An Account of Quentin Tarantino’s Movie, Reservoir Dogs Essay

Tell me about the title of this film. Why is it appropriate?

Although I am pretty good at identifying symbolic titles and how they relate to the film, I found this to be really difficult with this particular film. As far as I know there was no direct or indirect reference to the title in the film and my interpretation is based solely on the wording itself, “Reservoir Dogs”. The title itself has a very specific mood or feel, it almost sounds dingy, lowlife, and violent.

For example, when someone says, “he’s a dog” , it’s generally not a positive statement and it can be a general description of any of the characters in the film. In regard to the “reservoir” half of the title, there is ambiguity for me. Perhaps the dogs are guarding a reservoir of something important or perhaps they are from a low place such as the reservoir. Maybe the “dogs” hang around the reservoir because they have no better, higher place to go to.

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Regardless of the meaning that can be placed on the title, it does give a very distinct mood and feel and matches well with the dirtiness that occurs in the film, making it appropriate for the film.

How does the music influence the viewer in particular scenes?

The music definitely has an influence on viewers throughout the film. The film begins with all the men talking about the local radio station that plays ’70s music and they discuss their interpretations of certain songs. This discussion really draws the viewers in because it makes them feel like they are there at the table with the men because the viewers are also familiar with the songs/pop culture elements that are discussed. Music also adds to the film in the form of the radio station when the DJ is heard speaking during black screens or when characters have the radio turned on. It is also interesting that the characters listen to the same radio station throughout the film because this provides a sense of community – every character listens to the same radio station, something that residents of any community can have in common with one another. Perhaps the scene where music has the greatest impact is in the warehouse where Mr. Blonde turns on the radio station and the song, “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel comes on the radio. This is particularly interesting for a few reasons, the first being that Mr. Blonde is in fact stuck in the middle between a dying man and a man that he is about to kill. The other interesting element is that the song is so light-hearted and whimsical that Mr. Blonde even starts dancing and singing along. The fact that he dances and sings along while he violently and sadistically cuts off the police officer’s ear adds so much stylistically to the film and is my personally favorite scene.

Are the graphic violence and language too much? How do they “fit” the film?

Personally, I do not think that the graphic violence and language are too much and I think that they fit the film very well. The blood, shooting, and other violent aspects of the film are definitely difficult to stomach but they are done for stylistic film reasons and not simply a random addition of violence. The pools of blood that drench characters (especially Mr. Orange) are difficult for viewers to see because we are not used to being exposed to that amount of direct gore and violence, given that it is not ideal in Hollywood. My favorite scene features a very interesting array of violence. The police officer is taped to a chair in the warehouse and beaten raw, which is shocking in itself. But the hard part is when Mr. Blonde cuts off the officer’s ear with a shaving razor. During this particular part the camera actually moves away from the action, which adds to the eerie, dramatic feel but the violence is not at all taken away in that the viewer gets to see Mr. Blonde holding (and joking with) the cut off ear and we even get to see the part of the man’s head where the ear used to be, an incredibly gore filled vision. But all of this violence is important because it shows the actual occurrences that take place during shootouts and deaths. During a real gun death the participants do not just hear a “boom” and are taken away in an ambulance, as is commonly depicted in Hollywood style. Rather, there is lots of blood and the last breath of life escaping the victim(s) and it is incredibly powerful the Tarantino lets us see this in this film, especially because it is practically centered around this violence.

Describe the primary setting of the film and its impact/limitations on the story

The primary setting of the film is when all of the men are in the diner finishing up their meal and talking nonchalantly about pop culture, women, and tipping. At first, I figured that the scene was intended to introduce each of the characters and their personalities to the viewer, but I found that this was not the case. The men are actually introduced more in-depth later on in the film, in a clearer way so in that case, the first scene does not seem very vital. Among the positive implications of this primary setting we do get to learn that the men go by colors and there is a level of piqued audience interest in their dialogue about pop-culture and women. It is also a good opportunity to get us familiar with each of the men because two of them (Brown and Blue) die quickly and it is interesting for the audience to know who they were before they died.

