Fig. 1. Reservoir Dogs poster.
Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) is a great debut from Tarantino, it is filled with excessive blood and swearing, truly a film pumped with male testosterone. Tarantino has an interesting way of telling his story to the audience which creates emotionally connections to characters that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. Packed with lots of great scenes, which include a horrific torture scene that is made to feel somewhat comical, a flashback that becomes almost dreamlike and an emotional ending, it is definitely a film that will keep you interested.
Fig. 2. The group still.
Tarantino tells this film in a non-linear fashion, the story is based around a group of robbers that perform a heist that goes very wrong, leaving a few of them dead and one seriously injured. Tarantino starts us off with a pre heist breakfast; during this there is a scene in which the group of men have a conversation, straight after we are transported to a scene in a car with Mr White and Mr Orange, Mr Orange has been shot and is seriously wounded. At this point as a viewer, you are left to assume what has happened, it is possible that this cut up effect makes you more interested as you want to find out what has happened. As Billson points out in her review ‘the film fills in vital information via an assortment of flashbacks. This is an ambitious structure, but Tarantino pulls it off with panache.’ (Billson, 2014). Billson suggests that Tarantino’s method of using flashbacks to give important story information is a difficult achievement to accomplish, however Tarantino pulls it off with a bang. Using the flashbacks to give information to the viewer allows Tarantino to give it in an order that makes your opinion of certain characters different, as opposed to telling the story in chronological order. This has a huge impact on the connection you have with Mr Orange, who is later revealed to be an undercover cop.
Fig. 3. Torture still.
A scene which is very intriguing is the one in which Mr Blonde, the psychopath of the group, tortures a police officer in the warehouse. This scene is interesting because Tarantino makes something that should be very disturbing and uncomfortable, quite artistic and almost light humoured. As Thompson states in his review ‘While a radio plays a bad song from an FM ''Sounds of the '70s" retrospective (a running joke here), Mr. Blonde begins dancing, singing and brandishing his implements of torture - a razor, a can of gasoline, a lighter. He then begins to mutilate his victim.’ (Thompson, 2013). Thompson points out the events that create the light hearted mood for what should have been a much more disturbing scene, in this case clever use of sound design and the delightful acting from Michael Madsen created an artful scene that isn’t easily forgotten.
Tarantino does an excellent job at creating a fully resolved film that feels complete without ever showing the heist. The film is packed out with clever dialogue and a handful of flashbacks that fill in the gaps for the audience, so by the end of the film you feel as if you had witnessed the heist. As Russell points out in her review ‘With a surprise or two in store, Reservoir Dogs revolves around a heist that we never see taking place. It`s an intentional oversight that the filmgoer might not notice until long after this emotionally draining movie is over.’ (Russell, 2013). Russell suggests that due to the suspense and emotional impact the film has on the audience, they may end up overlooking the heist not being shown. This shows Tarantino’s ability to successfully create an interesting and impactful film on a low budget.
To conclude, Reservoir Dogs is a great film filled with lots of witty dialogue, blood, violence and a heap of swearing. It is a director pumping male testosterone into one room and allowing it to explode. It has great scenes and a broken up story that leaves you emotionally exhausted and wondering if you should trust your initial judgements and connections with characters. It is a film that isn’t for the squeamish but if you can stomach a scene of torture and some blood then it is a highly recommended piece of art.
Tarantino, Q. (1992). Figure 1. Reservoir Dogs poster. https://cinefilles.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/reservoir-dogs-poster.jpg (Accessed on 22/03/2015)
Tarantino, Q. (1992). Figure 2. The group still. http://blog.planet5d.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/08/walking-in-focal-plane-from-Reservoir-Dogs.png (Accessed on 22/03/2015)
Tarantino, Q. (1992). Figure 3. Torture still. http://www.liveforfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/reservoir-dogs-06.png (Accessed on 22/03/2015)
Billson, A. (2014). telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/11311308/Reservoir-Dogs-review-raw-and-exciting.html (Accessed on 22/03/2015)
Russell, C. (2013). articles.sun-sentinel.com. http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1992-11-06/features/9202270898_1_jewelry-heist-joe-cabot-six-robbers (Accessed on 22/03/2015)
Thompson, G. (2013). articles.philly.com. http://articles.philly.com/1992-10-30/news/25998760_1_informant-andrzej-sekula-fake-names (Accessed on 22/03/2015)