Tarantino Looks Up, Wes Anderson Looks Down

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 28 2012 1:17 PM

One Difference Between Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino

tarantino4
A still of Brad Pitt and B.J. Novak in Inglourious Basterds.

When the trailer for Wes Anderson’s latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom, arrived, it sparked a debate in the Slate office about whether Anderson needed to “grow up.” Some were of the mind that his work was in a state of arrested development; others (possibly just this writer) argued that the childlike quality of his movies reflected the mood of his times.

This prompted a comparison with Tarantino, another filmmaker sometimes accused (though no more rightly, if you ask me) of lacking maturity. Both Tarantino and Anderson allude overtly and often to the work of previous filmmakers, though their sources differ (Anderson leaning more on the French New Wave and Hal Ashby, among others; Tarantino borrowing from B-movie sources that don’t seem to interest Anderson). Both have arguably become more stylistically mannered as their careers have progressed.

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But those styles convey very different views of the world, of course—a point eloquently made by this video, “Quentin Tarantino from Below.” It’s a companion piece of sorts to “Wes Anderson from Above,” which we posted here earlier this month. (Both were made by the YouTube and Vimeo whiz kogonada, also responsible for a great compilation of POV shots from Breaking Bad.) While Anderson frequently uses overhead shots, Tarantino is fond of shots that look up at characters. Anderson’s overhead shots illustrate his delight in order, in arrangement; Tarantino’s shots “from below” generally convey menace, as a typically frightening character or group of characters look down at someone in danger.

Tarantino is less fussy as a stylist than Anderson, and so this video does not have quite the precision of its Andersonian counterpart. But it still makes a persuasive case for the shot “from below” as a key feature of Tarantino’s visual style, on that helps illuminate the world according to Quentin. (Via The Daily What.)

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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