Sunday, 18 January 2009

Influences part 3: Quentin Tarantino

I am really surprised by how much my artistic interests have developed over the course of my studies at eca. Three years ago I knew very few artists and artworks from outside American/British mainstream culture, and I had little enthusiasm for learning about anything different from what I was already aware of.
These days my artistic interests have changed drastically, so much so that I now find little of interest in American/British culture, and very few of my artistic interest are from American or British contemporary culture. It has got to the point where I now have no problem with criticising the work of Pixar (whom I considered almost God-like in 1st and 2nd Year), and I no longer worry about having to sit through an old, black and white, poor quality, foreign film that I've never heard of. It is perhaps unexpected then that Quentin Tarantino is such an influence on me, but here is why...

Tarantino successfully combined his own interest in elements of cultural cinema (like Film Noir, B-Movies, and French New Wave) with modern mainstream Hollywood, and he ended up producing highly individual films that motivated me to learn about different forms of cinema. He is therefore most responsible for my eclectic range of film influences.
Pulp Fiction in particular is his most important film to me because it sparked my interest in cultural cinema. The film is best known for the non-linear timeline that intertwines so many contrasting characters, but as is noted in the director's commentary, Pulp Fiction owes an awful lot to various films from the past. During the directors commentary Tarantino regularly relates so many interesting elements of his film to the work of French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard.

Godard is responsible for several of those random quotes that I heard during 1st and 2nd Year at eca such as "film is the truth at 25 times a second" and "of course a film should have a beginning, middle, and end, but not neccesarily in that order", yet I never cared about who Godard was or what he did until hearing about him so often through Tarantino.
After spending part of the summer holidays in 2007 watching my Tarantino DVD box set, I began 3rd Year at eca with a strong desire to see some of the French New Wave films by Godard. My first Godard film was Bande a Part (1964) and I fell in love with it almost instantly (coincidentally, Tarantino named his production company, Band Apart, after Godard's film). Thanks to Tarantino's interest in the work of Godard and the extensive DVD collection in the eca library, Godard is now one my own most influential directors.
These two directors are responsible for the many other cultural films that I am now interested in, and I owe several design elements of my graduation film to the works of Tarantino and Godard.

If only I could get a dance sequence into my film...

- Quentin Tarantino's debut film, Reservoir Dogs (1991), "loudly announced Tarantino as a talent to be reckoned with and remains one of the most important films ever made" (Reservoir Dogs DVD sleeve notes, 2004). And he has since directed Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill volume 1 & 2, and Deathproof.
- Jean-Luc Godard's debut film, A Bout de Souffle - AKA Breathless - (1959), "spearheaded the French New Wave of film making, recognised as one of the most stylish and influential movements in cinema" (A Bout de Souffle DVD sleeve notes, 2000). Other notable Godard films include Bande a Part, Weekend, and Alphaville (Aki Kaurismaki, another of my most influential directors, named his own production company, Villealfa, after this Godard film).

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