MCN Blogs
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.”

Leave a Reply

Movie City Indie

Quote Unquotesee all »

You worked as second AD on Jerry Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried,  about a clown entertaining Jewish children in a WW II concentration camp. 
Yes, and I never saw the film. I was just the second assistant and it was an incredible fairytale for me, to work with Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis, along with Louis de Funes—who, by the way, had a very similar career to Jerry Lewis. He was a huge comic in France, but never, ever until now, 20 years after his death, recognized as a great actor. But they both made me laugh as a child. Jerry Lewis did everything: he did stand-up. He could act. He could sing and dance. He’s a photographer. He’s a director. And his films, when you look at them, are extremely daring and inventive. So he was someone that I wanted to emulate, in a way. The cinematographer of the film, Edmond Richard, who had shot a film I worked on directed by Rene Clement, called Hope to Die, with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Aldo Ray and Robert Ryan. It was like I had been invited to the court of Queen Elizabeth. It felt like a real achievement. I tried to work as hard as possible, and be very speedy. Like the weather, you don’t wait for somebody to ask. The moment the director says “I would like to have a…” you know what needs and get it for him. The greatest moment on that set for me was, one day Jerry Lewis got really upset with his crew, and went off on them, saying “You’re all too lazy. You don’t work hard enough. There’s only one guy who understands!” And he pointed to me. I only worked on the film for 15 days, at the circus in Paris. I never heard a thing about it after. I knew it was bogged down in lawsuits after it was finished, but it was an important moment in my professional life. I worked with a lot of amazing people before I directed my first film. I was an assistant director for twelve years. It was a great training ground, watching those masters work. I have many great memories. I started making films very late, you know.”
~ Jean-Jacques Beineix

“A shot is a story. A shot on its own should be a piece of a story. Which is why I talk a lot about watching films, even the films we’re working on, with the sound off. Just to analyze how the film works, because a film should work for an audience without any sound. The biggest problem I see is that someone may have a superficial understanding of what a shot is propositionally, but they don’t have an understanding of how all of these shots are part of a family that needs to connect, and so you’ll get something that’s like a sentence arranged poorly with six nouns in a row. That surprises me, because I think that’s something that can be learned. Some things can’t be, but that can. It’s a grammar. In a classroom I could walk somebody through the difference between a sequence in which the filmmaker has a deep understanding of how images connect, and someone who doesn’t. It’s not really an intellectual process. Some people are just born with it and are just sort of savants at that deep mathematical understanding of shot construction.  I’m better than I used to be, but there are some people I’m just never going to catch. Spielberg. His staging ability. I’m never going to catch him. But when you’re trying to figure out how to get better—I’m not competitive in the sense of looking around at other filmmakers and comparing myself to them. What I do have to think about in trying to navigate myself through a career is: what can I get better at, and what do I have that I can enhance that somebody else doesn’t have?”
~ Steven Soderbergh