Happy birthday, Quentin Tarantino: Decoding ace filmmaker's shared movie universe
Whether it is the 20-minute-long opening sequence of Inglourious Basterds or a simple Bible verse spoken by Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's CV is littered with iconic scenes. Over the years, Tarantino has cast a spell by rewriting the cinema rulebooks with his unique narrative devices. On his 60th birthday, we look at the connections between all his movies.
But first, understand Tarantino's shared movie universe
All of his movies are tied to a shared universe, which is sometimes referred to as the Tarantinoverse or the Quentinverse. Although it is easy to spot parallels—Red Apple Cigarettes or the Big Kahuna Burger fast food chain—the shared universe actually runs much deeper, which sometimes goes unnoticed. His filmography can be split into two groups, the main movie universe and the movies-within-movies universe.
What is the main movie universe?
"There's the realer than real universe...all the characters inhabit that one," Tarantino once said, explaining the main movie universe. It is basically the universe in which real-life characters collide with fictional characters. The movies in the main universe include Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012), The Hateful Eight (2015), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).
What is movies-in-movies universe?
This essentially operates a lot like the real world, but there are fictional movies within the main movie universe. For a better understanding, Tarantino once described—"when the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction...go to the movies, Kill Bill is what they go to see." The movies in this universe include From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Kill Bill movies, and Death Proof (2007).
Connection #1: A nurse named Bonnie
Consider this—in Reservoir Dogs, in the beginning, Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is shot and needs immediate medical attention, but for obvious reasons, he cannot go to the hospital. He relies on Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) to find a doctor for treatment, who mentions a nurse named "Bonnie" who might help. In Pulp Fiction, Jimmy—played by Tarantino—mentions his wife, Bonnie, who is a nurse.
Connection #2: Big Kahuna Burger
If you're a fan, you probably remember Jackson's iconic monologue in Pulp Fiction, which features a Big Kahuna Burger. The fictional burger brand is not only introduced in this scene but also made an entry in other movies as well. Whether at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs or in From Dusk Till Dawn, one cannot help but notice these burgers' connections in Tarantino's movies.
Connection #3: Pack of Red Apple cigarettes
Tarantino's films feature a lot of fake brands because of his abject hatred for product placement. Besides inventing a fake burger brand, his characters smoke a fictional brand of cigarettes called Red Apple Cigarettes, which, when you notice, is shown repeatedly. Some notable appearances of this brand include in the films Kill Bill Vol. 1 and in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, too.
Will 'The Movie Critic' tie shared universe together?
Tarantino's upcoming 10th and last film, The Movie Critic, is based on critic Pauline Kael. Therefore, some theories suggest the renowned critic could be seen reviewing one of Tarantino's films in the movies-within-movies universe. Apart from this, the film is based on a real-life person that fits into the main movie universe. Therefore, Tarantino's last feature film would perfectly tie the whole shared universe.