Reservoir Dogs Walking Scene Analysis

I look at the Quinten Tarantino movie scene titled “Walking Scene – Reservoir Dogs“ (I’ve also just included the scene below if you want to watch it there).

I watched the scene three times to analyze it with different perspectives.

Once without sound to analyze the visual production.

Once without video and only the sounds.

And once the way movies are intended to be watched. I just watched it regularly; paying close attention to many of Tarantino’s directing decisions in this short clip.


These were my initial notes watching with no sound, video only:

Subjects are mostly center screen on close ups

Close-ups still include other characters in background

At first the characters are walking at you

At the end they are walking away from the camera and the perspective is from behind them, walking away

This gives sense of motion and a sense of feeling to the viewer that the characters just walked right by them.


These were my initial notes watching with no video, sound only:

Narrator opens up for about 10 seconds, chatting about some family and then his voice fades out to music playing

Music begins and plays until the end of the clip – it was just like listening to a song that started at the catchiest part of the tune


These were my notes watching the movie clip regularly:

The cut to the credits occurs right at a musical tempo shift

The slow motion walking paired with the music gives the characters an air of importance or significance


When you take away one of your senses you begin to take notice to other aspects of the production you would’ve otherwise been over saturated with.

For me, when I watched with no sound that was the most insightful view I did.

I caught myself really paying attention to the camera and the characters considerably more with the absence of sound.

I recommend having a look yourself at a couple of your favorite movie scenes like this.

You’ll get some interesting insight into how the director and/or production team were thinking.

Maybe you’ll come to an even greater understanding as to exactly why that scene is so appealing to you.

I’ve recently read a nice little piece by Roger Ebert titled “How To Read A Movie” (I talk more about this piece by Ebert here )and I’d like to connect an interesting idea in that reading, the “golden ratio”, to the Walking Scene – Reservoir Dogs.

In line with what Ebert says about appealing visuals, this scene follows some great rules of thumb in video.

A person located somewhat to the right of center will seem ideally placed. A person to the right of that position will seem more positive; to the left, more negative. A centered person will seem objectified, like a mug shot. I call that position somewhat to the right of center the “strong axis.”

Roger Ebert (How to Read A Movie)

You’ll notice Tarantino chooses to put the subjects in the center frame.

The men in the movie aren’t exactly “good” men. They’re criminals really.

Perhaps Tarantino centered the characters here in line with Ebert’s thoughts on center-focused positioning for a brash, mug shot objective that matches with the characters’ personalities.

While the characters aren’t positioned in the “golden ratio” area (slightly center right), this is probably purposefully.

These characters aren’t “golden boys”. They’re criminals.

They wouldn’t really belong within the “golden ratio” where they would be portrayed more so in a universally interpreted positive light.

And before I go let’s remember again – none of these rules are law.

these are tendencies within the composition. They are not absolutes.

Roger Ebert (How to Read A Movie)

Nothing is absolute. Only guiding lights.

So in the end. Do whatever you want.

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