With this piece about Quentin Tarantino, born on March 27, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, you will discover my position on this American director and screenwriter. Okay, I’ll spit the toad right away: his films, famous for their stylized violence, sharp dialogue and fascination with cinema and pop culture… well I don’t like them. Not all of them though.
Pulp Fiction: I can’t stand it. Perhaps I will be crucified for this statement. In my opinion, only Kill Bill is saved with flying colors. The last film, Once upon a time in Hollywood, I found it ugly but really ugly ugly ugly, as Aldo of the famous trio with Giovanni and Giacomo would say.
Anyway, can I wish Quentin Tarantino happy birthday anyway? I will not be influenced by my personal opinions in writing and therefore I will impartially tell you about his life and why his films have been so successful.
The first steps Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino, born March 27, 1963, is the only child of Connie McHugh, who is both Cherokee and Irish, and actor Tony Tarantino, who left the family before Quentin was born. If you are wondering if Tarantino is an Italian surname and therefore if our today’s protagonist has origins in the Belpaese, the answer is yes. His father was in fact an American musician and actor of Italian origins, precisely from Campania.
Arriving in California at the age of 4, Quentin Tarantino developed his love of cinema there from an early age. One of the earliest memories of him is of his grandmother who took him to see a John Wayne movie.
Tarantino hates school. He’d rather watch movies or read comics (he loved Marvel) than study. The only topic that interests him is History.
After dropping out of high school, Tarantino worked as an usher in an adult cinema (The Pussycat). At the same time, he took acting lessons. Eventually he gets a job at Video Archives, a video club, in Hermosa Beach, California. He works there with Roger Avary, who shares his passion for cinema. At the same time, the two friends work together on some ideas for the script.
During his time at Video Archives, Tarantino worked on several screenplays, including True Romance and Natural Born Killers. He makes a quick appearance on the popular sitcom The Golden Girls, playing and Elvis Presley impersonator. In 1990 he left Video Archives to work for Cinetel, a production company. Thanks to one of the producers present, he can deliver the script for True Romance to director Tony Scott, who buys the rights.
Working with producer Lawrence Bender, Tarantino secured funding for his first film, Reservoir Dogs (1992), for which he also wrote the screenplay. Actor Harvey Keitel is impressed when he stumbles upon the script.
That year, the Sundance Film Festival audience was seduced by the film, which had drawn inspiration from classic films such as Stanley Kubrick’s The Last Raid, City on Fire or Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. At the time, this indie film helped make Tarantino one of Hollywood’s most talked about characters. Although not very successful in the United States, Reservoir Dogs becomes very popular on video and exported with great response from overseas audiences.
Oscar for Pulp Fiction
Natural Born Killers, From Dusk till Dawn, Jackie Brown.
Known for his fiery temper, Tarantino has a public disagreement with director Oliver Stone. Stone had in fact directed Natural Born Killers (1994), rewriting parts of Tarantino’s screenplay. Enraged by the rewrites, Tarantino struggles to remove his name from the film.
The following year Tarantino wrote and directed one of the four stories featured in Four Rooms. The other three stories are shot by other emerging independent directors, Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell and Robert Rodriguez. After the release of Four Rooms, Tarantino and Rodriguez collaborated in 1996 in From Dusk Till Dawn. Tarantino writes the screenplay for the film and stars alongside George Clooney, playing two criminals who end up fighting vampires. Rodriguez is the director of the film.
Tarantino followed shortly thereafter the ifilm Jackie Brown (1997), a detective thriller starring Pam Grier as a flight attendant who is caught smuggling money for an arms dealer (played by Samuel L. Jackson). A tribute to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s, the film is adapted from a novel by Elmore Leonard. Pam Grier herself has appeared in many classics of blaxploitation, including Foxy Brown (1974). The film was well received and many have called it Tarantino’s most mature work. The cast of the film also includes Michael Keaton, Bridget Fonda, Robert De Niro, Robert Forster, Aimee Graham and Chris Tucker.
“Wait until dark” in Broadway and the unfinished works of Quentin Tarantino
After Jackie Brown, Tarantino takes a break from cinema. He stars on Broadway in 1998 in a revival of Wait Until Dark with Marisa Tomei. It’s a bold move for him, as he had never worked in the theater before. Tarantino plays a thug who terrifies a blind woman: the critics are not very impressed and he suffers a lot for this reason. He felt like people on the street recognized him as “the bad guy”.
I tried not to take him personally, but he was personal. It wasn’t about the theater, it was about me, and at some point I started getting tough from constant criticism.
