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Reservoir Dogs as an Example of American Independent Cinema

by Suleman

Table of Contents

  • Reservoir Dogs as an Example of American Independent Cinema
  • Introduction
  • American Independent Cinema
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Reservoir Dogs as an American Independent Film
  • Social Context
  • Industrial Context
  • Conclusion
  • References


American independent cinema affected the American film industry to a great extent. Previously, all the movies were constructed with the support of Hollywood studios. Still, over time, it was evident that the films produced by Hollywood studios needed major finance as the usage of studios for filmmaking incorporated major economy (Fernet, 252). Independent filmmaking was there in the twentieth century. Independent filmmaking was low-budgeted and did not make use of Hollywood studios. The films that were made without the support of Hollywood were called independent movies (Levy, 74).

Over time, new people started coming towards the profession of independent moviemaking because of low costing and innovating ideas regarding filmmaking (Biskind, 59). Nowadays, independent filmmaking is much more reputable and is considerable earning for those moviemakers who are unable to consume large financial inputs in filmmaking.


Reservoir Dogs as an Example of American Independent Cinema

Reservoir Dogs is one of American independent movie that was made in 1992. The movie got enough fame because of its subject matter and referring to popular culture. Eight men dressed in black with different coloured names attracted a huge audience towards the film, and the film got enough reputation based on its innovative content dealing with common slang and violence. The film was a success in terms of social as well as industrial context. It is considered as an influential independent movie in the independent filmmaking. It is also considered as an inspiration for independent filmmaking. It was low-budgeted and came out with a big profit in terms of the initial cost consumed in its development. It highlighted all the aspects of American independent cinema.

American Independent Cinema

Cinema and films needed individual studios that were constructed for movie making purposes when people started to make movies. The first films that came up on the screen were silent movies that were made on individual studios specially designed for them (Mordden, 175). Therefore, for movie making studios were considered as the most important tools for the development of a movie. Hollywood studio system included many leading studios named as RKO, MGM, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox (Mordden, 151). The movies that were made with the help of Hollywood studio systems were high-budgeted (Lyons, 56).

American Independent movie came into origin at the beginning of the twentieth century. An independent film is a film that is made without the support and requirement of Hollywood studios (Fernet, 261). Independent movies are also called Indie movies. They are called independent because there are not any kinds of studio restrictions on the moviemaking. They were low budgeted movies, as there was no need to withstand any studio cost (Merritt, 163). Because of taking low risks in terms of costs, there were more chances of profits. The artists of the silent movies founded America Independent Cinema (Levy, 76).

With the advent of American Independent Cinema, there was a start of a new kind of filmmaking (Merritt, 168). The audience showed more interest in Independent movies. The moviemakers came up with new ideas and included topics that were of most interest for the youth such as action, sex, violence, employability of drugs, horror and many other hot topics that were considered interesting by the young people (Biskind, 43).

There was also a break to Independent movie making because of participation of new Hollywood that offered its studios to Independent moviemakers (Mordden, 157). It was rejuvenated in the 1980s by several movies made by Independent moviemakers. The movies that were under the title of Independent movies were very different as compared to Hollywood movies based on their matter, topics, styles and subjects. The moviemakers were able to get enough financial accomplishments based on these movies (Levy, 83).

American independent cinema movies are low budgeted, and many moviemakers are attracted towards Independent film making because nowadays the equipment needed for filmmaking is not needed from the big studios. Still, every type of equipment can be attained from markets on low costs (Biskind, 47). There are many studios developed on a smaller level for Independent filmmakers, which can help them in filmmaking (Fernet, 283). Nowadays, filmmaking is much easier, as there is a technology that accommodates individuals with every kind of equipment for film making at low costs.

Reservoir Dogs

The Reservoir Dogs made in 1992 is considered a big hit as a huge audience greatly liked it. The film got a good reception from people. It was condemned because of its violent scenes by many critics, but it won a lot of praise along with criticism. The themes that the film worked on were related to violence and crime (McKinney, 31). Men were shown making use of guns and armaments for the obtainment of their planned mission. The director of the movie, Quentin Tarantino also made use of soundtracks of the 1970s that were made popular with the screening of Reservoir Dogs (McKinney, 33).

The film incorporated a major cast of eight men, who were shown involved in a robbery of a jewellery shop. The names given to all of the eight men were codenames. They were Mr White, Mr Pink, Mr Orange, Mr Blonde, Mr Brown, Mr Blue, Nice Guy and Joe Cabot. Joe Cabot is the mastermind of the planned robbery. Nice Guy is his son, whose original name is Eddie Cabot. The names given to all the gangsters are given as a risk of being arrested (Howe, 3).

