious
Basterds, the dialogue between Mr. Lapadite and Landa establishes the latter’s character and
purpose in the story. Dialogue, spoken in French, German and English, is delivered by Landa for the
majority of the runtime. This establishes a power dynamic. It is this dynamic that makes the scene
equally enjoyable and tense to watch as it unfolds.
This is just one example of many from his films. How the characters interact with each other is
without question my favourite part of any Tarantino film.
Building on the characters and the dialogue, a Tarantino scene will often involve a blend of long
takes and quick close-ups. The longer takes are reserved for dialogue and tension-building
scenarios, while action, often abrupt and violent, is depicted in the sharp cuts. Close-ups are also
often cut between dialogue to draw attention to objects of significance in a scene. If we take the
example of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino’s most recent work, longer takes make up
the majority of the film while quick close-ups permeate the brutal and climactic final scene. This
blend of cinematographic and editing techniques bounce off each other seamlessly on the silver
screen, and make for a viewing experience which entrances again and again.
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