Ask any musician to pick out their favourite song and, chances are, most will come back with some tired old simile akin to Sophie’s Choice or another heart-wrenching moment when one must decide on the fate of one’s children. It’s a similar situation for the acclaimed directors of the world too. When fame and fandom reach fever pitch, sooner or later, you’ll be asked to pick out your favourite movie from your own filmography and, in doing so, risk alienating your entire fanbase. However, Quentin Tarantino has never been concerned about such things.
With ten astounding feature films in the bag, the director has never been forced into selecting a favourite. That’s likely because it is easy to see how the filmmaker could come unstuck when comparing his canon against itself. His movies are just so wildly different. Though they may share a whole host of Tarantino style cues, violence, vengeance, and victory are usual tropes, the storylines of each piece meander in completely different rhythms. However, the director was once asked to pick out his favourite scene from one of his movies and, this question seemed to grab his attention.
In our earlier comparison, picking out one’s favourite scene may well be akin to asking a songwriter for their favourite lyric or a guitarist their favourite riff. So many different scenes going into making a whole feature film that picking a favourite can become quite daunting when addressing an arsenal of films with as much firepower as Tarantino’s. During the press run for The Hateful Eight, Tarantino was posed a pretty perfect question: what is his favourite scene he has ever written? “That’s actually such a good question. I don’t even know if I have an answer for it, especially with this pressed-for-time bullshit,” responded the director.
However, he did eventually relent and provide an answer for the audience member: “My favourite thing I think I’ve ever written is the scene at the French farmhouse at the beginning of Inglourious Basterds“.
It’s a seriously great scene too. Not only does it feature some of the finest acting Christoph Waltz has ever provided as the gruesome and horrifyingly charming ‘Jew Hunter’, Hans Landa. A career war criminal, Landa’s violence is hidden and purposeful, like the cold steel of a gun in your back and an arm around your shoulder. There’s no better capturing of this understated violence than in his infamous opening scene in Soshanna’s farmhouse.
The opening scene clocks in at around 20 minutes and is utterly compelling from start to finish as Landa takes on a farmer who has been hiding a Jewish family. It concludes with the farmer filling a pipe and lighting it before Landa takes out his own comically large pip and begins smoking away, one-upping the farmer in more ways than one and, eventually, killing all but one of the Jewish family who were hidden under the floorboards. It sets up the film for its enigmatic finale and lands as perhaps one of Tarantino’s finest moments on screen.
During the same conversation, Tarantino also revealed that while Inglorious Basterds had been one of his devoted scripts — working on it for over ten years — and the scene is some of his best work, there was another film which, previously, he had noted as his favourite. “Before that, it was, in my very first script, True Romance, it was the whole Sicilian speech. That was the one to beat.” Tarantino said. “And then when I finally wrote that scene in Inglorious Basterds, I was like, ‘Oh, I think I finally beat that one!'”
Both scenes are incredibly gifted pieces of work. Not only did they rely on that most human of things; dialogue, but they also show the vibrancy of the stories at hand and the sheer talent of the man who wrote them.
Below, watch both scenes unfold as two of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite moments from his movies.