Write a descriptive/critical summary of this film

The film opens up with the Mr. Blonde, Mr. Brown, Mr. Blue, Mr. White, Mr. Orange, and Mr. Pink along with Joe, the elderly ring leader and his son Eddie. Mr. Brown talks about the pop-culture elements in Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” while Joe looks in his phone book for the number and name of an Asian lady that he slept with. When Joe steps away from the table to pay, the men each contribute to the waitress’ tip except for Mr. Pink who explains that he does not tip, that is until Joe makes him.

The camera then cuts to Mr. White driving a car with Mr. Orange bleeding to death and fighting for his life in the back seat. Mr. White takes him to a rendezvous location, the warehouse where they are expecting the other men. Mr. White holds Mr. Orange untilMr. Pink shows up and the two agree that there was a setup by the police and that was why their operation failed.

The camera then goes to Mr. White and Joe in Joe’s office where they discuss life andJoe tells him about a new diamond heist that he is planning to which Mr. White agrees. The camera then cuts back to the men in the warehouse talking about Mr. Blonde and how crazy he was to kill innocent civilians after the police had showed up and the two get in a physical fight because Mr. Pink finds out that Mr. White told a Orange his real name. Mr. Blonde then calmly interrupts the fight and Mr. White actually starts arguing with him and pulls out a gun. The men stop the altercation and Mr. Blonde reveals that there is a surprise for the men in his car, a captured policeofficer.

The three men then duck-tape the officer to a chair and violently beat him raw after hecontinuously refuses to give them any information about the police informant involved in the heist. Eddie then comes in and yells at the men and then proceeds to take Mr. White and Mr. Pink with him to get the hidden diamonds and get rid of the vehicles. Mr. Blonde is left alone with the police officer and the dying Mr. Orange and he decides to torture the officer for his own personal enjoyment. He turns on the popular70’s radio station and the song “Stuck in the Middle with You” comes on to which Mr. Blonde dances and sings along. He then proceeds to take out his shaving razor and cutsoff the police officer’s ear after duck-taping his mouth shut. Mr. Blonde then goes out to his car where he grabs a can of gasoline and comes back to douse the officer with it andsprinkles a trail before lighting his lighter. At this point Mr. Blonde gets shot twice in the abdomen by who we find out to be Mr. Orange. The police officer is overwhelmedwith joy and relief and Mr. Orange reveals that he is in fact an undercover police officerand that there is a squad waiting a block away. The beaten police officer reveals that he knows him and that they met a few months ago.

The audience then gets to learn how Mr. Orange got involved in the heist and how he prepared to trick the men into thinking that he was a legitimate criminal and also how the men got their names. We get to see Mr. Brown, Mr. White, and Mr. Orange driving away from the heist where Mr. Brown dies from a bullet wound to the head. Mr. White and Mr. Orange then run into the car of a woman with a gun who shoots Mr. Orange in the stomach before he shoots her dead.

Eddie, Mr. Pink, and Mr. White then arrive back at the warehouse to find Mr. Blonde dead. Mr. Orange then explains that he had to shoot Mr. Blonde because he was planningto brutally kill the police officer and then kill the other men before taking all of the diamonds for himself. Eddie does not believe Mr. Orange’s story at all because Mr. Blonde has remained loyal to him for so long. Joe then comes in and tells everyone thatMr. Blue is dead and that the whole heist was a disaster. He figures that Mr. Orange is the snake that ruined everything and pulls out his gun. Mr. White then whole-heartedlydefends Mr. Orange and tells Joe not to shoot him, even pulling out a gun on his oldcomrade. This causes Eddie to pull a gun on Mr. White and the men stand in this shoot out position for a while before Joe shoots Mr. Orange, causing Mr. White to shootJoe, which then makes Eddie shoot Mr. White and all men end up on the ground. Since Mr. Pink was hiding, he did not get hurt and he runs away with the diamonds.

Mr. White holds Mr. Orange in his arms as both lay bloody and dying. Mr. Orange thenconfesses that he is in fact a cop and the look of unbelievable sadness and betrayal coversMr. White’s face as he puts a gun to Mr. Orange’s head. The police then invade and demand that Mr. White puts the gun down but he refuses and he shoots Mr. Orange, to which the police respond by shooting Mr. White and the screen flashes to black as the film ends.

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