Slow-motion is used pretty sparingly in movies these days. If it’s a movie steeped in realism, or about tiny moments, or a particularly talky movie, slow-motion doesn’t really fit. Conversely, some directors—particularly of action movies—might overuse the slo-mo, or even use speed-ramping, to an excess that maybe makes a moment look cool but strung together can make your movie super long without much narrative reason for it.
But there’s a sweet spot where slow-motion is perfectly timed and ably judged. It’s a hard thing to get right, but as editor Jacob T. Swinney shows in a new video, Quentin Tarantino uses it a lot, but it almost always makes the movie better.
BE WARNED! This video contains lots of graphic violence found in QT’s films and might be NSFW.
It’s interesting to see from the video just how much slow-motion he uses in some movies, while using none in others. There’s not a single clip from Jackie Brown in here, and only a couple from Pulp Fiction; both of these were movies that are considered two of his more “realistic” works. By contrast, as Tarantino’s work began to delve more into the Spaghetti Western realm, the slow-motion became much more evident. Inglourious Basterds, a Spaghetti Western in every sense except for setting and time period, has its fair share of slo-mo, and Django Unchained almost never stops using it.
Tarantino uses slow-motion for a number of reasons. Most often, it’s to accentuate violence, either during a shootout or the Crazy 88s sword fight in Kill Bill vol. 1. In this way, he’s very much emulating Sam Peckinpah and his ilk. He might also use it to enhance the tragedy of a character’s death or build the tension prior to the moment of violence, which is very Sergio Leone. And a lot of times it’s just because it looks damn cool. Is there truly anything cooler than the slow-motion walk from the beginning of Tarantino’s debut feature, Reservoir Dogs?
And perhaps my favorite use of it in the video is the one you probably all laughed at in the theater: when Major Marquis Warren delivers dialogue to Sheriff Chris Mannix in The Hateful Eight. Mannix is in regular speed, but Warren isn’t, signifying that time is slowing down for him as he fears for the “diabolical” deal that might soon take place.
What are some of your favorite Tarantino slow-motion moments? Let us know in the comments below!
HT: Laughing Squid
Image: The Weinstein Company
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!