Quentin Tarantino revealed during his appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience” this week that his working relationship with Harvey Weinstein got off to a rocky start once Miramax became the distributor of his directorial debut feature “Reservoir Dogs”. Weinstein allegedly wanted to remove the torture scene from the film, which Tarantino says always led to walkouts during screenings at the “Reservoir Dogs” film festival. The scene, in which Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) tortures a policeman (Kark Baltz) by slitting his face and cutting off his ear (all on “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel), is the most famous of the movie sequence.
“His reasoning was, ‘Look, Quentin, this is a movie that anyone can watch. But with this torture scene, you are going to alienate your women; they won’t want to see it. So you literally put your own movie in a little box. But without that scene, anyone can go and see this movie and everyone will enjoy it, ”Tarantino said. “And [in rejecting Weinstein’s wishes], that’s kind of where I became me, because Harvey used to win those kinds of arguments.
Weinstein was infamous in Hollywood for forcing changes on his directors, which earned him the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands” over the years. Tarantino refused to let Weinstein cut off the torture scene, and he won his case by reminding Weinstein that the film had performed at festivals before and generated a buzz for the scene. If the torture scene suddenly disappeared, it would create a lot of questions.
Tarantino joins the long list of directors who have fought against Weinstein’s cutting tendencies. Bong Joon Ho revealed in 2019 that the cut of “Snowpiercer” became controversial after Weinstein wanted to cut 25 minutes from the film. Weinstein was reportedly determined to cut a scene in which a train guard empties a fish in order to intimidate a group of rebels. The shot was particularly preferred by Bong and cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo.
“Harvey hated it. Why fish? We need action! Bong said. “I had a headache then: what am I doing? So all of a sudden I said, ‘Harvey, this photo means something to me. It’s something personal. My father was a fisherman. I dedicate this plan to my father. It was a fucking lie. My father was not a fisherman.
Bong’s lie worked, and Weinstein allowed the fish scene to stay. Even more legendary is Hayao Miyazaki’s battle against Weinstein over “Princess Mononoke”. Weinstein’s reputation preceded him so well that the producer of Miyazaki sent Weinstein a samurai sword with a note saying “No Cut” attached to the blade, but the warning was not enough.
Former Studio Ghibli executive Steve Alpert writes in his 2020 memoir that Weinstein went crazy for him when Miyazaki refused to cut the runtime of “Princess Mononoke” from 135 minutes to 90 minutes. Alpert writes that Weinstein got angry and threatened him by saying, “If you don’t get [Miyazaki] to cut this fucking movie, you’ll never work in this fucking industry again! Do you fucking understand me? Never!”
Miyazaki retained final cut privileges over his films, so Weinstein was helpless in the ordeal.
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