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The mixing of popular culture and crime genre something the audience hadn’t see before to this extent and made the characters more recognisable as real people because they all talk about things that we talk about
When Quentin Tarantino worked in a video store, he referred to the French film Au Revoir Les Enfants (Malle, 1987) as ‘the reservoir film’ because he couldn’t pronounce the title. He combined this with Straw Dogs, a Sam Pekinpah film from 1971 to produce the title Reservoir Dogs.
The use of the stereotypical and the original (criminals talking about everyday things) worked extremely well as it caused people to questions the stereotypes of characters and things from other films in comparison.
The pop culture of the film allows for snappy dialogue revealing part of the true characters self
There is a clear post-modern mix of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art apparent in Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino uses both popular culture (‘low’ art) and traditional literary techniques (‘high’ art), which blend extremely well to create a tense and gripping film Noir. The literary techniques include the use of chapter titles and a non-linear narrative .
The chapters in this film work to slowly provide a clearer view of the picture. This use of techniques which are more commonly associated with literature is one of Tarantino’s trademarks and is used in all the other films he has both written and directed.
Tarantino not only creates an interesting and effective narrative which blurs the distinctions between high and low art, he also plays with generic expectations. This is done in part by the humorous and often irrelevant dialogue which breaks generic stereotypes.
Tarantino later uses actors in different roles based on earlier roles. Playing homage to his earlier work, such as in Reservoir dogs Mr. Pink has strong ideals on tipping and Tarantino later stars him as a waiter in Pulp Fiction.
The initial scene also shows us the power relations between the characters.
For example, Mr. White clearly has guts, taking the bosses book from him and refusing to give it back . Mr. Blonde offers to shoot him. Though this is said jokingly, there is an undertone of menace highlighted by his imitating this, shooting by using his hand as a gun. This is a precursor to Mr. Blonde underlying traits, a hint that he’s really a cold, gun-toting hard man.
ear slicing scene
One memorable element of this 70s theme is evident in the ear slicing scene
The music that accompanies the torture is ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ by Steelers Wheel.
Prior to this scene Mr Blonde reveals a police officer in the trunk of his car after arriving at the warehouse, and we see the trademark view from inside the trunk of the car, something which is present in all the films directed by Tarantino.
ear slicing scene
What follows is the culmination of all the work that has been put in by Tarantino on building up a picture of Mr Blonde’s character for the audience.
We see close-ups of the cop’s face before he has been tortured. This has the effect of showing us the consequences of the violence that has taken place while at the same time allowing us to empathise with the officer as he waits to see what Mr. Blonde will do, just as the audience does.
ear slicing scene
In the ear slicing scene we see another effective use of juxtaposition in the film. At the same time as being appalled by what Mr. Blonde is doing to the police officer, which is a blend of physical and physiologic torture, the audience is enjoying the upbeat ‘ Stuck in the middle with you’
The two reactions of repulsion and enjoyment are therefore juxtaposed, making this scene on of the most memorable in the film.