Being Quentin Tarantino: A Cultural Phenomenon, even in the tattoo multiverse

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Quentin Tarantino’s contribution to the world transcends cinema. Over the years, he has repeatedly stated that he will only direct ten films before calling it a day, and with the impending release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the legend of Tarantino has reached its epilogue.

Photo Courtesy: Flavorwire on Pinterest

Ever since the release of Reservoir Dogs way back in 1992, Tarantino solidified himself as one of the greatest directors of all time. What sets him apart from a lot of his peers is that he has actually written every film he has directed. Each of his films has been historically talk-heavy, but something about the way he writes makes each word absolutely enthralling. A lot of what he has done has found its way into pop culture and has stood the tests of time. Moments from his films have been immortalized in pop culture, whether it is John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing in Pulp Fiction or Leonardo DiCaprio busting his hand open in Django Unchained, his films have become much more than just cinema, they are integral threads in the fabric of our society.

Tattoos can often be reflections of the society we live in, so it isn’t really all that surprising to see Tarantino’s influence in the world of ink as well. A film like Pulp Fiction exudes cool in every frame and single-handedly revived John Travolta’s career, while making Samuel L. Jackson one of the most immediately recognizable movie stars in the world.

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Artist Unknown
Artist Unknown

Each of Tarantino’s films is kind of like a tattoo; each is distinctive, but is stamped with the artist’s flair, making it unlike any other piece in the world. The term ‘Tarantino-esque’ hasn’t been conjured up out of thin air, Tarantino’s films go beyond just being a motion picture. The man himself once stated that he writes two kinds of scripts; one being a “Movie Movie” and the other being “Realer than the Real World”. Films such as Kill Bill Vol. I & II, Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds would be examples of “Movie Movie” scripts; a celebration of the unhinged and bat-shit crazy. None of these stories are particularly believable from the context of a real-world standpoint, because *spoiler alert* Hitler wasn’t actually shot in a movie theatre like he was in Inglorious Basterds. These films are a celebration of the wonders of cinema, where audiences flock to see stories that take them to a world unlike their own.

Tattoo by Carlos Fabra Cosafina

On the other hand, the events of films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs could very well go down in our world. Whether by coincidence or a deeper understanding of Tarantino’s work, the tattoo community acknowledges the inherent dichotomy of his films, as tattoos based on his films widely vary between what is realistic and ink that celebrates the sheer ridiculousness of some of his films.

Not convinced yet? Think about it for a second. When you think about Pulp Fiction tattoos, what do you see in your mind’s eye? It’s probably either a frame of Vincent Vega and Jules holding up their guns in a suit, or Vega breaking out some cool moves with Mia Wallace on the dance floor. But when you think about a film like Kill Bill or Django Unchained, you will probably see The Bride in her trademark yellow jumpsuit, with blood dripping down her sword, or you’ll see Calvin Candie’s blood-soaked hand raised to his face, seething with rage. Now, take a step back and ask yourself, which seems more grounded in reality and which is more fantastical?

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Tattoo by Johnny Domus Mesquita
Tattoo by Charley Gerardin
Photo Courtesy Buzzfeed. Artist Unknown

It’s cool if you’re not entirely sold on that idea, but one thing we can all agree on is the fact that Tarantino’s films are by-and-large, rather violent. He has aggressively defended his stance when he has been accused of using violence for shock value and not much else, stating that the bloodshed has been central to the story he is telling. Of course, everyone has a different interpretation of Tarantino’s claims, but there is one thing that cannot be denied; tattoos inspired by his films, adorned with violence, are works of art, just like his films.

There is something to be said how tattoos can give concepts new meaning. Ideas and illustrations on the page can appear macabre, violent, maybe even offensive, but once bound to skin, its meaning evolves into something entirely new, defined by the person hosting the ink. You can’t think of The Bride in Kill Bill without her sword, and it is difficult to picture Aldo Raine without his knife. On film, they are harbingers of death, but in ink, they are a celebration of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. A legend of his craft, time will tell if Tarantino’s next film will be his magnum opus.

Tattoo by Duncan Viegas, Goa

Nine down, one to go.


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