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Love him or hate him, there is always a hype in the air when Quentin Tarantino is talking about his latest project. He seems to have become a pillar of pop culture, each one of his films catapulting into the archives, as if it was already one of the greats. Each film is just packed with memorable quotes, controversial scenes and more uses of the N word than a copy of Grand Theft Auto.

But when it comes to Quentin Tarantino, what I take away the most is the amazing characters. They are so unique and memorable, built from scraps of pop culture that Quentin Tarantino blends together, like a DJ of film. Throw in an actor who is completely in synch with Quentin Tarantino (I’m looking at regular actors, Samuel L Jackson and Harvey Keitel), and you have some fantastic figures to play around with. So, in celebration of his latest release, Django Unchained, I thought I would throw in some of his best creations.

It took me a while to whittle the list down to five gems, so I imagine that some of the readers will have a personal favourite that didn’t quite make the list. I am fairly upset that Kill Bill hasn’t got an entry to defend its honour. Also, Django Unchained is not included in the list, before people start asking where Leonardo Di Caprio is.

5 – MR. WHITE

Mr. White from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ is a good character to start with. He embodies everything about the stereotypical Quentin Tarantino character: cool, collected and awesome. I almost included Mr. Wolf from ‘Pulp Fiction’, also portrayed by Harvey Keitel, but I like to think of Mr. Wolf as an exaggerated version of Mr. White. Mr. White is the real deal, the one gangster in the whole film that you would actually want in your crew.

Background story: Mr. White turned to crime after getting kicked out of the Men In Black

Background story: Mr. White turned to crime after getting kicked out of the Men In Black

The best gangster movies involve some sort of downward spiral and with Mr. White, it is no different, only the descent takes place over two hours, rather than several years condensed into a film. Ironically, Mr. White’s crippling factor is the one feature that makes his character so likeable: sympathy. For fear of giving away the twist ending, his belief that Mr. Orange is not the snitch in the group, is wrong and what leads to his death. It is heartbreaking to see Mr. White so distraught the moment he learns that he was in the wrong the whole time… just for doing the right thing. It is an unusual moral to close the film on, but a fantastic piece of character development.

4 – LOUIS GARA

I am unsure if my love of Louis Gara is for the actual character out of ‘Jackie Brown’, or Robert De Niro. Louis Gara, on paper, is a tiny role in the film. Out of the six leads, Louis Gara is the least interesting: the crook who just got released from jail and acts as a henchman for Samuel L. Jackson’s Ordell. Out of all of the characters, he has little ulterior motive and barely affects the plot intentionally. Yet, the moment the role was handed to De Niro, he took the small part and stole the show with it.

It’s the small things that make it such a good performance. Robert De Niro is just so in tune with his character that it is just so awesome to watch him do his thing. The way he acts around new technology (obviously fresh out of jail, he isn’t used to certain things), the way he avoids eye contact with nearly every character, until he snaps. It is another piece of evidence to suggest that De Niro is one of the greatest actors of all time.

3 – SHOSANNA DREYFUS – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS

If this was Les Miserables, the french woman would have a cockney accent as well as a chimney sweeper's hat.

If this was Les Miserables, the french woman would have a cockney accent as well as a chimney sweeper’s hat.

There is just something about Shosanna Dreyfus that I like. She is the main symbol of a Jew completely destroyed by the German occupation of France. Yet, she spends the entire film waiting for the time to strike, like a coiled snake. It kind of reminds me of the lead character in ‘Shawshank Redemption’: remaining quiet throughout the film, almost suggesting submission (she is also the only unknown face on the cast list. A clever choice: a big name would distract from the idea that she hides in the background). Only here, we know that Dreyfus is only waiting for the opportune moment, so the audience is at the edge of their seats, ready for her attack.

Oh, and it comes. Her final act of vengeance not only claims her revenge, but spirals out of control, bringing a climax to every other storyline in the film (as always, Tarantino likes his films to be episodic). It is a great ending for the film and a great conclusion for this fantastic character.

2 – JULES WINNFIELD AND VINCENT VEGA – PULP FICTION

We all knew that these two would be on the list. The thing is I couldn’t choose between them: so I cheated and made them a joint second. Truthfully, these two characters work best, when sharing the screen together anyway. Their conversations, in my opinion, are one of the main reasons that make Pulp Fiction a great film, rather than a good film. The way they quietly discuss the nature of a foot massage, before brutally killing a bunch of people. That scene is one of the most memorable moments of cinema.

It is also an example of Quentin Tarantino getting the most out of two great actors. John Travolta hadn’t really be given any serious roles before, shooting himself in he foot with the success of Grease. Quentin Tarantino saw something in him and let the world share that insight into a talented actor. And now Travolta is up there with some of the most reliable actors in Hollywood right now. And as I have said before, Samuel L Jackson and Tarantino are pretty much partners in crime. My problem with Samuel L Jackson is that in a lot of films, I just see ‘Samuel L. Jackson’. It’s not his fault: most writers cannot resist writing for ‘Samuel L Jackson’, as if he is both the actor and the character (see Iron Man 2). However, Tarantino just gets Sam Jackson, can find the dialogue that he can master on-screen and makes characters as amazing as Jules Winnfield.

1 – HANS LANDA – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS

But the number one spot goes to the cold-hearted, yet fantastic Hans Landa. If Quentin Tarantino was going to write a World War II film, it was clear that he needed to create a monstrous, yet brilliant villain: someone we can hate, but love at the same time. That’s why Christopher Waltz was a wise casting choice.

Finally... a hero out there the Nazis can root for.

Finally… a hero out there the Nazis can root for.

Every sentence is delivered to perfection. When one of the characters has a secret and is faced with Landa, the audience never knows if Landa is onto them or not. The tension is raised to its highest and we are holding our breath, genuinely scared for the characters. Landa is my favourite thing about the entire film: a perfect villain, who is just fun to watch, which in essence is what Quentin Tarantino’s films are about.

Now, if this article is anything like the top 7 Buffy Villains list, people are going to disagree with me, especially as several great characters did not make the cut. In the comments below, feel free to write up your own top five. I love reading them.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Quentin Tarantino Characters

  1. I actually agree with the Shosanna choice, I was rooting for her all the way. Plus that scene where she dines with Hans is brilliant, the tension is almost palpable.

    I think my top 5 though would be:

    5. Lt. Aldo Raine
    4. Ordell Robbie
    3. Jules Winnfield
    2. The Bride
    1. Elle Driver

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