2 years ago1,000+ Views
Tension, Shapes, and Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino is idolized by both film buff and the casual movie watcher. His films are almost always held in high regard and his knowledge of film history shows in his work.
But I'm not going to talk about how intertextual he is or his snarky/quick-witted dialogue. I'm going to talk about shapes. That's right. Shapes.
One scene from Inglourious Basterds comes to mind. The bar shootout scene or more specifically the moments right before the shootout.
Throughout this scene there are constant shapes being made by each character and the position they hold in the frame.
The first triangle we see occurs at the 20 second mark. Major Hellstrom (on the right), Lt. Archie Hicox (on the left) and Eric the Bartender in the background of the scene. This triangle is probably the most equal of all the shapes that appear. The two characters in the foreground have equal space between them and the bartender in the background is (almost) placed directly in the middle of them. By framing them this way, it lets the viewer know that each character is on equal footing. At this point in the scene, no one character has more power than the other.
However, as the scene goes on the framing of the characters shifts and changes to show the shifts in power throughout the scene.
Around the 50 second mark of the clip, there are four characters on the screen. Hicox and Bridget occupy the left side of the frame while Eric and Helstrom occupy the right side of the frame.
Their positions create a lop-sided quadrilateral, the side that Eric and Helstrom occupy is the larger than the side that Bridget and Hicox occupy. This shows us who has the power in the scene. It's at this moment that Bridget and Hicox are at their most tense (since, you know, you saw the movie, right?).
By framing each scene the way that he does, Tarantino creates visually pleasing shots that also contribute to the narrative within the film.
Anyway, that's my minute. Were there any other shapes you noticed in this scene? Let me know in the comments section and we can talk about it.
This is not what I expected at all! For some reason I can't handle the gore in Tarantino films (even though I know its supposed to be ridiculous) so I spent most of Inglorious Basterds staring at my feet instead of the screen. Details like framing always slide past me, so thanks for pointing it out!
2 years ago·Reply
@caricakes I agree with you, though. Tarantino's use of violence is so excessive at times it's hard to keep your eyes locked on the screen. And you're totally welcome! I freak out about framing and all that stuff. You can actually see how Tarantino was influenced by Japanese directer Akira Kurosawa. The geometry of scenes are a huge part of his work, you should check some of his films out if you haven't already.
2 years ago·Reply
This is great analysis! There are no limits to Tarantino's genius... it's just up to us to figure out what he's up to.
2 years ago·Reply