Django Unchained was released on Christmas Day and since then the film has since shocked and delighted audiences with a take on the spaghetti western that only Tarantino could deliver. NPR’s Terry Gross sits down with Quentin for a half hour discussion on memories of his youth, the making of Django, and his inspirations as a filmmaker.
In the interview Tarantino speaks on Westerns as a barometer of American culture.
“One of the things that’s interesting about Westerns in particular is [that] there’s no other genre that reflects the decade that they were made or the morals and the feelings of Americans during that decade [more] than Westerns. Westerns are always a magnifying glass as far as that’s concerned.
“The Westerns of the ’50s definitely have an Eisenhower, birth of suburbia and plentiful times aspect to them. America started little by little catching up with its racist past by the ’50s, at the very, very beginning of [that decade], and that started being reflected in Westerns. Consequently, the late ’60s have a very Vietnam vibe to the Westerns, leading into the ’70s. And by the mid-’70s, you know, most of the Westerns literally could be called ‘Watergate Westerns,’ because it was about disillusionment and tearing down the myths that we have spent so much time building up.”
Whenever I watch a film one of the things I take careful note of is the styling of the characters. Quentin Tarantino is one of the few modern day auteurs working and while his films may not be thought of as particuarly ‘fashionable’, I believe that his filmography is a case study in incredible styling work. The role of costume design in film is to suspend disbelief and to allow the viewer to focus on the story. In this way the characters in Tarantino’s films look so natural in their surroundings; and the clothes help convey their individual backstories without explicit exposition.
Unlike say Wes Anderson who uses a nostalgic 1970’s color palette and pulls from a consistent aesthetic for all his films, Tarantino draws from unique inspirations for each film. His films have traversed many locales and time periods but there a real consistency in the styling approach in each. The clothes worn by key characters are rarely over the top; instead they reflect a gritty sense of realism. There is a sense of the everyday in the outfits of those on-screen. The clothes are worn with authority and authenticity and through that process the clothes themselves can almost seem like an afterthought and not the result of careful curation.
Below I’ve selected visuals from Quentin Tarantino’s filmography that display his prowess as a style influencer. It’ll be interesting to see what Django Unchained looks like when it hits theaters Christmas Day.
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