Quentin Tarantino is a critically acclaimed director. He has won numerous awards and everyone wants to work with him. His films tend to hit you where you least expect it. This is a testament to his unique skill of writing dialogue that has a way of making you question your own decisions in life. His characters are ones that you could only dream about being. He always seems to get the best out of the actors he works with. So we have to wonder what makes Tarantino so good at what he does? Where does he get his ideas, is he driven by passion? What inspires his bold films and boisterous dialogue? On the heels of the release of his latest film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, we have to wonder where Tarantino will take us this time and what inspired him to take us there.
Tarantino has cast some questionable people in his films. Starting at his earlier films like Reservoir Dogs and True Romance. The young writer/director cast Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as his leads in True Romance. This was odd seeing as he had talents like James Gandolfini, Brad Pitt, and Gary Oldman in the same film. However, this is the beauty of Tarantino he doesn’t cast people based on popularity. He casts them based on their ability to play the role they have been given. Seeing talent in people is a talent in itself. Tarantino has essentially mastered this.
Reviews of Tarantino’s films usually include words like controversial, exciting, and triggering. The truth is if you aren’t making films that are making people feel something then what are your films doing? Tarantino takes a good couple of years between releasing each of his films. Taking this time allows him to write and rewrite his script to perfection. A film like Django Unchained would usually be left up to a director of color. Someone who can have some sort of connection to the struggle that was faced. Tarantino however, wanted to tell a story of a slave who wasn’t willing to back down. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
He isn’t afraid to use derogatory and racist dialogue. It’s as if he is saying exactly what is on his mind. This has upset a lot of people who have written op-eds, protested and refused to see his films because of how he writes. Tarantino once said about the racial slur commonly used towards people of color. “It’s only the dirtiness of it, the nastiness of it, that makes it funny. So I don’t want you to censor the way my characters talk.” What he is saying is, if you write a character than be true to that character. If this character is meant to shock and awe people than make them do just that. Growing up with a strong black community in his life Tarantino always felt a connection to black people and want to tell their stories and what he learned from them.
When Tarantino is not promoting a movie he is nowhere to be found. Tarantino lives a quiet and simple life. He even got married in 2018 and basically, no one knew except a few friends and those who were invited to the ceremony. Tarantino supposedly lives in LA but the paparazzi never seem to get to unnecessary shots of him taking out his garbage or grabbing an expensive LA coffee. The man is basically a magician. He maintains a level of fame that is hard to keep when you aren’t active on any social sites and you don’t indulge the media with your presence every day. We can most certainly chalk this up to him being that talented.
We touched on Tarantino’s ability to upset many people with his words. We did not touch on the fact that besides controversial, his dialogue is relatable. He writes the way people speak. His dialogue is open and full of expletives and he forces us to dive deep into the conversation. A lot of the time screenwriting books and blogs and how-tos teach us to write clearly and concisely. The dialogue is always meant to keep the film moving. Tarantino incorporates lines that don’t necessarily add to the plot but they make for a good laugh or an interesting did ya know. His dialogue is truly like overhearing a juicy, dramatic conversation. Not many people write that way, it sets him apart.
No matter what, Tarantino finds a way to inject humor into his films. Even in serious films like Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchanined, Tarantino has found a way to make us laugh. He is defying the rules of film. Not everyone writes a dramatic film or TV show and manages to add a few funny lines. Tarantino has the right idea here. Life is filled with mixed emotions and even in serious or sad moments, there can be humor. This is what he is doing as a writer, he is bringing real-life scenes to life. Scenes that people can relate to.
You have to know where we are going with this. On the set of many of Tarantino’s films, it is a known fact that he gives his actors a tad bit of creative license. We will use the infamous Django Unchained scene where he allows Leonardo DiCaprio to keep shooting with a bloody hand. Tarantino saw how great the scene was going so instead of yelling cut he let the actors keep going and what came from that was one of the best scenes in the film. He also allows his cast to improvise lines and in some cases give input on what they believe their character would do or say. A Collaborative effort is one of the keys to his success.
Okay, before you get all crazy, hear me out. Tarantino once said that the key to his films being so great is he takes great moments from other films. In Pulp Fiction that infamous dance scene with Uma Thurman and John Travolta was taken from a Jean Luc-Goddard film called Bande à part. Tarantino even said himself, “I steal from every movie ever made.”He isn’t truly stealing, to be honest. He is taking moments that impacted him in some way and recreating versions that better suit him. This is actually something that many directors do regularly but truly only Tarantino has perfected it to the point where you can’t even tell he did it.
Tarantino grew up loving films. Did he think he would ever make it this big? Probably not. No one truly does. He certainly felt that there was room in Hollywood for a writer and director who truly put their all into a movie. As a young person, he lived and breathed cinema and really took in what films had to offer him and others. He is now reaping the benefits of someone who has immersed themselves in a world for such a long period of time. People truly underestimate what knowing the history of something you love can do for you.
Last but not least. In order to succeed there has to be some kind of acknowledgment and appreciation. Tarantino, throughout his career, has really been in awe of his success and this has kept him humble. There is something to be said about someone who knows that their success can be taken away at any time. This is one of the most crucial acts in being successful. Staying humble is hard when basically every film you have made has been successful in some way. Tarantino is someone who knows that success is based on many things, not just talent.