In 1992, Quentin Tarrentino exploded onto the independent cinema scene with his violent and ferocious debut film Reservoir Dogs which featured an ensemble cast including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen & Tarrentino himself.
This film showed the beginnings of Tarrentino’s bold and unique film-making style that was further developed in later films such as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. He was unafraid of using on-screen violence as a tool to shock and thrill audiences. He also created believable and relatable characters through the use of everyday conversation and pop culture references of the time; you could almost imagine these violent criminals were someone you might know.
But one aspect that really sets this film aside is the use of music. Many directors prefer to score their films or have specially written music but Tarrentino (in his early work at least) advocates for using existing music from around the time-period. For this film, it’s as if he took a 70’s Jukebox and picked songs that perfectly complement both the scene & setting with songs such as ‘Little Green Bag’ (George Baker Selection) and ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ (Blue Swede) in complete contrast to the dark events of the film as it unfolds.
Music is introduced through the fictional radio station ‘K Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s‘; that characters tune into at various points in the film. My favourite example of this is the infamous ‘ear-cutting’ scene in which Mr Blonde (Madsen) tortures cop Nash (Kirk Baltz); all set to Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Stuck In the Middle With You’ playing on the radio.
This ironically upbeat song somehow takes away from the violence we see on screen and yet complements the action perfectly.
I’m not a particularly big fan of 70’s music but I really enjoyed the selection here and the music in the film is almost a character in it’s own right; marking key points in the story.