At the same time, Tarantino works on a scenario set during the Second World War. He writes so much on the subject that in the end he wonders if he is writing for film or literature. This results in three unfinished scripts.
Kill Bill: A birthday present from Quentin Tarantino
Instead of tackling his epic about the war, Tarantino gets involved in the world of martial arts films. The idea of Kill Bill had germinated in Tarantino and Thurman’s mind in an unusual way. In fact, the two found themselves discussing it in a bar during the filming of Pulp Fiction. In 2000, Uma Thurman meets Tarantino again at an Oscars party and asks him if she has made any progress with the idea. Tarantino then promises her that he would write the script for her birthday as a gift from her. The script took a year to complete.
Originally, Quentin Tarantino wanted Warren Beatty to play the character of “Bill”, but after the latter’s retirement, the choice of him turned to David Carradine, from the television series Kung Fu. The central theme of the film is revenge. In fact, the story tells of the quest for revenge of a professional killer (The Bride) assaulted on her wedding day by her former boss, Bill, which leaves her in a coma. Overcoming budgets and deadlines, Tarantino persisted in the project, shooting so much that he ultimately had to create two films. Kill Bill: Volume 1 comes out in late 2003, Volume 2 will follow a few months later.
The innovation of this film is a reversal of roles. In all revenge films the protagonist is male and the real opening of the story is the killing of a wife, a son or both. Here things are reversed. It is a true feminist film in many respects in which the protagonist is a Wonder Woman… a killer but still a wonder woman!
Grindhouse an Inglorious Basterds
After Kill Bill, Tarantino’s interest turns to the small screen. He writes and directs an episode of the CSI series in 2005, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. It reaches one of the largest ratings of the series, with over 30 million viewers.
And then he works with Robert Rodriguez again. This collaboration will give birth to Grindhouse (2017), a film in two episodes: Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof. The cast is impressive. In fact, we find Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Eli Roth, Bruce Willis, Danny Trejo, Nicolas Cage. The project is a tribute to exploitative films and genre films.
After these projects, Quentin Tarantino returns to work on the WWII script. In 2009 he then made Inglourious Basterds.
The story takes place in France during the occupation and tells the revenge of a young Jewish woman, Shosanna Dreyfus (played by Mélanie Laurent), whose family was executed by the Nazis led by Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). At the same time, a commando of Allied Jewish soldiers led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is sent to Europe to eliminate as many Nazis as possible. The film is a critical and commercial success. It is nominated for eight Oscars, including two for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
Inglourious Basterds is the link with Quentin Tarantino’s next Oscar. On the one hand, it’s another story of female revenge echoed by Kill Bill. On the other hand, the group of Jewish victims of Nazism who want to wash themselves with Nazi blood is the key idea of Django, where the tragedy in the background of the film is American slavery.
A second Oscar for Django Unchained.
In 2012, Quentin Tarantino again successfully treads the path of the action western, Django Unchained. This is Tarantino’s biggest hit, making more than $ 425 million at the box office.
In the film, Jamie Foxx plays Django, a freed slave who teams up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to find his wife, played by Kerry Washington. Django then has to confront the owner of his wife’s plantation, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film. The cast includes Samuel L. Jackson and Jonah Hill. At the 85th Academy Awards in 2013, Tarantino won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this film. The film received several other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Sound Editing.
The Hateful Eight and Once upon a time… in Hollywood.
In 2015, The Hateful Eight is released in theaters with actors accustomed to collaborating with Tarantino: Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. The plot is as follows: after the civil war, eight travelers find themselves stranded in a refuge in the middle of the mountains. As the storm hits the massif, the inn becomes the scene of intrigue and betrayal. The film garnered several Golden Globe and Oscar nominations in 2016.
Four years later, Tarantino signs his ninth film, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. The director visits Los Angeles in 1969 and pays homage to the last moments of Hollywood’s golden age. TV star Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and longtime stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), his longtime replacement, continue their careers in an industry they no longer recognize. In the background, the hippie revolution and the terrible murder of Sharon Tate.
This highly anticipated feature film is applauded for seven minutes after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019, before its theatrical release the following July.
In spite of everything… happy birthday Quentin Tarantino!
Honestly I don’t understand 7 minutes of applause, I slept for a lot more during this movie, which I found boring and aimless.
Having said that, it is impossible not to recognize that, in less than 10 films, Quentin Tarantino was able to impose his highly original style on the small world of the seventh art. Waiting to know what the next movie will be, we can say, however, that with each of them Tarantino has spread his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema (and his net worth too!) and, thanks to his sense of dialogue and the graphic violence of his works, he has become an icon of pop culture, who turns 59 today!