Study Guide

Reservoir Dogs Physical Space

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Physical Space

Tarantino uses the camera to tell us about the relationships between the characters by placing them in certain physical relationships to each other. In the opening diner scene, the image is a bunch of guys crowded around a table. He uses a 360 tracking shot to create a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. We get medium range, over-the-shoulder shots of each guy's face. You can tell they're gonna be working closely together.

By the time we're in the funeral home, there's nothing but space and distance. The camera's at a distance, and the characters are physically far apart from each other. Meaning that by this point, every guy is on his own.

The exceptions are White and Orange, who are on top of each other in a bloody clutch much of the time, showing the kind of relationship they've developed after the heist. During the final standoff, Eddie, White, and Joe form a distant triangle, with White kind of blocking the others' view of Orange. Pink backs off even more, separating himself from the conflict and trying to stop it.

Another classic Tarantino shot is the trunk shot. When Blonde opens the trunk to show the cop, there are two camera angles. In one, shot from inside the trunk, the guys are looking down into the trunk. They're looming above the poor cop and smirking; we know who's in control. It's a very revealing image—things aren't looking good for the guy in the trunk. That's confirmed by the next shot of the cowering cop looking up from the trunk. It says, "helpless." You don't need dialogue with images like that.

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