Joe Cabot hires all the gangsters. There is a lot of killing in the film with a lot of violent acts. Two of the gangsters are killed during the theft while others get killed by each other except one who is then killed by police. At the end of the story, every member of the gang is killed (Biskind, 51). Mr Orange is an undercover police officer who has a mission to arrest Joe Cabot. The gangsters after robbing are divided into parts during which they hijack certain cars to reach the set location. During this hijacking and counterattacking to the police that is chasing them, they get hold of a police officer and kill many others (McKinney, 36).

After reaching their set point, it is found that one of the gangsters that is Mr Orange is injured while two gangsters that are Mr Brown and Mr Blue get killed in the way. Mr Blonde is killed by Mr Orange to secure the police officer, Mavin. Remaining members reach the set location, where they kill each other after passing unforgettable dialogues. Mr Pink escapes from this shootout, but he is killed by police while escaping (Howe, 4).

The film as a whole is a story of violent crime in which, the gangsters kill each other in rage. They are unable to trust each other. They are doubted about each other’s original reality based on which they shoot one another. The film reports about crime and the consequences of crime (McKenna, 6). Some critics criticize the acts of violence and aggression that are shown in the movie, but the audience loved the film because of its action, violence and pop culture (McKinney, 38).

Reservoir Dogs as an American Independent Film

Reservoir Dogs is categorized as an American Independent film. Firstly, because it is made out of Hollywood studios, secondly, it is a low budgeted movie. Any movie that is made without the support of Hollywood studio systems is called Independent movie. The movie is also regarded as the greatest Independent movie by the empire Magazine of England (McKenna, 4). The movie got a welcoming reception from the audience of various countries because of its subject matter and thematic structure. It referred to current topics and showed them with full of action and violence. Crime is an activity that is done on our streets every other day, but the movie portrayed the criminal violence with the support of pop culture by taking the help of soundtracks of the 1970s (Clarkson, 68).

It is considered as a classical Independent or Indie film because of its subject matter. Independent movies that were started to be made in the twentieth century were famous because of their subject matter that was violence, sex, action, drugs and many others that attracted youth. Reservoir Dogs also makes use of violence along with soundtracks that are demanding and persuasive (Clarkson, 70). The young audience of America loved the movie because of its free screening with its subject matter. The dialogues of the movie also got fame because of their sarcastic and ear-catching content (McKenna, 5).

The language of the movie also got appreciation along with negative criticism from critics. According to some critics, the language employed in the movie is very vulgar and racist while others feel it as an influential part of the movie. The movie contains all the aspects of the independent American movie, as it is out of Hollywood studio production, low financed, a subject matter that is more attractive for the youth and because it employs popular culture (Levy, 87).

Reservoir Dogs did not need any cooperation from the studios. It also contained other features of independent movie making such as powerful acting, professional expertise and innovation. The budget for the movie was very low, nearly 1.5 million dollars, but the resulting profit was much higher (Clarkson, 72). Unlike the conventions followed in Hollywood’s developed movies, it took popular culture into focus while being prepared.

The film, Reservoir Dogs, was developed with keeping in view the popular aspects such as popular music, slang dialogues and violence. All these features of the movie categorize it as an indie movie. Eight men in black suits with different coloured names, involved in a robbery and do violent acts, innovate a new style and fashion in film making. The content of the movie that is the storyline and action attracted a wide range of audience towards it. Eight men dressed in same black colour but with doubted mindsets were in search of success and money and accomplished a dog like a death in the end. The content of Reservoir Dogs also gives a moral and that related to the consequence that the criminals meet at the end. Bad deeds always drag a person towards annihilation and adversity, such as what appeared to the criminal characters of Reservoir Dogs.

The production of Reservoir Dogs is innovative that is clear by the flashback scenes by which, the characters of the movie think about their past such as is shown in the flashback scene of Mr Orange. The help of flashback scenes shows the lives of all the characters. Mr Blonde, in a scene showing his violence, cuts the ear of the policeman and by hitting him hardly depicts the extreme violence in Reservoir Dogs. The ear cutting scene was gruesome and was fully violent. Another feature of Reservoir Dogs as an Indie movie is its production outside the Hollywood studios. The film is pictured on roads, and the characters are shown running as the police are chasing them. Some of them also get injured while being chased. Mr Pink’s is being killed, and it is depicted off-camera by the help of sirens of police vehicles. The scene, where seven of the characters, Mr White, Mr Orange, Mr Blonde, Mr Brown, Mr Blue, Nice Guy and Joe Cabot point their guns towards each other and then they shoot each other due to which, all of them are killed except Mr White, who is killed by the policemen entering the robbers’ location. In the shoot out scene, the camera moves its focus from one person to other.

