Let’s start with a challenge. How many sequels, prequels and spin-offs can you spot in the film line-up for 2021? Fair warning – there are…quite a few. As someone who hasn’t religiously followed the Marvel franchise and isn’t particularly filled with delight at the prospect of a ninth Fast and Furious film, I’ve been flicking back through my old favourites (otherwise referred to as: Films by Quentin Tarantino, or Edgar Wright). In trying to interrogate why I’m not more daring with my choices, I simply found myself writing a list of just why, in fact, I’m so drawn to these two filmmaking giants.

“It’s the detail and pure stylishness to which I return unflinchingly time and again.”

It seems fitting to refer to their work more as choreography than cinematography, most obviously, through their use of soundtracks. As an avid vinyl collector (English student stereotype alert), some of my first buys were the Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Baby Driver records. Boasting the likes of Kool & the Gang, The Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to name just a few, these films just radiate that inescapable sense of the epic.

The combination of Uma Thurman and John Travolta with Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell in the infamous ‘Jack Rabbit Slim twist contest’ scene of Pulp Fiction is arguably the example of using music correctly to create something legendary. The opening sequence of Kill Bill Vol. 1 does this with equally explosive results. “Revenge is a dish best served cold″ appears on the screen as we cut to a black and white shot of a Bride: beaten, bloodied, and sobbing. We hear a man’s voice, he monologues before the Bride can spit out ‘Bill, it’s your bab-’. A gunshot, and then … Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang – My Baby Shot Me Down floats in and the credits roll. The dizzying tremolo of the opening guitar section and Sinatra’s haunting vocals jar perfectly with the violent action we have been launched into; just like that, the premise of the film is established, and in the most stylish way possible.


Wright’s most iconic opening scene has to be from Baby Driver. It’s coming up to my fifth time watching the film and roughly my fortieth time watching the opening sequence on YouTube (sue me). Like Tarantino, Wright throws us straight into the action: a red Subaru pulls up in shot, a classic iPod is pulled out and Bellbottoms starts to play. Is there any better way to establish your characters than through close ups that change to the beat of the music? With each thrash of the guitar and drums we are introduced to Baby, Griff, Buddy and Darling before we’re propelled into a robbery and the following beast of a car chase.

“Wright’s answer to this is simple; transform the mundane.”

To dissect everything I adore about this sequence would threaten the word count of my dissertation, so I’ll summarise. It’s not just that Wright’s choreography reconstructs one of the most common motifs in cinema history – the car chase – into something fresh and genuinely heart-racing, it’s that he has so much fun with it. The straight-faced establishing minute is quickly undercut by Baby, left alone in the car, performing his own concert as he sings along to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Then, when Griff stabs at the air to signal for Baby to ‘Drive!’ the moment is undercut again by him pulling away … in reverse. Wright embraces the cliché only to subvert it, and to build it into something distinctly more vibrant and original. Both directors are icons of the pastiche genre, calling back to Spaghetti Westerns and Kung Fu films of the past. While starkly different in their chosen storylines, Wright and Tarantino are united in their deft use of parody.


Without a doubt, my favourite fight scene of all time comes in Kill Bill Vol.2 when the Bride confronts the eye-patched Elle Driver – the fourth member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad on her ‘Death List Five.’ How, indeed, does Tarantino plan to follow the battle between the Bride, the Crazy 88 and O’Ren Ishii that concludes Vol. 1? He uses a good old dose of comedy. This scene is essentially a sketch, the punchline being that Elle can’t get her sword out of its sheath in the cramped trailer. The decision not to use music here is key: the focus is on the almost laughable sound effects that over-accentuate every punch, grunt and table smash that follows. Elle and the Bride have the same training – so how does Tarantino show this? Have them leap into the air and kick each other at the exact same time only to split the screen to see them hurled back, thumping to the floor in unison.


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It’s a tense scene, sure, but it makes you laugh. All of this leads to a section of dialogue, which we expect to be followed by a ‘final showdown’ of sorts. Elle rejoices in the fact that she’s going to make this kill with the Bride’s own sword - soon to become hers in the ‘immediate future.’ The Bridge snarls out ‘Bitch, you don’t have a future’: the two raise their swords, the music swells, we have extended, excruciating close ups – and what do we get? The Bride snatching out Elle’s other eye. It’s grotesque, it’s gory … but it’s brilliant. There’s something obscenely comic as the Bride drops the eyeball to the floor, crushes it with her foot, and walks away. Onto the next victim.

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Where Tarantino is known for his use of violence, Wright is known for mastering the use of close ups in his spoofs of the action film’s favourite sequence: arming up. Wright’s answer to this is simple; transform the mundane. Think Sergeant Angel in Hot Fuzz doing his police paperwork, think Gary and his mates on the ‘Golden Mile’ pub crawl in The World’s End … it’s all Wright’s trademark way to establish a somewhat boring scenario in an engaging and hilarious way, all while manipulating the motif to perfection.

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Of course, this only serves to make the actual ‘arming up’ scene, which inevitably comes later in the film, that touch more majestic. Sergeant Angel clearing out the armoury, rolling into the village with sunglasses, astride a white horse, to Western-style backing music is fabulously tongue-in-cheek, especially when juxtaposed with the gun-wielding pensioners he’s about to face off.

Wright and Tarantino have an exceptional level of attention to detail in their screenwriting and directing; every single shot, movement and line has a unique purpose. They blend together a kaleidoscopic use of technical, musical and physical elements to create something immense. I’ve watched my favourites countless times, and I’m still adding to the list of clever additions, Easter eggs, or decisions that I notice. It’s the detail and pure stylishness to which I return unflinchingly time and again.