When news broke last year that Quentin Tarantino had cajoled Uma Thurman into forcing an unsafe car through the filming of Kill Bill which resulted in an accident, the manager called it”the biggest regret of his life”. Shortly after, reports came out that he had spat on Thurman during filming and had choked her in one scene, as well as strangling Diane Kruger at a scene in Inglourious Basterds. The question today is: is it time to cancel Quentin Tarantino?
His latest film, Once Upon a Time… at Hollywood, has triggered considerable unease as it chooses on the gruesome subject of the murder of Sharon Tate, among others, by the Manson”family” in 1969. His interest in savage violence against girl is, even if we look back, a common thread in almost all of his movies.
In Tarantino’s debut directorial feature, Reservoir Dogs, the sole female characters at the credits are”Shot Woman” and”Shocked Woman”. Pulp Fiction, his second movie, features female characters more prominently, but a trend of revelling in the abuse of women began to emerge. Among Pulp Fiction’s most famous scenes entails Uma Thurman’s character getting stabbed in the heart with a shot of adrenaline to resuscitate her following a drug overdose. (even though it’s reasonable to state male personalities were also subjected to intense violence.)
The Kill Bill films were a cinematic orgy of onscreen violence, and most of it directed in Thurman: her personality is severely beaten during and buried alive. Daryl Hannah’s character Elle Driver does not fare much better — she has her eyes pulled out.
The issue remains whether we should continue to indulge the director’s fondness for piling abuse on women, particularly in light of his own admission of acting out scenes of violence towards his female actors, even when he claims it is in pursuit of the perfect shot.
Among the characters in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is Tate’s husband, Roman Polanski. Last year, soon after Tarantino got into hot water on the revelations of his on-set behaviour, an sound recording surfaced from a 2003 interview where he stated that he didn’t feel that Polanski’s sexual assault with a 13-year-old woman in 1977 should have been classified as rape. Tarantino stated she was”down with it” and Polanski”had sex with a little. That is rape.”
At the time it led to widespread condemnation, but afterwards Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood premiered at the Cannes film festival in May, the calls for”cancel” him’ve died down. The following film may differ, and we may see a more contrite Tarantino, but we must ask whether we should bother to find out the answer?