Why Quentin Tarantino Will Only Make 10 Movies

Time and again in inter­views, Quentin Taran­ti­no has straight-faced­ly declared that he will retire from film­mak­ing after his tenth fea­ture. He may already have reached that num­ber with 2019’s Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood, depend­ing on whether each part of Kill Bill counts as a sep­a­rate film. If not, we have one more Taran­ti­no pic­ture to look for­ward to. His dec­la­ra­tion of immi­nent retire­ment is unusu­al and even dispir­it­ing giv­en that he’s still in his late fifties, an age that has found many auteurs at the peak of their pow­ers. What lies behind it is the sub­ject of the short video above from Evan Puschak, bet­ter known as the Nerd­writer.

“I like the idea that there is an umbil­i­cal cord con­nect­ed to my first film, all the way to my last, and that is my body of work,” says Taran­ti­no in one of the inter­view clips includ­ed. “A bad film on the fil­mog­ra­phy affects good films.” Being known not just as a promi­nent direc­tor but an obses­sive cinephile, Taran­ti­no can sure­ly name off the top of his head dozens of mas­ter film­mak­ers who allowed their own bod­ies of work to be blem­ished.

“Artists don’t always notice when their skills are flag­ging,” as Puschak puts it. “Taran­ti­no is leav­ing ear­ly to pre­vent cross­ing that line unwit­ting­ly.” Though spec­u­la­tive, this notion has hard­ly been con­tra­dict­ed by the direc­tor’s own words.

Puschak writes about the pow­er of the oeu­vre — an artist’s body of work tak­en as a whole, even as an art­work in itself — in his new book Escape into Mean­ing. The con­tent of this video reflects only the first sec­tion of that essay, a med­i­ta­tion on what it means to con­sid­er every­thing a cre­ator has made as a piece of an inter­con­nect­ed whole. The tech­niques, ref­er­ences, themes, and obses­sions that recur promi­nent­ly in Taran­ti­no’s movies make his fil­mog­ra­phy prac­ti­cal­ly invite such an analy­sis, as well the ques­tion asked by Puschak: “Can a well-designed fil­mog­ra­phy bestow greater mean­ing onto the films that make it up?” No mat­ter how many more works Taran­ti­no will make, and what­ev­er form they take, the whole of his exist­ing oeu­vre assures us that all of them will be thor­ough­ly Taran­tin­ian.

Relat­ed con­tent:

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

How Quentin Taran­ti­no Shoots a Film at 3 Dif­fer­ent Bud­get Lev­els: Reser­voir Dogs ($1 Mil­lion), Pulp Fic­tion ($8 Mil­lion), and Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood ($95 Mil­lion)

Quentin Tarantino’s Copy­cat Cin­e­ma: How the Post­mod­ern Film­mak­er Per­fect­ed the Art of the Steal

How Quentin Taran­ti­no Remix­es His­to­ry: A Brief Study of Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood

Quentin Taran­ti­no Releas­es His First Nov­el: A Pulpy Nov­el­iza­tion of Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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 or on Face­book.

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