Quentin Tarantino is widely regarded as one of modern cinema’s most important and influential filmmakers, having established a distinctive style that legions of viewers have come to love. From his debut film Reservoir Dogs to his most recent feature Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the auteur repeatedly invokes certain stylistic features, such as aestheticized violence, non-linear story-telling, and certain cinematographic techniques such as god’s eye view shots, tracking shots, extreme close-ups, and fast zooms. All serve plenty of purposes, adding suspense, surprise, intensity, or humour.
The influence of a wide variety of genres can be seen through this blend of techniques that has come to be known as ‘Tarantino-esque.’ Elements of the French New Wave, classic Hollywood cinema, and martial arts movies can all be seen in Tarantino’s films, creating a unique amalgamation of cinematic history. Some of his biggest influences include Jean Luc Godard’s Bande a part, (which he named his production company, A Band Apart, after), Scorsese’s iconic Taxi Driver, and Howard Hawk’s Rio Bravo, which he describes as ‘the ultimate hangout movie,’ an aspect he has, of course, put into his own films.
Yet, there is one film that has influenced him more than any other, and is also his favourite film of all time – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Directed by Sergio Leone, the 1966 epic spaghetti western stars Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. Featuring an iconic score by Ennio Morricone and breath-taking cinematography that depicts beautiful widescreen landscapes, the film is regarded as one of, if not the greatest spaghetti western of all time.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly undoubtedly inspired the two Westerns that Tarantino has made: Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, yet the film’s influence can also be seen in his non-Western features; through the swaggering walks of the gangsters in Reservoir Dogs that mirror that of Leone’s cowboys, to the musical motifs that run through his films akin to the sounds of Morricone.
Furthermore, the use of stylised violence, long shots and close-ups are greatly inspired by Leone too, which all come together to create an electrifying effect in both the director’s films. Tarantino heralds Leone as one of the reasons for wanting to become a director, stating that it was viewing Once Upon a Time in the West (which subsequently inspired the title of Tarantino’s most recent flick) that inspired this decision.
Asked by film critic Roger Ebert about the director’s decision to end many of his films with gunfights, such as True Romance, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino stated that this was largely inspired by Sergio Leone. He explained that “I never felt gypped when Sergio Leone ended every Western he did with a showdown. That’s just the way they ended. But every single one was different.”
In an interview with Empire magazine, Tarantino was asked a multitude of questions by fans, and naturally, the topic of his favourite film was brought up. Being asked, “what is your favourite shot from [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?]” Tarantino’s answer was an easy one.
He said: “That’s easy. During the three-way bullring showdown at the end, the music builds to the giant orchestra crescendo, and when it gets to the first big explosion of the theme there’s a wide shot of the bullring. After you’ve seen all the little shots of the guys getting into position, you suddenly see the whole wideness of the bullring and all the graves around them. It’s my favourite shot in the movie, but I’ll even say it’s my favourite cut in the history of movies.”
Check out his favourite scene below: