The auteur debate was initiated by Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, 2 key French New Wave directors. Both Scorsese and Tarantino are considered by many to be auteurs, many film critics and others in the industry have stated that with films made by both these directors can be identified as theirs before being told so. This is a true auteur; someone who can make all their films along the same guidelines, and put their stamp on every scene of every film. They bring their character, thoughts, feelings and interests to their films, the films seen personal to the director.
Tarantino is probably seen as the most famous auteur, most people, whether they’ve watched his films or not, know he has a certain style of film making. In all his films Tarantino uses dark humor, for example he tries to make violence appear funny, he takes aspects from other films, whether this be a scene, a character, a storyline or a technique, music from the 1970’s and a large amount of the same actors.
Tarantino’s first major film that set him on to be an auteur was ‘Reservoir Dogs’ made in 1992. Almost immediately, one of Tarantino’s symbolic features is used, we see someone torturing someone else whilst making jokes, i.e. making violence seem funny, and dancing along to ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ thus using seventies music and dark humor. Reservoir Dogs, being the first of Tarantino’s films, meant it is slightly different to lots of his other films, some aspects of it, although similar to his auteur styles in later films, are not quite so prominent, this could be because as a director starting out, he had to see how the audience would react to things such as his use of dark humor. If they liked this he could develop it further in later films, as we see he goes on to do.
Another thing which is done in Reservoir Dogs, is Tarantino giving characters ‘mysterious’ names, the characters are known by their surname for example ‘Mr. White’. Tarantino’s use of 1970’s music is seen in all of his films, this aspect of his films tends to agree with the definition of him being an auteur. In Jackie Brown (1998) the beginning credits and sequence is accompanied by music from the 1970’s. Pulp Fiction (1994) also has a large amount of music from the 1970’s, throughout the whole film. Essentially the only music that is heard in all of Tarantino’s films is from the 1970’s. By doing this, Tarantino is making it easier for the audience to recognise that these films are in fact his.
It is not just the music that Tarantino uses to make references to the 1970’s. He, in fact, makes many references to the 1970’s in his films, for example in Kill Bill (2002) the film starts with ‘Our Feature Presentation’ written on screen, which was often used on films in cinemas in the 1970’s. Another example of reference to the 1970’s is in Kill Bill 2 (2004) Tarantino puts in a character called Pie May which is a direct reference to the martial arts character of 1970’s films. Tarantino’s vast amount of 1970’s references, are used because they represent Tarantino’s views and personal likes as he grew up in the 1970’s and identifies largely with things from this era.
Something else which we see in most of not all of Tarantino’s films is the use of feet. Tarantino himself had a ‘thing’ for feet and so portrayed this in his films. For example in Jackie Brown in the sequence where we are introduced to Bridget Fonda’s character, Melanie, we see her feet first and often when she is talking the camera is focused largely on her feet. Also in Pulp Fiction, there is conversation about feet, as the two main characters, Vince and Jules are walking into the building at the beginning they talk about foot massages.
Tarantino often works with the same characters in his films, for example Samuel L Jackson appears in Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill 2. Also Uma Thurman appears in Pulp Fiction and both of the Kill Bill films. Tarantino’s films often involve long periods of dialogue which have no relevance to the film, but are used as to bring humor to the violence of his films. An example of this would be in Pulp Fiction, in the beginning Jules and Vince are in the car on their way to shoot someone, but are having a normal conversation about burgers.
Tarantino also likes to play with graphics on screen, he often , uses captions on screen to show what is happening, or show the time it is when something happens, this happens in all of his films. Another thing that is done by Tarantino is his invention of products, instead of using existing products and therefore using product placement, Tarantino likes to invent his own products to use, for example he invents the cereal we see in Kill Bill and the coffee we see in Pulp Fiction.
One other thing that Tarantino often includes in his films, as that we see the same sequence but from a different perspective. This happens in Jackie Brown, when we see the women leaving the money in the changing room of a shop and it being picked up by someone else, twice but the perspective of two different people so are seeing two sides to the same story. Tarantino’s films are very different to the films of other directors in the way the narrative is structured, the types of storyline, the characters and the references in them. For this reason it is quite clear that Tarantino is a true auteur.
Martin Scorsese is also considered an auteur, his films are all linked in some way or other and all have his signature over them. One film critic said of Scorsese “Marty’s such an auteur; every frame of ‘Raging Bull’ has his stamp on it.” This is also said to be true of all of his films. Martin Scorsese is hugely interested in the three themes of violence, religion and redemption; this can be seen in his films. The basic story line for each of the films is based around these themes. Taxi driver (1976) is the story of a Manhattan Taxi driver, and his slow fall into insanity through a path of religion and violence. Travis is an insomniac living in New York; as a result of his insomnia he takes a job as night Taxi driver.