Genre of Violence

         I chose to write my final essay on Quentin Tarantino. In my opinion he is the best screen player writer to emerge from the nineties decade. His directing style is also unique because one can see so many influential shots of his that he has stolen off of historical directors. The most impressive fact about Tarantino to me is that he never went to any film school; he simply worked at a movie store for five years and educated himself.

         The first actual full length feature script that Tarantino ever wrote was titled True Romance. He sold the script for a Writer's Guild minimum of thirty thousand dollars in 1989 because he could not find to invest money in his project. The movie was eventually filmed and directed by Tony Scott in 1993, and I believe he did a wonderful job with the project. The next two scripts Tarantino wrote around the same time of his young career were titled Natural Born Killers, and Reservoir Dogs. Oliver Stone eventually directed Natural Born Killers, while Reservoir Dogs was Tarantino's directorial debut.

         Tarantino would have never found the money to make his first feature if he had not met a young up and coming producer named Lawrence Bender. Bender, who was trying to become an actor at the time, liked the script so much that he gave a copy of it to his acting teacher. The teacher liked it so much that he gave a copy to Harvey Keitel's wife, who eventually convinced her husband to read the script. After reading the Reservoir Dogs script, Harvey Keitel liked it so much that he not only helped Tarantino to get it made, but he also stared in the film. Tarantino made the film for under two hundred thousand dollars, and it was originally released in 1992.

         Even though the film was not an American success at first, it was highly recognized in several other countries and especially Britain. All critics could talk about was how violent the film was and how sharp its dialogue was. Tarantino is arguably one of the best dialogue writers in film history because his dialogue is very street-influenced, which makes characters seem extremely real. The scene that was most critically acclaimed from the film is the cop torture scene, in which Michael Madison's character Mr. Blonde cuts off a police officer's ear. What makes the scene so memorable to me is the fact that Tarantino chose to pan the camera away and not show the actually slicing of the ear. What is also striking is the fact of how crazy the Mr. Blonde character is because he is actually enjoying what he is doing. It is impossible for any viewers to forget when Mr. Blonde is dancing around to Stuck in the Middle with You, while he is torturing the cop, after they watch this film.

         Lawrence Bender became Tarantino's partner producer, and they have teamed up to make three more features so far in both of their young careers. The second film Tarantino directed was Pulp Fiction, which is his most successful, and in my opinion best work to date. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1994, making Tarantino's name the talk of Hollywood. The only award the film won was for best original screenplay, but still the film became an instant cult classic. The scene most film fans and critics will always remember from this film is the overdose scene in which Uma Thurman's character Mia Wallace snorts heroine and takes an adrenaline shot to restart her heart. This scene is so real to me because it is about something that everyone knows really happens, but many other directors would not have had the guts to show it.

         Tarantino worked on two other projects before he directed his third feature. The first project was a film titled Four Rooms. The concept of the film was to take four stories and make them all happen one night in a hotel. Tarantino co-directed the film with three other directors: Allison Anders, Alexander Rockwell, and Robert Rodriquez. For his credit Tarantino directed the fourth room sequence, which is my favorite.

         The second project that Tarantino worked on before directing his third feature was a film he wrote titled From Dusk Till Dawn. The film was directed by Tarantino's pal Robert Rodriquez, while Quentin only wrote and stared in it. I am not a big fan of Tarantino's acting, in all honesty I hate it, but I will say he does a good job in this movie, and it is definitely his best acting performance. Even though Tarantino did not direct this film, I will always view it as mainly his project because of the film's violence and dialogue.

         After a three-year break from directing a full-length feature, Tarantino released his third directorial film, titled Jackie Brown, in 1997. This film was different from his first two because Tarantino actually based the movie on of an Elmore Leonard novel titled Rum Punch. The main change that Tarantino added to the story is that he changed the leading character into an African American role. After watching this film it is easy, one can tell that it is heavily inspired by the black exploitation films of the seventies. Tarantino has admitted that he was a big fan of these exploitation films as a child.

         Tarantino took nearly a six-year break before he released his fourth and most recent feature, Kill Bill. The film was so long that it had to be cut into two volumes. The film is labeled under a kung fu genre, but to me it is a revenge story that one would see more often in a western film genre. There is one fight scene in volume one that was so violent that the American film authorities made Tarantino release the scene in black and white in our country, while it stayed in color in other countries. In my opinion Kill Bill is Tarantino's worst feature because it has too many fight scenes and not enough of his classical dialogue. I am still a big fan of the movie but I strongly believe it is not as good as his first three efforts.

         One of the most impressive qualities of Tarantino's films is the actors he has worked with. Many movie critics consider Tarantino to literally have given rebirth to the careers of such actors as John Travolta, Pam Grier, and Robert Foster. I agree with this opinion about John Travolta because he disappeared during the 1980's, and because of the success he has had since Pulp Fiction came out. What amazes me is that Travolta only got paid one hundred thousand dollars for acting in Pulp Fiction, which just goes to show that actors want to work for and star in a Tarantino film. He has had several actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and Tim Roth work for him on more than one feature. I think that part of what makes Tarantino's films so good is that he writes his characters with actors in mind.

         All of Tarantino's features are directed in out of order sequences, which make one really have to and want to watch them several times to fully understand them. In my opinion he is a very good director, but an even better screen writer. After watching Pulp Fiction for the first time, I could easily tell that I was always going to have to wait to see a Tarantino film because he has the authority and talent to put his name only on projects of his choice. Even though his career is still very young and he has only directed four features, I believe his name already creates a genre in itself and of its own.

Chad Cooper

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