March 28, 2019

7 Iconic Tarantino Shots (and How He Uses Them to Tell Stories)

Why are Quentin Tarantino's shots so...Tarantinoesque?

Quentin Tarantino has been making films for over three decades and in that time he has created one of the most recognizable cinematic styles in the industry.

But how? He uses pretty much the same shots that every other filmmaker uses: the POV shot, tracking shot, and extreme close-up. How does he manage to infuse his unique filmmaking flavor into his compositions?

To explore this, let's first take a look at this video by Kellan Reck, in which he goes over 7 shots that Tarantino uses on the regular. 

Here are the shots Reck mentions in the video:

  • The POV shot
  • The God's Eye Shot
  • The Quick Zoom
  • The Tracking Shot
  • The Extreme Close-Up
  • The Slow Push-In
  • Foot Shots

For the most part, these shots are pretty standard and can be found in any filmmaker's bag o' tricks. So, if it's not the actual shot types that define Tarantino's iconic cinematic style, what is it?

It's most definitely a combination of things, from his narrative content to his bold use of color, but perhaps the element that ties it all together is the fact that he uses the most extreme and striking shots during the most pivotal scenes and moments in his films.

Introducing a character? Do a quick zoom. Your hero wrestles with whether or not he should go save that dude in the back room? Do a slow push-in. Got a foot fetish and want to accentuate all the pretty pinky toes? Foot shots!

Tarantino has such an intriguing way of stylizing an image by 1.) embracing the 60s and 70s cinematographic aesthetic...all those zooms and slow push-ins, and 2.) forcing the audience to view his world from unfamiliar perspectives, like overheads (God's Eye), extreme close-ups, and his trademark POV shots. 

He compels you to look. He compels you to pay attention to not only the story but the way the story is told visually because he packs so much information and context into composition and camera movement.

And it makes sense...if you're going to have cool ass characters that are unique and unforgettable, then you need to have cool ass shots that are also unique and unforgettable.     

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