(A helpful review of Quentin Tarantino's work, in my view. Just a pity the reviewer didn't spell "Inglourious" right!)
[...] Violence has particular power on film precisely because it involuntarily activates our powers of empathy. We imagine ourselves, as an unthinking reflex, into the agony. This is the most civilising instinct we have: to empathize with suffering strangers. (It competes, of course, with all our more base instincts). Any work of art that denies this sense – that is based on subverting it – will ultimately be sullying. No, I’m not saying it makes people violent. But it does leave the viewer just a millimetre more morally corroded. Laughing at simulated torture – and even cheering it on, as we are encouraged to through all of Tarantino’s later films – leaves a moral muscle just a tiny bit more atrophied.
You can see this in the responses of Tarantino himself. Not long after 9/11, he said: “It didn’t affect me because there’s, like, a Hong Kong action movie? called Purple Storm and they work in a whole big thing in the plot that they blow up a skyscraper.” It’s a case-study in atrophy of moral senses: to brag you weren’t moved by the murder of two and half thousand actual people, because you’d already seen it simulated in a movie. Only somebody who has never seen violence – who sees the world as made of celluloid – can respond like this. Read more
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