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Quentin Tarantino explains the "ingredients for a gangster film"

Over the years, Quentin Tarantino has talked about his love for the gangster genre at great lengths. He has contributed to the world of crime films in numerous ways himself, stylising the violence inherent in those cinematic investigations. With films like Kill Bill, Tarantino emerged as one of the most prominent practitioners of arthouse action.

One of the most subversive traditions in the history of American filmmaking, gangster films have played an important role in the articulation of cries of protest against the prevalent sociocultural norms of the time. They serve as important critiques of the conservative sensibilities that dominate media representations, providing glimpses of a disturbing reality.

Since the pre-code era of Hollywood, masterpieces such as The Public Enemy and Scarface managed to capture the public imagination in unprecedented ways. They openly declared that they were trying to acknowledge the reality of criminality in society which had been vehemently denied by the commentators who claimed that America was the perfect utopian society.

Those early gangster films provided a fantastic framework for New Hollywood auteurs like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma which helped them conduct their own unforgettable interpretations of the genre. To this day, modern crime films serve as the perfect vehicle for combining the gravity of cultural commentary with the entertainment of action.

In an interview with the American Film Institute, Tarantino elaborated on the essential elements of a gangster film. He has already stated his interest in making a 1930s style gangster flick, with many speculating that it might be his final project. Tarantino stated that any gangster film should have “a good, pulpy story or you need an aspect of criminality that you want to put under a microscope.”

He went on to add that a satirical subtext is also a crucial element of the gangster genre. The director supported his point by pointing out: “In almost all cases, gangster films were sort-of parodies of the American Dream. They’re the looking glass, the askew bizarre-o world of getting rich in business in America.”

See the clip, below.