A Tarantino film can be distinguished in many ways. Violence, wit, humor, incredible dialogue, non-linear plots, profanity, references to pop culture, and homage to genres are all parts of the pastiche that make up a Tarantino movie. Perhaps the factor that stands out the most is Tarantino’s writing which is smart, punning, original, and at times nothing short of genius. While Quentin Tarantino is a strong visual stylist, his directing still falls short of his writing in my opinion, and I would make the argument that he has easily earned himself a spot among the few greatest screenwriters of all time. Just look at his work on Pulp Fiction, dialogue-wise his finest film. QT’s dialogue seems to come from a reservoir within the writer, pouring onto the page and leaking over to the screen with ease.
Pulp Fiction was also categorized by monologues that people have wanted to recite ever since seeing the movie. Captain Koon’s (Christopher Walken) story about Butch’s father’s pocket watch and the incredible journey it went through is so well scripted we laugh and shudder at the same time. Even more famous is Jules’ recital of a fictitious bible passage, climaxing in the lines: “and I shall strike down upon thee with glorious vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!” This monologue, written by Tarantino with Samuel L. Jackson’s input, is so memorable, like many lines in the film, and is so powerful in its own right.
Another aspect that makes Tarantino’s films unique is their placement in an almost alternate reality. Tarantino’s movies all take place on Earth, but in a Tarantino vision of the world. His characters all speak in a crossbreed of magnificent prose and speedy vulgarity. He never uses product placement in his films, instead supplementing his own fictitious products such as Red Apple Cigarettes or Kaboom Cereal. This attention to minor detail helps explain why Tarantino is at the top of his career. This also furthers the concept that his films take place in a slightly-tweaked universe. This differentiates his films from the realism of other action and drama movies. For this reason we are more forgiving of the violence in his films, as it feels almost like comic violence and shouldn’t be taken literally, but instead as both a talented piece of filmmaking and as an allegorical take on the interaction of characters. The same rings true for his dialogue. In some ways he is the most honest writer of human dialogue, but there are many scenes Tarantino has written that seem to transcend simple human speech and become poetic in their own right. So many of his characters have a way with words that allow them to enunciate and accentuate their vocabularies to their own expressive advantage. These are qualities that make his films feel supernatural in a way, placing them just outside the range of realism and turning them into trademarked Tarantino films.
Aside from the way they look and talk, his characters are also written with such description that their actions, their movement sets them apart. Some of his characters are twists on stereotypical genre types, while others are brand new creations. Tarantino is a brilliant writer who can create distinct characters with seeming ease, although I’m sure it takes hours and hours of dedication and work to formulate a proper script (Inglourious Basterds is said to have taken 10 years to write). Tarantino also inspires exceptional performances from his actors and actresses, bringing his characters that much further to life. Take Christoph Waltz, who plays Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. His Oscar-winning performance contains so many small components and facets that he and Tarantino worked on together. The way he carries himself, Landa’s laugh, his charm, it all works effectively into creating the monster that he is.
Tarantino also references and pays tribute to the history of cinema in his movies. He himself is a huge movie buff, so he likes to both show his knowledge and honor those who came before him in his writing. QT includes
the character of a film critic in Inglourious Basterds, and a cinema-owner, in order to catalyze conversations about the history of German and French cinema. He also pays homage to genres, such as spaghetti-westerns (in his upcoming film Django Unchained) or Asian martial arts (Kill Bill). For example, the scenes with Pai-Mei in Kill Bill: Vol. II are reminiscent of Chinese cinema, only with more satire and violence.
In conclusion, many acknowledge that Quentin Tarantino is one of the finest filmmakers operating right now, he may even fall into the Top 10 list of greatest directors ever- although that’s a near-impossible list to make. He directs with passion for his art, and he stylizes his films almost to no end. Yet his true genius lies in his writing capabilities. His characters, plots, dialogue, and monologues are all so memorable because of their ingenuity and individuality. No one makes films quite like Tarantino does. What makes his movies so special are all of the facets I discussed above, the violence, the dialogue, the pop culture references, the profanity, and of course the wit and humor to them. Quentin Tarantino devotes himself to his films, and through his unique personal touch, he makes movies that will forever be remembered.