Academic journal article Post Script

Two of a Kind-Robert Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's Culturally Intertextual Comment on Film History: The Grindhouse Project

Academic journal article Post Script

Two of a Kind-Robert Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's Culturally Intertextual Comment on Film History: The Grindhouse Project

Article excerpt


Glorified and criticized, enjoyed and hated--not many filmmakers evoke such strong and opposing reactions as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. In an essay about Tarantino, Jane Mills aptly describes the type of moviemaking Tarantino personifies and which, also neatly captures Robert Rodriguez's work and reception, as follows:

   This new cinema spreads itself between
   the mainstream and independent cinemas
   and displays absolutely no tension
   between commerce and art. It's a
   cinema that is vehemently enjoyed or
   vehemently hated (it scarcely matters
   which--but the vehemence is essential)
   by cinephiles, critics, scholars, teachers,
   journalists, curators, preservationists,
   intellectuals, and mass audiences. This
   is a rare bequest.

Rodriguez's and Tarantino's huge and fast success had soon made them idols for many young filmmakers while their track record in the past twenty years, as well as the critical discussion of their movies in the media, and more and more in academia as well, has proven their popularity in and impact on the American culture. Their own biographies have been mythologized from the very beginning. Tarantino's wondrous career "from an unemployed actor-writer working in a video store to the hottest American filmmaker" (Levy 16) became famous. For Rodriguez it was the legendary progression from the "young movie-struck director tak[ing] $7,000, earned as a medical research subject, and mak[ing] a picture he thinks might sell in the Spanish-language video" (18) to the talented and promising newcomer starting a career via a major release of this very film by Columbia (cf. ibid) which would be remembered. Due to their similarly celebrated origin stories, which are strongly reminiscent of the from-rags-to-riches American Dream tales, as well as their similar film philosophy and style, combined with the fact that they gained popularity in the same year, it is unsurprising that both filmmakers eventually met, became friends, and started working together. In the New York Times event "Collaborators and Over-the-Top Filmmaking" from March 30th 2007, (1) Tom Kulaga introduces both filmmakers by saying,

We're delighted to have such innovative and popular filmmakers with us tonight. As soon as we announced it, this Times Talks event immediately sold out. And no wonder. To paraphrase our moderator's profile of one of our guests, they are "walking talking proof that you can violate the rules and flourish in Hollywood." (Hirschberg)

Kulaga's introduction points out their uncommon way of filmmaking as well as their rock star-like popularity, which allows them to disobey Hollywood's rules while still being successful. The German director, author, and critic Jorg Buttgereit, acknowledges Rodriguez by writing that "[e]r ist Tarantinos Nemesis. Der letzte wahre B-Filmer. Ein Trashvirtuose. Ein Produzent des Grauens" (2) (24). Hence, while Buttgereit's article actually is about Rodriguez, he directly connects the two filmmakers at the beginning of his article as if it were natural for the two of them to be named together. Indeed, they appear to be two of a kind. Their first collaboration, From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), is a road movie in which two brothers, having just escaped from prison, take hostages on the way to Mexico where the movie turns into a vampire horror flick. For this movie Tarantino wrote the script, as well as he played one of the Gecko brothers, while Rodriguez directed. In surveying interviews and the DVD commentaries it becomes clear that both filmmakers worked closely together, resulting in a movie with which both were satisfied, or rather enthused. Thus, even in their first collaboration their work exceeded a simple director-actor relationship and was one of the reasons their following project could have come to fruition--the epitome of their cooperation until now: Grindhouse. (3)


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