Social Context

If Reservoir Dogs is judged in terms of the social context, it is quite clear that the movie fits in the social context according to its employability of the popular culture. The director and writer of the movie, Reservoir Dogs, noticed the acceptance and liking of his movie, ‘Pulp fiction’ after which, he developed Reservoir Dogs. ‘Pulp Fiction’ also received a good reception from viewers after which, Quentin Tarantino decided to make, Reservoir Dogs (Clarkson, 76).

He made use of a subject matter that seemed attractive and eye-catching to the youth of the country. The subject matter and the topic were hot enough to drag the audience from homes to view a movie on screen with full appreciation. There was a lot of action in the movie, and the audience loved the actors that were the cast of the movie. The whole cast was involved in an action that was eye-catching (Levy, 88). There were guns, killing, violence, crime, fighting, chasing, escaping and a lot of fun during movie watching.

People are attracted to criminal activities that are shown on the screen. It is clear that people do not like such activities to happen on streets and roads, but they like to view all the activities on the screen such as brutality, sex, action, usage of drugs and much more (Merritt, 186). For youth, all of these aspects are eye-catching and persuasive, so, they regard all this as an independent movie that was made keeping in view the requirements and aspirations of the youth.

The ending of the movie also indicates towards an unforgiving end for all the gangsters, which is a sort of message that such activities that are criminal and unlawful take people nowhere but towards death (Clarkson, 72). In a social context, the movie is very strong as it depicts the brutality of gangsters that they can exercise on common people. Some scenes of the movie are regarded as very much violent and gruesome because of their over depiction of brutality such as the ear cutting scene in which, the ear of a police officer is cut with brutality (Merritt, 178).

The movie was made by considering and focusing on the popular culture that was crime and violence. Moreover, it is also seen that youth show a great interest in music and songs. The director, Quentin Tarantino also employed several songs in the movie but kept the soundtracks of 1970s because according to him, the soundtracks of 1970s kept the power of working with violence scenes shown in the movie (Levy, 91).

Industrial Context

As far as the industrial context of the movie, Reservoir Dogs is concerned; the movie was constructed to generate good revenue. The fame of independent movies and the attraction of moviemakers towards independent filmmaking concerns the fact that a low amount if consumed on moviemaking and the chances or risks of gaining a loss are minima (Merritt, 181). In case of a loss, the moviemakers have to suffer a minimum loss, and there are more chances of profits because of low budgeted movies.

The movie, Reservoir Dogs, was regarded as the biggest hit of its time because of its storyline, innovation, flashbacks, violence, language, popular culture and the cast. As an independent movie, it set a culture of low-budgeted movies that were made without the cooperation of Hollywood studio systems (Clarkson, 78). In an industrial context, the movie was a success as the money employed in its production was very low, and there was a lot of profit with its screening. It set the trend for other independent movies to refer to popular culture and other social issues (McKinney, 38). After seeing the success of Reservoir Dogs as an independent America cinema movie with success, moviemakers in the American film industry are diverted towards making of more independent movies in place of Hollywood movies with high budgets and financial costs (Levy, 85).

Not only Reservoir Dogs but also many other Independent movies affected the Hollywood studio systems. In the 1980s, the independent America cinema revived using independent movies made by innovating and new moviemakers that were interested in making money from low-budgeted movies (Clarkson, 83). Over time, it is quite clear that people who are involved in independent moviemaking are more successful in earning. In an industrial context, Reservoir Dogs was a success as it earned a lot more than its consumption. The movie stands as an inspiration for many other independent moviemakers (Merritt, 189).


After analyzing Reservoir Dogs and American independent cinema, it is quite clear that Reservoir Dogs as a representative of American independent cinema contains all the aspects of independent filmmaking such as popular culture, low-budgeted, subject matter, violence and others. In an industrial and social context, the film is a success as it was successful in portraying the criminal violence in a social context and terms of industrial context; it helped many other moviemakers to give attention towards independent filmmaking.

Independent filmmaking is a supporting pillar for American cinema because it introduced many such themes and innovating ideas that were not there before (Lyons, 73). It was diverted from ordinary subject matter, language, action and themes. People from middle classes were attracted towards the business of moviemaking because independent moviemaking incorporates low costs (Lyons, 68). Because of more people in the film industry, there were more new and novel ideas and aspects introduced in filmmaking that attracted a wide range of audience towards it.

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