Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films
written by Souranath Banerjee
One of the most popular American director of our times, Quentin Tarantino is a name that needs no introduction.
His films are a confluence of wacky dialogues, stylish yet graphic violence (often in slow motion), non-linear storytelling and unforgettable music!
Hardly any director in the world has Tarantino’s gift of choosing the perfect soundtrack that would sync and enhance the visuals of a particular scene to another level of awesomeness.
‘I’m a big collector of vinyl – I have a record room in my house – and I’ve always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I’m writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.’
For instance, in his first film Reservoir Dogs (1992) there is this famous torture sequence popularly known as ‘the ear scene’ where Michael Madsen playing a psychopath groves to the happy tune of ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ by Stealers Wheel while torturing the tied up police officer Kirk Baltz.
Well, let’s just say … Tarantino has an ear for good music.
And then, in Pulp Fiction (1994), before John Travolta takes a ride high on drugs, the whole heroine-trip sequence shot beautifully in extreme close-ups is perfectly synced with the soundtrack ‘Bullwinkle Part II’ by The Centurians.
‘To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.’
The perfect example, in his film Jackie Brown (1997) the title sequence where the camera follows Pam Grier traveling through the airport while Bobby Womack’s jazzy tune ‘Across 110th Street’ plays in the background – the effect is simply awesome.
Tarantino often uses music to play with his audience’s psychology.
In Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) the famous whistling tune ‘Twisted Nerve’ originally composed by legendary Bernard Herrmann, prepares the audience with the anticipation of danger as a deadly killer, codename California Mountain Snake (played by Daryl Hannah) is the one who whistles it before a hit.
And finally, a girl (Mélanie Laurent) prepares for revenge; a deadly plan to blast a theater full of Nazis and the epic soundtrack ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)‘ by David Bowie is brilliantly played in the background in Inglourious Basterds (2009).
Eagerly waiting for Tarantino’s upcoming film The Hateful Eight and of course some memorable soundtracks to cherish with it.