Quentin Tarantino’s love of the western genre is no secret, even creating a list of his favourite 20 spaghetti western films, alongside his own films of the kind, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. Including the likes of the great Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Duccio Tessar and Giulio Petroni, the western genre had a pertinent effect on the influential director.
Speaking to The Spectator in 2019 the director even stated, “The movie that made me consider filmmaking, the movie that showed me how a director does what he does, how a director can control a movie through his camera, is Once Upon a Time in the West”. Continuing, Tarantino added, “It really illustrated how to make an impact as a filmmaker. How to give your work a signature. I found myself completely fascinated, thinking: ‘That’s how you do it.’ It ended up creating an aesthetic in my mind”.
Combine his love of the western genre together with his appreciation for the surreal horror cinema of Takashi Miike, and you can create quite the compelling feature film for Quentin Tarantino. Describing Miike’s 1999 film Audition as a “True masterpiece if ever there was one”, it would only be a matter of eight years until the director would find the allure of Miike’s own surreal western Sukiyaki Western Django simply too hypnotic to turn down.
Taking a role in Takashi Miike’s film, released in 2007, five years before Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, the director appears as a surreal gunslinger during the film’s opening sequence.
Describing himself as an “Eastwood-esque” character during a press conference for the film, Tarantino’s character is more of an eccentric wildling, shooting a bird clutching a snake from the sky, before cutting the snake open to retrieve the bird’s egg in the opening scene. Approached by a gang of black-clad criminals, Tarantino engages in a strange monologue all about the “War of the Rose, y’know in England” before putting on a Japanese accent to tell a local folk tale.
Flinging the egg into the air with the sound of a comical “zing”, he distracts the group and stylishly kills them off one by one with a simple gunshot each. After taking out the gang leader he catches the egg that has long been flying through the air, cracks it into a ramen bowl and mixes it with a pair of chopsticks. It’s a crazy scene that well encompasses the tone of the film that Tarantino describes as “sukiyaki-slash-macaroni”, combining multiple cultural styles and storytelling techniques.
Speaking about his time on the film, the director commented, “I’ve always loved Japanese films so much, and so it’s always been a desire of mine to actually work in a Japanese movie for the Japanese film industry — to see what it’s like, and the differences, because I always just embrace stuff like that. But to actually do it with what I consider one of the greatest directors living today, Miike-san, is actually a dream come true”.
His cameo appearance in the film ends with one of the director’s very best on-screen moments, featuring him take a large slice on nondescript meat, dip it into his egg bowl and look toward the sky, screaming what sounds to be the opening riff of the main theme to The Good the Bad and the Ugly.
Takashi Miike, Quentin Tarantino, “sukiyaki-slash-macaroni” influences, what an iconic film.