Quentin Tarantino often faces criticism for violence and racist language in his films. As he heatedly reminded a reporter during a press tour for Django Unchained, he feels he’s explained himself plenty of times over the last twenty years when asked questions like, ‘Why are you so sure there’s no link between enjoying movie violence and enjoying real violence’.
After winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Django – he answered questions from reporters including how he feels about the criticism now that he won.
All that criticism that came out – it ended up being kind of a good thing…because one of the things that I wanted to do…I wanted to actually start a conversation about slavery – about America’s role in it and to actually take an audience member from the 20th century and stick them in the antebellum south and have a sense of what america was like back then. So even the people that have criticized the movie and a lot of people don’t like it and I can understand that…and a lot of people do like it and they’ve been kind of going back and forth and that back and forth is what I really wanted for the end of the day for this movie and I hope that actually continues for the next few years.
I work in crime films, martial art movies – I guess there’s gonna be a fight or two. In movies, violence can be cool. I specialize in making you laugh at things that aren’t normally funny. John Travolta turns to the guy in the backseat of the car and accidentally blows his head off. And that is a funny sight gag…you mix darkness with light – it’s a dark script. But you pick Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Uma Thurman that have a light essence, and if you mix that with darkness, you have humor.
Whichever side of the critical conversation you are on, there’s no denying that Mr. Tarantino enjoys making entertaining films that do have plenty of violent situations and high body count. Take a look at the artwork that Philip Rhie created with the Vanity Fair writers Alexandra Beggs and Tarik Fayad.
In eight films, 560 people die on screen. *A few numbers are approximated due to the impossibility of counting precisely how many ninjas are decapitated in Kill Bill Vol. 1, how many Nazis are in the theater when it gets set afire in Inglourious Basterds, and how many people fall in the never-ending shoot-out scene at the end of Django Unchained.
Regardless of the amount of critics he draws, he knows he’s made a huge impact on fans, not just domestically but also internationally and doesn’t apologize for his passionate storytelling.
My work is kind of unmistakably me, and I like that about it. But you know, you are either going to really dig it or you’re gonna be against it.
If you ‘dig it’, purchase the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection, which celebrates Tarantino’s 20 years of filmmaking.
Read more Tarantino in Vanity Fair’s Making of Pulp Fiction Oral History.