Reservoir Dogs Postmodernism theory when related to films can be described when the audience’s delay of skepticism is shattered, in order to free the audience’s grasp of the director’s work. Small changes are made to create a significant meaning in the audience’s mind. The director has created a piece of art that removes the audience from the conventional and emotional bond to the subject, creating a new perspective.
Postmodern films apply the usage of four concepts: simulation, reusing styles, typically drawing irony to the new style; pre-fabrication, drawing a closer attention to already existing scenes and using them in the films narrative or dialogue; intertextuality, using text that has already been used and finally bricolage, creating a film based on a collage of various other film styles and genres. Quentin Tarantino, the famous film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor followed his passion from an early age. He did not watch movies as a child and adolescent, but he made the films a large part of his life.
Tarantino, though he may deny his films to fall in the category of postmodernism, portrays various genres and styles from other movies, typically of his childhood very well. Tarantino draws upon the genres of martial arts, kung fu, grind-house, and spaghetti western films. Typically starting his films, Tarantino opens with “Our Feature Presentation” drawing immediate attention to the audience, transporting them in time to their days of childhood and adolescents. A director is an artist, Tarantino, though he recreated previous works of other artists, is one too.
White, Mr. Brown, Mr. Blue, Mr. Blonde, Nice Guy Eddie, or even head gang leader, Joe Cabot? Strangers to one another, Joe (Lawrence Tierney) assigns each member a color code alias. The opening scene is in a diner with all gang members sitting around a table, eating breakfast, while Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino) explains his interpretation of Madonna’s song ‘Like a Virgin’. The men continue to discuss the importance and the meanings of popular songs, especially bringing up songs of the 1970s. Though this dialogue is rather unimportant, it shows Tarantino’s intricate eye to detail.
It is ironic to see Tarantino the one explaining Madonna’s song, for it is his intention to set the stage for the audience’s interpretation of the film. Mr. Brown explains Madonna’s sexual encounters, as she continues to remember the first time she lost her virginity and the pain she had to encounter. Tarantino intends for Reservoir Dogs to have many interpretations, and one may consider that the gang members have to be redeemed through pain and suffering. The styles that we can see throughout the film use exaggerated confrontations and violence.
After the diner scene, the film continues with a “Men in Black” take of the gangsters walking towards the camera. Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) and Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) are now on pursuit away from the heist, as things did not go as planned as the cops showed up unexpectedly. Running on foot, they stop a car and the owner and driver shoots Mr. Orange in the abdomen. For the remainder of the film, Mr. Orange laid on the floor of the warehouse bleeding profusely in excruciating pain. The pain that Mr. Orange faced throughout the film is the interpretation that Tarantino had intended to compare to the suffering of Madonna.
Mr. Orange (Roth) was the undercover mole that was ordered to bust the head of operation, Joe Cabot (Tierney). Aside for Tarantino’s significance of popular songs, he also used images inter-dispersed throughout the film; Silver Surfer comic and the Get Christie Love! TV show. These are a few examples of how Reservoir Dogs falls into the category of being a postmodern film through the usage of image and text, posing as in intricate part to media and society. Reservoir Dogs, a postmodern film, includes the usage of criminals falling; indicating a crime and gangster movie.
It also uses the formula of a western movie. Though, usually in a traditional western there is one individual who upholds law and order, Tarantino put a spin on western genres when including the style throughout his films. Reservoir Dogs use of western is slightly different, instead of one individual; there is a group of men who try to restore order that has spun out of control to arrange a logical explanation and conclusion of who the possible informant might be. Tarantino is specific about his films, he does not intend for them to represent real life, but rather mimic other movies.
In Reservoir Dogs initial scene, the men are sitting in the diner, a very similar scene to Woody Allen’s film Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) when they are sitting in a restaurant. Woody’s film is considered to be a romantic comedy drama, where Tarantino, though not considering Woody when creating the scene, did not create a romantic comedy drama film, but rather a film that fell into the category of crime, mystery and thriller. Quentin Tarantino pulls from previous artists, not only text and images, but also styles, such as cinematography. In Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino uses extreme conflict and intense violent scenes.
Aside from the acting, Tarantino creates a character, Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), who is constantly reminding the team that he is acting professional, while everyone else is fighting and not thinking of the future affects of their actions. Mr. Pink aside from being a “better” criminal, draws upon the belief that if you are not wearing a uniform you therefore fall into the “real person” category. Tarantino, throughout all his films, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction (1996) and Kill Bill (2003; 2004) the assassins, criminals, and law enforcements are all distinguished by their uniforms.
Those who are “real people” wear real, daily, regular clothing, nothing that is out of the ordinary. The gang members who work for Joe Cabot are all dressed in the classic black suits with white button down dress shirts and thin black ties. The cops are wearing the typical blue uniform. It is interesting to notice that Joe and his son, though apart of the gang operation do not wear the “uniform”. The majority of Reservoir Dogs takes place in the dingy warehouse, where no gangster becomes a “real person”; they do not undress from their uniforms, therefore staying as a gangster.
Though they do not succeed in becoming real people, they are redeemed of being a gangster through death, unlike Mr. Pink who runs out after they go on a “trigger happy frenzy” shooting one another. The idea of the members, including the cop that was taken hostage is a similar idea to William Shakespeare, who was considered an outstanding poet and playwright during the 16th century. Typically, at the end of the plays, Shakespeare would conclude that the characters all be killed. Tarantino, a rather outstanding director and writer, pulls from these great artists to create an even greater piece of work.
Quentin Tarantino, considered a postmodern filmmaker, uses references to earlier films. He blends genres from A-Z. In Reservoir Dogs, he uses many references from the French new wave directors, who were highly influential to his Production Company as well as his work. Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard were influential; he named his production company “A Band Apart”. In Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino named the jewelry store “Karina’s” after Anna Karina, star from Bande apart (Band of Outsiders, 1964).
Postmodernism is a concept that pulls from many genres, and it is Reservoir Dogs that Quentin Tarantino first begins his voyage as an up and coming director to use this style of creativity and expression. Today, we entertain ourselves with concerts, movie theater, broadways, radio, and television. It is these social medias that people like Quentin Tarantino create for our enjoyment. Pulling on our childhood memories, familiarity, comfort, and most importantly clues to other important images of our past, bring a deeper appreciation to the work and creativity that has been produced.