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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Tarantino Talks DJANGO Influence; Terry Gilliam’s Advice; 3 Most Influential Films (9’42” total)

Three excerpts from SiriusXM’s “Town Hall,” moderated by Scott Foundas.

Scott Foundas: “Talk about your Django vis-à-vis that [other] Django.”

Quentin Tarantino: “In the case of Django, this movie became such a sensation; it took spaghetti westerns to a different place—a much more violent place, a much rougher, more brutal and even more surreal type of West. And just as an example of how violent the movie was at the time, it was banned in England up until the ‘90s. You could not show Django in England up until the ‘90s. In fact, one of the only ways to ever see Django in England is in the movie The Harder They Come. Jimmy Cliff goes to a theater and watches Django and you see him in the theater watching Django and you see the villain Django on the screen, and they play a whole mirror aspect of Jimmy Cliff as Django… he’s the outlaw on the run. Andthat was the only time you could ever see Django on the screens of England—[in] the little clip of it that was in The Harder They Come. [The character] Django was so popular that about 40 films exist that are basically non-related, rip-off sequels to [the original] Django. And rarely do they actually try to make it the same character. Only a couple of them have ever tried to do that. It’s just a character name Django. Sometimes the movies don’t even have a character named Django in it. They just put ‘Django’ in the title because they… [thought] that’s what spaghetti western people would want to see. Not to mention any time… [a] …Franco Nero movie—who was the star of [director Sergio Corbucci’s] Django—in particular played in Germany, it was always called ‘Django’ something. Didn’t matter what it was. If he’s doing a modern day cop film in the ‘70s, it was Django the Cop. If he’s doing a movie where he plays a shark hunter [it would be called] Django and the Shark… Django in Vietnam. There were all these complete rip-offs, unrelated sequels to Django and I am proud to say, that my film, Django Unchained, can join the long line of unrelated Django rip-offs.”

Quentin Tarantino: “Before I did my first movie I went to the Sundance Institute. You’re there for a few weeks and new directors or actors or writers that are professionals come in and they kind of mentor you. One of the people they assigned me was Terry Gilliam, who was at the height of his visionary reputation. And he really liked the script for Reservoir Dogs. He thought it was really cool. So he was really invigorated with the idea of helping me on the project. I had never made a movie before. I have all these cool visuals in my mind and I think I can make a great movie but it is all theory until you do it. And I asked him: “…you have a vision and that specific vision is in each of your movies—how do you capture that?’ And [he] literally gave me some of the best advice I’d ever gotten, he said: ‘Quentin, you don’t really have to conjure up your vision. What you have to do is know what your vision is. And then you have to hire really talented people and it’s their job to create your vision. If you hire the right costume designer, you hire the right production designer, you hire the right cinematographer, [get the right] the props, you hire the right people who get what you’re trying to do and…explain it them. If you can articulate your vision and they’re talented, they will give you your vision.’”

Three Influences? Quentin Tarantino: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is probably obvious why it’s been such an influence to me.

Mario Bava became one of the first directors that I got to know by name because I saw Black Sabbath on late night television and would look forward to seeing it pop up again. He’s a great Italian horror filmmaker. And then I started noticing other movies in the TV Guide that had his name and they all had this big, cool operatic quality about them. And I have to say, it was both Sergio Leone and Mario Bava that got me thinking in terms of ‘shots’ as opposed to just, ‘This guy did a movie I like. I’ll see another movie that that guy does ‘cause I like that movie,’ as opposed to just recognizing the name and hoping that another good movie would come out, I actually started recognizing a cinematic style and a signature and a quality in the movies that was just beyond a good movie versus another good movie or, a not-so-good one. Even when I would see a Mario Bava movie I didn’t like I still recognized the style and the same operatic quality. But Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was probably my favorite movie when I was really, really, really young. And, the thing about why I think it was so influential is I remember at that time period my two favorites types of movies in the world were monster movies, and in particular the universal monster movies from the ‘30s, and physical comedies like Abbott and Costello, I loved them. Every kid I knew at that time loved Abbott and Costello… Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello, Laurel & Hardy—I thought all those guys were great. And those were my favorite types of movies. I loved W.C. Fields too. I was crazy for W.C. Fields. So when I watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein it bended my mind about the fact that my two favorite genres—even though I didn’t know what the word ‘genre’ meant—could be put into one movie. I didn’t know that you could do that. I always thought there’s this type of movie and that kind of movie. Like chocolate and peanut butter. But the fact that I was a little boy at 7 or 8—or maybe even younger—making genre distinctions not knowing that because I literally thought, ‘Wow this is the greatest movie ever—my two favorite types of movies in one. When it’s scary it’s really scary and when it’s funny it’s really funny. And I guess I’ve been trying to do that, a lot, the whole rest of my career.”

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“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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