They aren't easy to pick out, but if you look hard enough you can spot Tarantino's 'scratch beneath the surface' world. Has the creative director set his films in a separate, parallel realm, or is it just one big coincidence?
When it comes to the weird and wonderful world of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, a theory has developed over the years that speculates just that……..that collectively they represent a separate, parallel world to our own. A world where the characters from Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, True Romance and even Death Proof all intertwine.
In this ‘Tarantino world’, people are obsessed with pop-culture, eat Big Kahuna burgers and smoke Red Apple cigarettes. However, rather than being a separate world, it’s seems that this ‘Tarantino Universe’ is more of an alternate reality; all stemming from Quentin’s alternative ending to World War Two in Inglorious Basterds.
Before I get too far into this I should just point out that this is not my own theory, I’m certainly not clever enough for that. Merely a culmination of many a misspent hour reading various theories and articles.
Ok, so given that Tarantino has talked openly in the past about possibly giving them their own prequel movie, many will already be aware that Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Reservoir Dog’s Mr Blonde, Vic Vega (Michael Madsen), are in fact brothers in this alternate reality. According to many hawk-eyed theorists however, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In Reservoir Dogs, Harvey Keitel’s Mr White discusses doing ‘jobs’ with an Alabama; the very same Alabama who finds the love of her life, Clarence, in True Romance.
And it’s the Tarantino written True Romance, which holds the key to this alternate universe. As Alabama & Clarence attempt to unload a mountain of stolen cocaine, they turn to the big shot movie producer Lee Donowitz. Lee Donowitz, son of Donny Donowitz, otherwise known as The Bear Jew (Eli Roth) from Inglorious Basterds. In a fitting evolution, the son of the man who helped end WW2 by gunning down Adolf Hitler in a cinema has gone on to be a movie maker himself, aptly producing movies about war (Coming Home in a Body Bag).
So, as it becomes clearer that all these characters are intertwined; it also becomes clear that they live in a world where WW2 did not end with an under siege Hitler dying in a Berlin bunker. They live in a world where Hitler was machine-gunned to death in a Parisian cinema-come-incinerator. Due to this monumental change in modern history, a softening in people’s attitudes toward ultra-violence has also occurred, and, a shift in the way people view popular culture has also transpired.
Since 1944 the characters of this world have been brought up in the knowledge that the entire Nazi hierarchy was taken out in one act of extreme violence, and has in turn, slightly desensitised the way they view violence. Mr Blonde casually carving the ear off a police officer in Reservoir Dogs, and Jules & Vincent’s reasonably casual reaction to blowing off Marvin’s face in Pulp Fiction are classic examples.
The fact that the most significant moment in modern history now took place in a movie theatre also provides an explanation as to why everyone is so obsessed with popular culture and movies. The movie theatre itself has become one of the most significant locations in modern history and has become the basis for a far greater importance being bestowed upon the world of movies, music and comic books.
So far so good, all seems to fit into place nicely, but what about Kill Bill and Jackie Brown I hear you ask? Where do they fit in to this universe?
Well, Kill Bill, along with From Dusk Till Dawn are slightly different, both are set in second a world behind this alternate reality, they’re effectively Tarantino movies within movies. In other words, they are films that Clarence & Alabama would watch at the cinema in their world. This concept makes more sense when you consider Mia Wallace’s conversation with Vincent Vega at the Jack Rabbit Slims restaurant in Pulp Fiction. When you think about it, Mia’s failed TV pilot, ‘Fox Force Five’ sounds suspiciously like Bill’s team of assassins from Kill Bill. (While we’re on the subject of Jack Rabbit Slims; Steve Buscemi, the man who refuses to tip in Reservoir Dogs, ironically turns up as a waiter, nice little touch).
As far as Jackie Brown goes, while containing all the classic trademarks of a Tarantino movie, sharp dialogue, eclectic soundtrack, etc.; it’s an adaption of an Elmore Leonard novel and as such isn’t part of this alternate world.
So, this is where we are up to so far, which brings us back nicely to Django Unchained. Given that it’s apparently set in Texas in 1858, any potential links to the mostly modern day, alternate reality, will be tricky for Quentin. Who knows though, maybe Django turns out to be Marsellus Wallace’s great great Granddad, or maybe the plantation produces tobacco for the Red Apple cigarette company.
However discreet or obvious any links may be, I’m confident that given Tarantino has seemingly spent his whole career painstakingly putting together this ‘scratch beneath the surface world’, then I’m sure there will be a link or two in there somewhere; this time round however, given the setting, it might just take a few extra views to spot them.