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Quentin Tarantino on how American independent cinema coincided with the emergence of grunge

The vision of cinema that has been popularised by Quentin Tarantino over the years is deeply influenced by music. In fact, one of the first steps in Tarantino’s creative process is to go down to the record store and browse through music in order to find the spiritual identity of the upcoming project in his mind.

Right from his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino has received immense praise for the incorporation of soundtracks that add to the film’s narrative in unique ways. In the 1992 gem, he used songs such as ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ and ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ which were deliberately injected into the film.

According to Tarantino, the utilisation of songs like that worked so well because they added an ironic element to the cinematic spectacle of Reservoir Dogs that was characterised by overwhelming violence. Unlike other heist movies, Tarantino focused on the preparation and the consequences of the heist instead of the action.

The director claimed that the juxtaposition of “innocuous ’70s pop songs with this violent crime story” was a commentary on the changing cultural frameworks. He added: “People had gotten sick of the corporatised Hollywood movies of the ’80s and the same thing with the corporatised music of the ’80s.”

Talking about the landscape of independent cinema in America and grunge music, Tarantino explained how they were on similar trajectories: “American independent cinema in general and my movie Reservoir Dogs in particular coincided with the alternative music grunge scene and we kind of were on parallel tracks,” he said.

“The Seattle grunge bands of the day loved Reservoir Dogs. Basically, it was a good tour bus movie,” Tarantino commented. He also revealed how he was moved by the knowledge that Kurt Cobain loved Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino said: “Pearl Jam loved the film. Nirvana loved the film. Kurt Cobain loved the movie so much that he thanked me on [In Utero].”

According to many reports, Tarantino apparently wanted Kurt Cobain to play a role in Pulp Fiction as well. While many fans have questioned this rumour due to the fact that the source of this information was Courtney Love, it isn’t hard to imagine how brilliant it would have been to see the collaboration between Cobain and Tarantino.

See Tarantino discussing the link to grunge, below.

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