IRE: Not Religious, but Full of Religion

“Movies are my religion and God is my patron. I’m lucky enough to be in the position where I don’t make movies to pay for my pool. When I make a movie, I want it to be everything to me; like I would die for it.” -Quentin Tarantino

On the first day of English class, my professor asked if we had gotten the books we needed for the semester. Everyone blankly stared back at him. He then said that it was okay because we are not going to need any, but we will need Netflix. Talk about music to my ears. I am sure I can speak on behalf of the entire class when I say that all of our hearts were warmed by this concept of no reading. Reading novels is not one of my favorite hobbies, however, movies are not necessarily my strong suit either. Believe it or not, I have a hard time paying attention to movies unless I am watching it in the theater or I am very intrigued. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy watching movies, but there are few movies that I could watch and analyze deeper than what is shown on the screen. My friends never consider my opinion when deciding what movie to watch together because they say that I will not pay attention anyway. One would only watch the show, Friends, with me because he claimed that I was too distracting for him to follow a more complicated show. As a result of my lack of interest in most movies, some of the films we watched in class were hard for me to follow. I read plot summaries on all of them after watching them in class, and I watched most of them on my own time to try to obtain a better understanding of what people were talking about in class. However, after I would give a film my undivided attention, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Tarantino included so many small details to make his movies more affective.

When I told my mom that my English class was focused on Quentin Tarantino films, she first asked, “Who is that?” I explained all that I knew about him, “You know that sort of weird guy who directed Pulp Fiction, Django, and movies like that.” She knew whom I was referring to then, and she crinkled her nose, “those are some crude and gory movies.” My mom is about as conservative as it gets and is a devoted Christian. Her disapproval of Tarantino’s films comes from what the main content of all of them seem to be: sin. His films are filled with dishonesty, extreme violence, vulgar language, sexual immoralities, and even psychopaths. However, in the midst of all of the reoccurring dark themes, there are several Biblical references. In specifically Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino shows that his characters have respectable traits even though they can be cruel. He uses the darkness to really illuminate the good in the characters. This theme is what really ties my two essays together.

The constant parallels between his films and the Bible in no way indicated that Quentin Tarantino was a Christian. In an interview with Howard Stern and Robin Quivers in 2009, Tarantino claims that he is not a religious man, but he also says that his writing ability is “a God-given talent, even though [he doesn’t] really believe in God.” His knowledge about Bible stories and the transformation of a person to become a Christian is not lacking. Pulp Fiction shows several examples, which is the focus of my first essay. The devil and evil practices are seen throughout the film through words, killings, and even props (the suitcase). When I first watched the film and noticed these dark things, it made the light things stand out more. I saw how forgiveness, mercy, and grace were demonstrated by lead roles in the midst of brutality during the film, and I knew I wanted to analyze that further. One character underwent a parallel process of accepting Jesus and living a new life.

My second essay revolved around Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs. I found his character the most interesting because he said so little, yet had the largest impact in the film. Tarantino uses this psychotic character and one of the most horrific scenes in all of his productions to parallel to Simon Peter from the Bible. Mr. Blonde is a psychopath who plans to torture a cop for pleasure, and he cuts off the ear of the cop, which is why he is similar to Simon Peter. However, earlier in the film Mr. Blonde is portrayed as a loyal worker because he did not rat out his team on a former heist. All of Tarantino’s characters are given good qualities and bad qualities; it just so happens that most of the bad qualities are very extreme.

When I watched the films on my own time with no distractions, I really enjoyed them and found a great interest in the Biblical references. There is so much going on in most of them that just five minutes of not listening could lead to a big misunderstanding. Contrary to my mother’s belief, Tarantino’s films are not only consisting of gory, gruesome themes. He may not be a religious man, but religion is not lacking in his films. Below the surface of the shootouts, cuss words, and blood, his films are filled with religious themes. Mixed in with all of the evil, there is plenty of good in his films when analyzed deeper which allowed me to compare two very different films and characters.