British film journalist Ian Nathan whisks readers across vast Quentin Tarantino territory with this “unofficial and unauthorized” account of the filmmaker and his iconic works. With images accompanying all 171 pages of text, the book is heavy on visuals, including a coffee table-worthy Kill Bill-style cover, while staying concise in its storytelling to maintain an easy-to-follow flow. The opening chapter covers his upbringing and early influences, including his near-mythical days at Video Archives, while subsequent chapters tackle one film at a time providing the context, background and significance they played in Tarantino’s work.
It’s safe to say the filmmaker’s life and legacy are deeper than the Mariana Trench, so Quentin Tarantino is, in a nutshell, a Cliff’s Notes version of what could easily be a 2,000-page book. Generally speaking, it sticks to the main road providing complementary material that empowers the general film fan to better appreciate and understand his complex creations. The coverage includes the pertinent history of the films themselves, but it also provides a cultural context by diving into the cinematic influences that come through in the music, storylines, dialogue and aesthetics.
The book does not, however, take many detours down the sideroads that hardcore fans and film students might’ve liked. While the selective nature of the book will appeal to casual readers and weaker-armed librarians, it lacks the depth sought by diehards who regularly debate the Tarantino universe, from the 4:20 p.m. clock in Pulp Fiction to the discarded Vega Brothers project. Overall, it largely stuck to the script, if you will, seeming to rely on the collective pool of reporting, steering clear of rumors and producing an “unauthorized” work that Tarantino would likely appreciate. This is likely what most readers want, and the abundant visuals will help better connect them to the filmmaker in a more personal way.
If there is any criticism, it might be a few moments that were either unclear or misunderstood. For example, the book says Tarantino was offered $30,000 for his True Romance script (page 27) yet earned $40,000 (page 47), which the Independent and Telegraph both cite as $50,000. Likewise, the book’s introduction says “his eighth and latest, The Hateful Eight (2015), stands among his best,” even as the final pages dive into his ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Minor issues (or misreadings on my part) aside, the book does a fine job of summarizing Tarantino’s personal and cinematic history.
Quentin Tarantino: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work (White Lion Publishing) is available here and at bookstores for $35.