So idiosyncratic is the personality of Quentin Tarantino, that to imagine him as a teenager is something of a tricky task, with his boyish fondness for cinematic violence and profanity likely reaching overdrive.
With an encyclopedic knowledge of seemingly every facet of cinema, the Pulp Fiction director grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and worked at a video store in his youth to build up his extensive knowledge of the industry. Preferring to simply watch and learn from cinema instead of attending film school, Tarantino immersed himself into the world of monochrome Japanese samurai cinema as well as the thrillers of the horror genre before creating his very first film My Best Friend’s Birthday in 1987.
Able to hone and perfect his knowledge of cinema through working at the video store, the young filmmaker often recommended films to visitors, even steering them away from titles that were not to his liking. Speaking to The Talks, the director stated: “[My] head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behaviour, people tell me a joke and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life and I remember it”.
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”.
Asked by Peary to describe himself when he was younger, Tarantino recalls, “When I was 18 or 19, I was going to write a book on genre filmmakers- John Flynn, Joe Dante, John Milius, Richard Franklin- and engage them in a conversation with movies”. Keen to dig deep into the world of cinema in all its forms, the filmmaker chose an eclectic mix of directors to follow, remembering, “My four favourite directors in the world are [Brian] De Palma, [Sergio] Leone, [Jean-Luc] Godard and Howard Hawks”.
Choosing a range of filmmakers from across the world, with half of the four choices coming from America in Howard Hawks and Brian De Palma, Tarantino had a good grasp of international cinema from a young age, also choosing the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and the Italian Sergio Leone.
So enamoured by the aforementioned filmmakers, that Tarantino would often fantasise about meeting the iconic directors, even spending time together in the young creative’s wild dreams. “I once had a dream that I was invited to a party at Hawk’s house,” Tarantino recalled, adding, “Robert Mitchum was on a balcony and said, “You’re here to see the old man.” Hawks was on a patio with John Wayne. He said, “Hey, Quentin, come down, kid.” I woke up. I was sad, it was so real”.
Quentin Tarantino’s favourite directors of his youth
- Brian De Palma
- Howard Hawks
- Jean-Luc Godard
- Sergio Leone
Take a look at the trailer for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Sergio Leone, below, a film that Quentin Tarantino has long called his favourite movie of all time.