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Quentin Tarantino’s venomous criticism of Stanley Kubrick


From Takashi Miike’s surreal thrillers to Brian De Palma’s intricate crime movies, filmmaker and cultural icon Quentin Tarantino is a lover of all kinds of cinema, never discriminating by genre, budget or country. Immersing himself in the artistic craft from a young age, Tarantino developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the industry, in part thanks to his job working at the Video Archives store in his youth. 

Preferring to simply watch and learn from cinema instead of attending film school, Tarantino became a student of cinema in every sense of the word, building a love for every genre as he learnt from the masters of the art form. A purveyor of movies from a very young age, Tarantino describes himself as “first and foremost a film geek,” in a discussion with Gerald Peary in 1992, adding: “All I ever spend money on is movie posters, videotapes, and books”. 

Where many other students of the craft would pick out directors such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick as their early inspirations, Tarantino stated in the ‘90s interview, “My four favourite directors in the world are [Brian] De Palma, [Sergio] Leone, [Jean-Luc] Godard and Howard Hawks”. 

As a lover of westerns and crime drama, his picks are not so surprising, particularly as later in life he would exclaim his dislike for Stanley Kubrick, a director who is often praised as an industry icon by film lovers. 

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In conversation with The New Yorker in 2003, the filmmaker behind Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained explained that he found Kubrick’s films a little too cold, aiming much of his annoyance at the 1971 movie A Clockwork Orange. “I always thought Kubrick was a hypocrite,” Tarantino told the publication, “Because his party line was, I’m not making a movie about violence, I’m making a movie against violence”.

Causing quite the visceral reaction for Tarantino, the filmmaker venomously bursts, “And it’s just, like, Get the fuck off. I know and you know your dick was hard the entire time you were shooting those first twenty minutes, you couldn’t keep it in your pants the entire time you were editing it and scoring it”. 

Frustrated by the filmmaker, Tarantino calls Kubrick a hypocrite for celebrating violence in “those first twenty minutes,” with the director further adding, “And if you don’t say you did you’re a fucking liar”. 

Tarantino, of course, is quite the lover of cinematic violence, often inserting a good dose of bloodshed in each and every one of his films. In fact, he’s a great fan of the introduction for A Clockwork Orange, stating, “That first twenty minutes is pretty fucking perfect,”. Continuing, he even gushes, “it’s about as poppy and visceral and perfect a piece of cinematic movie making as I think had ever been done up until that time”. 

For Quentin Tarantino, it seems the main issue he had with Kubrick’s 1971 film was the hypocrisy of the depiction of violence, still seeing the film as a proficient piece of cinema. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the Pulp Fiction director simply wasn’t much of a Kubrick fan, however, believing his films were detached and cold, even calling his 1962 adaptation of Lolita “fraudulent”. 

One day, we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of Tarantino’s beef with Kubrick.