An Analysis of Quentin Tarantino’s Films Narrated (Mostly) by Quentin Tarantino

For near­ly thir­ty years, the work of Quentin Taran­ti­no has inspired copi­ous dis­cus­sion among movie fans. Some of the most copi­ous dis­cus­sion, as well as some of the most insight­ful, has come from no less avid a movie fan than Taran­ti­no him­self. Every cinephile has long since known that the man who made Reser­voir Dogs, Pulp Fic­tion, and Jack­ie Brown — and more recent­ly pic­tures like Djan­go Unchained, The Hate­ful Eight, and Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood — is one of their own. Now the sub­ject of numer­ous video essays, Taran­ti­no could, in anoth­er life, have become that medi­um’s fore­most prac­ti­tion­er. In the Now You See It video essay above, we have the next best thing: an analy­sis of Taran­ti­no’s work nar­rat­ed, for the most part, by the man him­self.

“It’s as if a cou­ple of movie-crazy young French­men were in a cof­fee house, and they’ve tak­en a banal Amer­i­can crime nov­el and they’re mak­ing a movie out of it based not on the nov­el, but on the poet­ry they’ve read between the lines.” So goes New York­er crit­ic Pauline Kael’s review of Jean-Luc Godard­’s Bande à part — as remem­bered by Taran­ti­no in an inter­view in the 2000s.

These and oth­er such clips com­prise “Quentin Taran­ti­no and the Poet­ry Between the Lines,” or at least they com­prise the parts that don’t come straight from Taran­ti­no’s films or the films that inspired them. From Bande à part Taran­ti­no took not just the name of his pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny but also the imper­fect style of danc­ing he had John Tra­vol­ta and Uma Thur­man show off in Pulp Fic­tion, one of the many acts of cin­e­mat­ic “steal­ing” to which he glad­ly cops.

In describ­ing the rule-break­ing work of Godard, the first big cinephile-film­mak­er, Kael inad­ver­tent­ly bestowed a rev­e­la­tion upon Taran­ti­no: “That’s my aes­thet­ic!” he remem­bers think­ing. “That’s what I want to achieve!” That goal has inspired Taran­ti­no to a num­ber of acts of cul­tur­al trans­po­si­tion, and this video essay also brings togeth­er the com­ments sev­er­al oth­er fig­ures have made about his achieve­ment: Inglou­ri­ous Bas­ter­ds star Christoph Waltz remarks on the char­ac­ter­is­tic way that Taran­ti­no, “the prod­uct of the cul­ture that made the West­ern pos­si­ble at all,” would “take the genre once removed into the Ital­ian and bring it back to Amer­i­ca” as he does in his repa­tri­at­ed spaghet­ti West­ern The Hate­ful Eight. To that pic­ture, and to Quentin Taran­ti­no’s greater cin­e­mat­ic project, applies the obser­va­tion Gene Siskel made on Pulp Fic­tion just as it was becom­ing a cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non in its own right: “Like all great films, it crit­i­cizes oth­er movies.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Quentin Taran­ti­no Steals from Oth­er Movies: A Video Essay

Quentin Taran­ti­no Explains How to Write & Direct Movies

Quentin Taran­ti­no Picks the 12 Best Films of All Time; Watch Two of His Favorites Free Online

The Pow­er of Food in Quentin Tarantino’s Films

How Jean-Luc Godard Lib­er­at­ed Cin­e­ma: A Video Essay on How the Great­est Rule-Break­er in Film Made His Name

How the French New Wave Changed Cin­e­ma: A Video Intro­duc­tion to the Films of Godard, Truf­faut & Their Fel­low Rule-Break­ers

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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