Tarantino - 'Let's get into character.'


Tarantino Character creation.

(Informal scenes that reveal character)

A piece of writing advice I receieved recently has led me back to the work of Tarantino. Known for his violence and redeption stories, but also his colourful and unforgettable characters.

The advice surrounded the idea of creating great charcaters and knowing them well enough to write fully realised characters.

The advice was ‘Know who your character are when their alone, and know who they are trying to presents themsleves to be around others.’

Now at first glance this advice seems like ‘Character’ and ‘Characteristaion’ but digging into it a little deeper, the question is really getting at the kind of thinking your character has about themselves, there veiwpoint on the world and how to present themselves within it.

Really were talking about two sides of a person. A neutral, infromal state that a characeter expresses when alone, or relaxed in comfortable company and then secodndly A hightened, more dramatic state, when they take on a certain kind of persona.

This video will explore examples of this and try to explain why this is useful for creating great charcters.

The only difference between an Informal state and a Dramatic state, from the characters point of view is there are playing a role, a character. There are subtle and not so subtle examples all throughout cinema but some of the most entertaining and clear example of this is in Tarantinos films.

Lets look at Jules from Pulp Fiction, having some of the best dialogue in the film, but most noteably in this scene. (dramatic)

This hightened Dramatic scene is even more powerful and revealing because of its juxtaposition and contrast with its Informal scenes moments before.

Starting in the car, we see Jules engaged in a back and forth, this will contrast with the very one sided converstaion and leading role later on, we see them argue over a point of view, this sets up for a story point later on. Fun Fact the song heard from the hallway is ‘starberry letter 22, which is used again in Taratinos next film Jackie Brown. Now the length of this conversation and tracking shots are all designed to make the audience wait and relax before the upcoming action. This is my favoruite example of the audience being made to wait as the camera literally refuses to follow them an waits by the door. Note Jules lines as they make the change from Informal into prepartion for the upcoming drama.

Not only are these two scenes in conversation with each other but it works on the same premise as effective action films.

Some action films are numbing and overwhenliming, but the best action films are the ones which the audience cares about the outcome of the characters, because the audience are invested in the character through effective storytelling. There are many examples of directors and writers who have effectively found the balance for action films but since were on the topic of Taratino lets looks at ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’

Clooney and tarantino

Although not crafted by Tarantino, this is an exreme example this technqiue where the structure of the films is shaped to support this techqniue, before pointing the audience into a very heigethened and supernatural situation and the charceters are pressure, we spend the first half of the film getting to know these characters in the normal world.


Lets looks at another example from Resvior Dogs and try to explore WHY this is an effective technique.

Lets start this time with our Informal scene because many hightened counterparts come from this opening.

  1. REVEAL Firstly it gives us a unqiue chance to see our charcaters without the stakes and pressures of heavier scenes, giving us a climpse into the natural state nd revealing some of there true character.
  2. FORESHADOW, this opening scene very subtley leaves clues that foreshadow many story points later on. The closeness of Orange and White, The argument White and Blonde, The difference in point of view with Pink and White.
  3. REHERSAL These kind of scenes can also be used as rehersal before difficult choices,

Vince and orange.

This gives us a chance to see our charcter struggling with something, feel there vulnerability and understand there uncertaininty and tension during the key dramactic moments.

  1. CONTRAST. I think its difficult to meausre the effecvtivenss of contrast for the audicne and how useful that is as a tool to understand and feeling for the characters. The contrast also serves as a story device, useful at different points in the story but intense action is even more effectively contrasted immediately after calming, scnes that allow the audience to relax into th world.

But is this an ealry Tarainto technqiue of something that has been used throughout his body of work.



Pulp Fiction Diner and mexican stand off.

Perhaps this fasincation has come from Taratinos early love for acting, Best friends wedding

Lets finish with a scene from the highly underatted Jackie Brown. Here we have a scene that goes back to the idea of to scenes being in conversation with the other, in this instance, Tanataino has chosen to show them both side by side. This split screen similtaiously reveals and peeks information for the audience creating even more meaning in the action.

Coming back to the idea that PIXAR director once shared that DRAMA= is anticipation mingled with unceratinty.

Deniro Okay,

  • 30/04/2015 18:12:03
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  • Film Analysis
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  • Darren Foley

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