The Truth in the Script and the Untruth in the Movie: Tarantino’s Rewriting of American History

Enrico Botta

Abstract


In his historical movies, Quentin Tarantino rereads and rewrites three critical moments of the American past. An interesting strategy he uses is that of introducing different imaginary artifacts into the narration: a film-within-the-film (The Pride of a Nation) in Inglorious Basterds (2009), KKK hoods in Django Unchained (2012), and the Viking crucifix in The Hateful Eight (2015). This article aims at investigating how such a transmedia adaptation of these fictitious elements, from the scripts into the movies, defines three ekphrastic sections that overturn the relationship between truth and falsehood. This process can be analyzed in light of Michele Cometa’s theory about the connection between literature and visuality; in the critic’s understanding, the ekphrasis of a real artifact represents a falsification of the work itself, due to the fact that during the adaptation it is in some way altered. Conversely, the ekphrasis of a fictional artifact can be interpreted as a validation of the given object because it is created during the transition process. From this perspective, the artifacts inserted by Tarantino in the mentioned screenplays can be considered ‘true’ since their mental images are brought to life thanks to verbal language. However, once they are inserted into the movies they become ‘false’ because the cinematographic language alters their ‘written form,’ depriving them of their claimed truthfulness. Thus, Tarantino deliberately intermingles facts and fiction to produce a national post-truth narration which is, in Lee McIntyre’s words, “a form of ideological supremacy, whereby its practitioners are trying to compel someone to believe in something whether there is good evidence for it or not” (2018, 13).

Keywords


screenplay studies; Quentin Tarantino; historical movies; post-truth

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2021.i18.994

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