As American screenwriter, producer, actor and film-director Quentin Tarantino finds himself in Paris for the French premiere of his latest film Django Unchained (2012), ÉCU thought it would be fitting to spotlight him this week as we eagerly await the movie’s arrival to our screens. Tarantino is an indie movie giant, and one who has frequently lambasted Hollywood in the past. He is well-known for speaking his mind (or refusing to play along and give people what they want) and letting his strong personality shine through in interviews. He grew up being passionate about films and furthered his knowledge of cinema by working at a video rental store, rather than attending film school. After having dropped out of high-school to pursue acting as a teenager, he began his career as an independent filmmaker.
His style is an eclectic melange of spaghetti westerns, French New Wave cinema, kung fu movies and grindhouse films, and this jumbling of genres tends to be infused with violence, satire and witty dialogue – all presented in a scattered fashion which defies any linear plot. His biggest films to date include Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (volumes I and II, 2003 and 2004), Death Proof (2007) and Inglorious Basterds (2009). Whether you love or hate the man whose movies have stirred endless discussions on cinematic portrayals of gratuitous violence (or cathartic violence, depending on your viewpoint on the matter), his impact on the film world is undeniable. He has also used his sway in the film industry to help promote smaller and foreign films.
Django Unchained was made independently by the studio A Band Apart (created by Tarantino and Lawrence Bender, whose name pays homage to Jean-Luc Godard’s classic Bande à part), which is also responsible for Tarantino’s other movies. The film stars an impressive cast which features Jamie Foxx (who plays Django), Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. It deals with slavery in America and was inspired by Italian spaghetti westerns – despite being set in the Deep South. It has already received critical acclaim since its release in the US and is hailed by Tarantino for its achievement in blowing open a renewed debate on slavery and racism.
Tarantino has been a key figure in the world of independent film since the success of his first cult hit Reservoir Dogs. The plot is based on what takes place before and after a failed attempt at a jewellery heist. The film is renowned for its brutal on-screen violence, and incorporates themes which would become touchstones of Tarantinos work, such as obvious references to popular culture, copious amounts of swear-words, crime and the violence which surrounds it. It precludes what is perhaps Tarantino’s most famous movie, Pulp Fiction, which won (amongst others awards) the Palme d’Or at Cannes and received an Oscar and BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay. This movie has probably immortalised Tarantino as it has been such a massive commercial and critical success and is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.
It is difficult to encapsulate what Tarantino’s work has meant and how it continues to impact the world of film. His steadfastness in pursuing things his own way and refusal to tow the line of major studios is both admirable and impressive. His originality and talent for making movies is enough to inspire any budding filmmaker to take some risks and let their imagination roam free and in as many different, diverse directions as possible. Shake off the chains of convention imposed by big studios and be brave enough to do your own thing. ÉCU looks forward to Django Unchained and seeing what goods indie film genius Tarantino has come up with!