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“Reservoir Dogs” is a crime film released in 1992 written and directed by Quentin Tarintino. The film depicts six gangsters that use color-based aliases who plan to rob a jewelry store for diamonds. The film is very violent in nature and has many examples of hyper-real violence and disregard for human life. The film also depicts ritualistic violence, symbolic violence, racist language, homophobia, misogyny, and displays of masculinity as an important trait.
One pattern that immediately emerges in “Reservoir Dogs” is the disregard for human life. The gangsters in the film repeatedly hurt and kill innocent people with no remorse. At one point in the film, the gangsters tie up a cop they kidnapped and brutally beat him to learn how the police knew the heist was going to happen.
Later in the film, Mr. Blonde dances around the room while “Stuck in the Middle With You” plays on a radio. The upbeat song is a stark contrast to the sickening torture that Mr. Blonde subjects the cop to. He slices off the cop’s ear with a razor blade, smiling while doing so, covers him in gasoline, intending to set him on fire, before he is shot by Mr. Orange. Mr. Blonde shows no remorse whatsoever while torturing the cop, and he actually seems to enjoy it.
The jewelry store heist is shown during Mr. Orange’s backstory flashback. Mr. White and Mr. Brown are seen in the getaway car and police cars approach them. Mr. White fires two high-powered pistols into the police car, instantly killing the officers. Mr. White does not show any remorse and he immediately moves on.
After Mr. Blonde is killed, Eddie, the mob boss’s son, shows up to the warehouse where Mr. Orange and the tied up cop are. Mr. Orange tells Eddie that Mr. Blonde was going to set the cop on fire. Eddie replies, “Oh, that cop?” and shoots him in the chest, killing him. Eddie does not even consider his decision and murders the cop.
There was also a theme of racist language in “Reservoir Dogs.” In one scene, Mr. Blonde and Mr. White are having an argument in the warehouse. Mr. Pink tells them to stop acting like “arguing niggers.” In a later scene, four of the gangsters are in a car. They are talking about black women and make gratuitous use of the n-word during the scene.
A pattern of masculinity, misogyny, and homophobia is also present. In the opening scene, Mr. Pink refuses to tip by default and a fellow gangster asks him if the waitress has to perform sexual acts on him to receive a tip. Later in the film, Mr. Pink is told by Joe, the mob boss, that his chosen alias was Mr. Pink because he is “a faggot.” All of these prejudiced behaviors are presented unabashedly and usually with a hint of humor.
I feel the themes presented in “Reservoir Dogs” convey a sense of a scary world. In a world like the one in “Reservoir Dogs,” violent gangsters constantly kill people with no remorse, in an almost casual fashion. They also speak negatively of groups that aren’t straight, white men. They repeatedly belittle women, use racist terms, and kill anyone that might stand in their way.
I think this film says that violence is power, but that it also may be your downfall. In the end, Mr. Pink hides under the stairs during the final shootout and is the only gangster that survives. He was picked on by Joe during the film and was never really an alpha of the group. After the Mexican standoff in the warehouse, Mr. Pink is able to take the diamonds and leave. The masculine ego of Mr. White gets him killed in the standoff with Joe and Eddie. Mr. Pink understood that the prize was more important than pride.
I think that “Reservoir Dogs” tells a fantastic and engaging story, however, it does present very violent and disturbing situations. The scene where the police officer is brutally tortured by Mr. Blonde is one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever seen in a film. I think the way Quentin Tarintino uses violence in film could be called an artistic medium, but it could still be problematic. Showing innocent people being brutally slaughtered has the potential to desensitize people to violence that happens in the real world.
I don’t know if you could classify a film like “Reservoir Dogs” as good, bad, or mediocre. Violence is a central and essential part of the film, and if you do not enjoy films that use violence as a story-telling mechanism, it will not be the film for you. While the gangsters do not show direct remorse for their actions, the film does show the consequences. All the gangsters except one are dead by the end of the film, which they may have deserved after everything they had done. I think that “Reservoir Dogs” is not a film for children, and that it is a well-made film with an engaging story, but it should only be viewed by those mature enough to handle such violent media.
I think we should educate people about what the implications of films such as “Reservoir Dogs” are. It is a very violent film, and because of that, it should only be viewed by mature people. Quentin Tarintino tells complicated, violent, and sexual stories. I think that portraying hyper-real violence in films can be an issue if parents allow young and impressionable children to view such films, but hyper-real violence can be an engaging storytelling tool for mature audiences.
Overall, “Reservoir Dogs” is a film for people that enjoy violent crime movies. The film uses racist and misogynistic dialogue to appear edgy, and the generous amount of violence and killing serves as a substitute for a deeper plot and expanded character development. We are generally not told a great deal about the gangsters, and we are told to enjoy their story of hyper-real violence, betrayal and regret.
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