Quentin Tarantino is one of the best-known living American filmmakers in the world, and the story of his career has been the subject of a number of books and articles. But what do his films mean? In this new study, Edward Gallafent does not look at Tarantino’s story but at the films themselves. He asks to what extent Tarantino can be seen as a specifically American filmmaker, with the kinds of preoccupations and interests that have formed part of Hollywood’s traditions, and also how he explores the expressive possibilities of current cinema.
The book concentrates on the main feature films of Tarantino’s career so far: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and the two volumes of Kill Bill. Apart from Kill Bill the films are not treated individually, but in terms of some of the subjects that connect them together, such as success and tradition, their notorious deployment of violence, and Tarantino’s approach to story-telling: his interest in presenting events out of chronological order. The book also covers adaptations of Tarantino’s work, looking at the screenplays of True Romance and Natural Born Killers as well as the films made from them, and compares Tarantino’s approach to adapting Elmore Leonard with that of another important American filmmaker, Paul Schrader.
The aim of the book is to explore these topics and to take the reader back to what the American critic Robert Warshow called the ‘actual, immediate experience of seeing and responding to the movies’. It is designed to appeal both to those who were excited by the films on first seeing them in the cinema and to those taking the opportunity of reconsidering them on the screen or on DVD.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Select filmography Background 1. Tradition and modernity in Reservoir Dogs 2. Success and failure in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown 3. Exploring the medium: film violence in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction 4. Tarantino as screenwriter: True Romance and Natural Born Killers 5. Landscapes 6. Adaptation: Tarantino, Paul Schrader and Elmore Leonard 7. Kill Bill: excursion into style Bibliography Further Reading Index
Edward Gallafent teaches in the Department of Film and Television Studies at Warwick University in England. He is the author of books on Clint Eastwood and on Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.