Even when pressed for time, Quentin Tarantino can still give a good response to a meaningful question.
Toward the end of the San Diego Comic-Con panel for “The Hateful Eight” this past July, Tarantino was asked by one fan what his favourite thing was that he’s ever written in a movie.
“That’s actually such a good question I don’t even know if I have an answer for it, especially with this pressed-for-time bulls—,” the director of this week’s “The Hateful Eight” told the crowd.
Still, he revealed that his favourite scene from his filmography is the opening of “Inglourious Basterds.”
“My favourite thing I think I’ve ever written is the scene at the French farmhouse at the beginning of ‘Inglourious Basterds,'” Tarantino said.
The scene Tarantino refers to is the very first one of his brutal World War II epic. In the scene, SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) arrives at a remote dairy farm in France that is suspected of hiding Jewish people. Landa sits down with the farmer (Denis Menochet) and questions him about the whereabouts of the Dreyfus family.
The scene is a tense and sneaky psychological mind game in which a Nazi plays detective.
The unique part about this entire scene is that it clocks in at around 20 minutes long.
Most movie scenes are about a third of that length and typically aren’t as dialogue-heavy. As with most Tarantino scripts, he avoids exposition and instead loves to trail off into incredibly long, windy, tangent-filled conversations.
Take this four-and-a-half minute stretch of the opening, where Landa stops interrogating and instead talks about why he enjoys being called “The Jew Hunter”:
Tarantino wouldn’t reveal exactly why this was his favourite scene that he has written, but it seems like almost everything he had written up to this point was building up to this conversational scene. Tarantino loves writing for bad guys, but he has never had to make somebody this evil become as terrifyingly charming.
And Tarantino was working on this script for about 10 years. During that time, it changed drastically. Many of the action scenes he had planned would eventually be used in “Kill Bill.”
But before he wrote this scene and filmed it, he thought there was another scene from very early in his career that he could never top.
“Before that it was, in my very first script, ‘True Romance,’ it was the whole Sicilian speech. That was the one to beat.” Tarantino said. “And then when I finally wrote that scene in ‘Inglorious Basterds,’ I was like, ‘Oh, I think I finally beat that one!'”
“True Romance” was released in 1993, one year after Tarantino’s directorial debut, “Reservoir Dogs,” and one year before “Pulp Fiction” would make him the hottest filmmaker in Hollywood.
“True Romance” was actually not directed by Tarantino, but rather by the late Tony Scott. And yet, Tarantino’s brilliant writing still made it on the screen completely intact. This was back during a time when he had far less clout than he does today.
This scene clocks in at 10 minutes long. Like the “Basterds” scene, that’s much longer than the typical film scene, especially one that doesn’t exactly move the plot forward.
There is a big gap between “True Romance” and “Inglourious Basterds,” the latter of which came out in 2009. Between those two films, Tarantino won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Pulp Fiction.” (He would win again later for “Django Unchained.”)
Based on what we saw in “The Hateful Eight,” including a memorable monologue from Samuel L. Jackson that is too profane to write out here, it looks like Tarantino has something new to boast about.
“The Hateful Eight” is out in theatres on December 25. It expands nationwide on December 31.
The “True Romance” speech starts at around five minutes into the clip below. (Warning: This scene is very NSFW.)
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