Saturday, 15 February 2014

Cutting Edge Film Programme: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Figure 1: Movie Poster [Still Image]
Reservoir Dogs (1992) is an American crime film that involves six strangers who were assembled to pull off the perfect crime by mob boss Joe Cabot. They were given fake names with the intention that it would not be personal amongst each other and their main concentration lies at completing the job instead. The six strangers are Mr. White, a professional criminal; Mr. Orange, a young newcomer; Mr. Blonde, a trigger-happy killer; Mr. Pink, a paranoid neurotic; Mr. Brown; and Mr. Blue. The robbery that they were so sure would be a success went terribly wrong when the police ambush the site of the robbery. As panic spreads amongst the group members, Mr Brown was killed in the subsequent shootout and Mr Orange was seriously injured. When the remaining people assemble at the premeditated rendezvous point, a diamond warehouse, they begin to suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.

Reservoir Dogs cuts back and forth between pre- and post-robbery events, occasionally putting the narrative on hold to let the characters discuss topics such as the relative importance of tipping in the opening scene. The opening scene exists to clearly establish every fact that the audience needs to know about each character. Haflidason supports this discussion and is accurate when points out “Abandoning the conventional format of natural chronological storytelling, Tarantino creates a tapestry of flashbacks that cleverly build to a conclusion. This allows separate scenes to be showcased as individual vignettes that the cast exploit to the full.” (Haflidason, 2000)
Figure 2: Mr. Pink Refuses To Tip [Still Image]
In addition to the unconventional storytelling, Tarantino have also used various simplistic yet very effective camera tricks in this opening scene. It starts off with a discussion about Madonna's Like A Virgin with no visuals. It then quickly progresses into a drifting camera shot which pans around the participants at the table. This shot can be considered brilliant as it is not just about the energy but also the way it stays tightly framed. This draws the attention to a certain aspect of the shot, keeping the audience from seeing the whole table at once. As the camera moves behind the backs of people at the table at times causing the screen to turn black, it makes the audience to be more attentive as the dialogue becomes the main emphasis of the shot. The use of the dialogues has been an influence for violent movies made after this film because the dialogues contribute to increase the tension of a situation rather than diminish it. Puddicombe emphasizes this point when he states “Its use of foul mouthed, small-talking gangsters has set the tone for standard gangster film dialogue since, and its visceral violence, instinctively chosen music and sheer coolness has set the mark that contemporary directors of crime films have since strived to match." (Puddicombe, 2013)
Figure 3: Restaurant Scene [Still Image]
One of the contexts that can be derived from this film is the homoerotic nature of Mr. Orange and Mr. White’s relationship. This film is briefly dedicated to white heterosexual masculinity. It can be seen from the way they carry themselves by wearing the sharp black suits, carrying the guns, portraying the violence and act of racism. However, the main focus still lies on masculinity. On the other hand, Mr. Orange and Mr White embodies the most stereotypically feminine traits of their colleagues. Mr. White is the nurturer, and Mr. Orange the child, pleading for Mr. White to “hold” him and take care of him. They both share same kind of vulnerability. An example would be in one of the final scenes where Joe, Eddie and Mr. White are in a triangular stand-off. This shot in itself provides an interesting interpretation on traditional masculinity. It is the threat to prove who is the most dominant one. Eddie is protecting his “Daddy,” Joe is protecting his patriarchal business and Mr. White is protecting Mr. Orange. Mr. White is the most empathetic and kind, and he wins that battle.
Figure 4: Warehouse Scene [Still Image]
Dawson concludes this masterpiece by Tarantino very precisely when he says Seminal, in terms of its discursive dialogue, bursts of ultra-violence and unsettling machismo, Reservoir Dogs still seems groundbreaking.” (Dawson, 2008)

List of Illustrations:

Figure 1 Resevoir Dogs (1992) [Poster] at (Accessed on 12 February 2014)

Figure 2 Mr Pink Refuses To Tip (1992) [Still Image] at,file=117734,filename=i-dont-tip1.jpg(Accessed on 12 February 2014)

Figure 3 Restaurant Scene 91992) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 12 February 2014)

Figure 4 Warehouse Scene(1992) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 12 February 2014)

List of Bibliography:

Dawson, Jeff (2008) Reservoir Dogs At: (Accessed on 12 February 2014)

Haflidason, Almar (2000) Reservoir Dogs (1992) At: (Accessed on 12 February 2014)

Puddicombe, Stephen (2013) Reservoir Dogs At:
(Accessed on 12 February 2014)

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