A Look Back at Tarantino’s 5 Most Controversial Films
For someone so respected throughout the film industry, it’s surprising how at the same time Quentin Tarantino has courted so much controversy throughout his eventful and storied career as a director. His first feature made back in 1992 was his blood splattered ode to the heist movie genre, Reservoir Dogs. This acclaimed crime caper served as a launching pad for Tarantino’s now celebrated career, and along the way earned a rightful spot in this list of Tarantino’s 5 most controversial films.
Violence has become a hallmark of Tarantino’s films, and the bloodbath that is his debut film Reservoir Dogs is the perfect example. The film was a critical success, but it wasn’t for the feint of heart, with it’s scenes of graphic violence putting off some viewers, with one particularly grusome moment that would linger uncomfortably in the memory for a long time.
The torture scene is infamous for its graphic content, with the psychopathic Mr. Blonde (played by Michael Madsen) mocking a police officer before gruesomely slicing off his ear, all set against the upbeat 70s hit “Stuck in the Middle with You” which is playing in the background. That scene was too disturbing even for horror icon Wes Craven, who reportedly left the cinema mid-scene.
This cult classic is such a brilliant piece of filmmaking that it overcame its controversial themes, its stomach-churning brutality, and accusations of racism. While Pulp Fiction may not have the body count of Tarantino’s later films, it became notorious for its realistic and vicious depiction of violence.
The violence and tone of the film was likely the reason why it lost to Forrest Gump in a Best Picture race that Time considers as one of the most controversial in cinema history.
Inglourious Basterds courted controversy for an altogether different reason: its revisionist storytelling. In this 2009 war movie, Tarantino shows he probably got his history lessons from the moves by offering an alternate take on World War II, one in which the war in Germany ends in a very different way. The film was an affront to history hardliners, but was nonetheless a huge success, including, quite ironically, in Germany. As with the rest of Tarantino’s films, the violence was unflinching. The clip below is not one for the squeamish.
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Violence is a hallmark of a Tarantino film, and for his fourth feature he took things up a notch with Kill Bill Vol. 1, another of his movies that stirred plenty of controversy. The showdown at House of Blue Leaves had enough violence, gore, and blood to fill an entire film, and it lasted all of seven minutes! The scene had to be shown in black-and-white in the U.S. to pass the sensibilities of film censors. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is all-action, all-violence, and Tarantino made no qualms about it.
Recently, the franchise was again dragged into controversy as executive producer Harvey Weinstein was accused by multiple women of sexual offences. Among Weinstein’s accusers was Kill Bill star Uma Thurman, who took a shot at the embattled movie mogul via Instagram. Perhaps fittingly, the 47-year-old actress included a photo of her Kill Bill character Beatrix right before she vows to go on a “rampage of revenge” (that scene is from Kill Bill Vol. 2).
Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained is a revisionist Western film that didn’t escape controversy, in part due to its – you guessed it – graphic violence. Yet it was also highly controversial in the way slavery was depicted in the film. Some critics found the film’s escapism, humour, and overall tone insensitive to the topic of slavery.
Regardless Django Unchained became Tarantino’s highest-grossing theatrical release to date, earning well over $400 million worldwide per Box Office Mojo.
Tarantino’s next film will be no less controversial. As The MALESTROM reported last month the visionary filmmaker will make a film based around the Manson Murders in the 1960s. Despite the controversial subject the film is generating a lot of buzz due to the fact that it will star two of Tarantino’s former alumni in the Hollywood royalty that is Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie, titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is set for release next year.