Watch: The Tarantino Death Toll
Ever wonder how many people have died in Quentin Tarantino films? Or what’s behind the director’s seeming obsession with killing? Kevin B. Lee, Chief Video Essayist at Fandor, has tackled the bloody topic with a video essay on the body count in Tarantino’s films. Note the video’s warning: “the following video contains disturbing imagery of extreme violence and death.”
In the text essay that accompanies the video (which you can watch above), Lee explains that he created this video after the release of Tarantino’s last film, Django Unchained, but this is the first time it’s being published (read the essay to understand why).
The video begins with an “In Memoriam” title card before tallying up the death toll and honoring the sometimes nameless characters who lost their lives in the name of on-screen drama. Remember poor Marvin, who got shot in the face in Pulp Fiction, or Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs? Whether they’re shot, beaten with a baseball bat, tortured or scalped, the victims in Tarantino’s films die in memorable fashion. Here, Lee pays homage to the characters whose lives were cut short by Tarantino.
As Lee points out, there’s a thin line between celebrating the violence and commenting on it. He writes:
With Tarantino’s films, it is crucial to be conflicted. I can only hope that this video creates an ambivalent space to engage with his films and their fascination with violent death. One can compare his depictions of death from film to film and discover trends and patterns. If regarding them from a purely technical standpoint, one marvels at the stunning variety of staging and camera techniques, explosions and sound effects—even the type of blood splatter has distinct qualities handpicked for each scenario. For me it’s clear that the early films have a more individuated approach to killing—each victim stands out more as a person, compared to what we see in the later films when one can no longer manage to count all the bodies being laid to waste.
The video also serves as the perfect preparation for Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, which promises to be equally violent. [Editor’s note: that’s not even the half of it.]