April Essay

In what ways is Death Proof Post-Modern?

There are many different ways in which Quentin Tarantino makes his film ‘Death Proof’ postmodern, one being the use of his signature shot, the ‘Trunk Shot’. Tarantino does this in many of his other films such as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.  The use of this creates a postmodern feel because it gives him his own identity, and something that people relate back to him an relate to his other film and works. It makes his films more ‘personal’ to his own conventions etc. Something else that Tarantino does that makes his films unique is using other people’s ideas (such as shot types, props, music etc) and makes them his own. A clear example of this in Death Proof is the Dodge Challenger from vanishing point. The car itself not only used in Death Proof, but it also directly quoted in the film: “It is the exact same car from Vanishing point!” There are many other different things that Tarantino has used in his own films that directly relate back to the original film it came from, simple things such as the metal duck on the front of stuntman Mike’s car is the same as the one from an old hot rod film that was shown in Grindhouse cinemas. Also, things such as the use of a girl gang can be related back to olden time films that were shown in Grindhouse cinema’s. Tarantino uses these and many more in order to create a postmodern feel to his film. The idea of the ‘last girl theory’ is almost mocked in Death proof as, towards the end of the film, the roles are swapped from having an innocent girl pleading for her life, to having a fully grown sadistic man crying and begging for forgiveness from a group of girls.

Uma Thurman appears in Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ both 1 and 2, however she has a stunt double whose name is Zoe Bell. In Death Proof Zoe Bell plays herself this could be for a few reasons. The main one is due to the fact that a stunt double doesn’t need a stunt double. This further means that any stunts that Zoe does in the film is actually her doing it herself. This means that Tarantino can get closer shots of Zoe doing the stunts, whilst still having the same actress both during and not during the stunts. This gives Tarantino a big advantage on a lot of other directors as he can experiment a lot more with shot types and angles during stunts. Giving him a bigger selection of shots to work with. This in turn makes the film like no other modern day film because it is so individual.

There are many different ways that you can look at Death Proof one being that it has a wide range of characteristics from other films, which make people think that its just a load of other peoples ideas thrown in to one film. From a postmodern point of view this film is, yes a mixture of other peoples ideas thrown in to one film, but it is far more than that, it is Quentin Tarantino not just ‘taking peoples ideas’ but putting them across in a way that he feels the other director/actors and actresses didn’t. He uses other peoples ideas in order to put across his own message by making them his own. Tarantino has a love of old Asian and martial arts style films, and you can clearly see this in most of his films. A lot of the music used in Kill Bill can be found in films that most people don’t even know exist. This is what Tarantino loves to do. He pays homage to the films that he feels deserve recognition. People may say that he steals other people’s ideas etc, but in reality he is just trying to pay tribute to the films that he grew up watching. He wants people to be able to have a similar viewing experience that he did as a child. This is the main reason that Death Proof is so gritty. It is almost a replica of what a Grindhouse cinema film used to be like. He even uses the exact same opening to one of the films that was shown in a Grindhouse cinema at the start of Death Proof, even if it is only for a split second at the start of the film.

Another thing that creates a postmodern feel towards Death Proof is another thing that links two of Tarantino’s films together. This is the phone ringtone you hear in Death Proof which is also heard in Kill Bill volume 1 inside the hospital. It is whistled by one of the characters. This means that whenever you hear this tune, you automatically link it with Quentin Tarantino and his previous works. But only if you have watched them previously.


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