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The reason why Quentin Tarantino compared Jean-Luc Godard to Bob Dylan

Quentin Tarantino has learnt and borrowed from a lot of pioneers throughout his career. He has himself cited the likes of Mario Bava and Sergio Leone as chief sources of inspiration, following in the footsteps of New Hollywood auteurs such as Arthur Penn while revolutionising American pop culture in the 1990s with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

While growing up, Tarantino was influenced a lot by filmmakers from around the world and he harboured a special interest in Asian cinema whose elements he later incorporated into his own projects such as Kill Bill. However, he was also exposed to the European traditions of filmmaking and was particularly fascinated by how those traditions were decimated.

At the heart of such a shift was the French New Wave and the pioneer whose film set the ball rolling was none other than Jean-Luc Godard. With Breathless, Godard established a new form of cinematic dialectic which did not rely on the maintenance of the illusion of cinema. Instead, with each transgressive edit, he drew the audience’s attention to the fundamental features of that illusion itself.

In an interview just after the release of his 1994 magnum opus Pulp Fiction, Tarantino spoke about how Godard had an unprecedented impact on the cinematic medium just like what Bob Dylan had done to music. By focusing on film itself as well as film culture, Godard had freed cinema from the tyrannical mores of realism and had made it inherently more cinematic.

“That’s one aspect of Godard that I found very liberating—movies commenting on themselves, movies and movie history,” Tarantino explained. “To me, Godard did to movies what Bob Dylan did to music: they both revolutionised their forms.” He even named his production company after Godard’s iconic 1964 gem Bande à part.

With time, Tarantino outgrew Godard and claimed that love for the French master’s was like a coming-of-age rite for many cinephiles. Despite the diminishing nature of Tarantino’s passion for Godard’s works, he still maintained that Godard was an inspiring figure to anyone who wanted to make films because they loved doing so. “Godard is one who taught me the fun and the freedom and the joy of breaking rules…and just fucking around with the entire medium,” Tarantino declared.

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