How Often Do Women Speak in Quentin Tarantino Films?

Surprise! It's less often than men.

Quentin tarantino female lines
Some critics think Margot Robbie didn't receive enough lines in Tarantino's latest release
Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for Sony Pictures
By Kayla Kibbe / August 7, 2019 11:46 am

While Quentin Tarantino’s much anticipated release Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood hasn’t been wanting for attention at the box office, some moviegoers did happen to notice that one of the film’s stars may have been somewhat wanting for lines. In response to criticism suggesting that Tarantino deliberately elected not to give Oscar-nominated actress Margot Robbie more lines in her starring role as Sharon Tate, the director told a New York Times reporter that he simply rejected such “hypotheses.”

Following Tarantino’s unapologetic rejection of the criticism, Time decided to investigate just how often the director’s other female characters have spoken in his films. In a recent article, Anna Purna Kambhampaty and Elijah Wolfson dug through Tarantino’s catalogue, counting the number of lines spoken by female characters in each of the director’s 10 feature-length films and comparing the numbers to the lines spoken by his male characters.

Across all 10 films, male characters speak 72.3 percent of the films’ lines. There are only two films in which female characters speak more lines than their male costars: 2003’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1, in which women voiced 58.6 percent of the script, and 2007’s Death Proof, in which women landed a whopping 79.9 percent of the lines.

With those two exceptions, the trend of significantly male-dominated dialogue is fairly consistent throughout the Tarantino catalogue. Women received the least dialogue in 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, with female characters voicing fewer than 1 percent of the film’s lines. To be fair, however, Reservoir Dogs also had the fewest female characters at just 14.8 percent. Of course, a consistent lack of female characters in Tarantino’s films may be cause for criticism in its own right. Across all ten films, the number of male characters dominated by 64 percent.

When it comes to Tarantino’s latest flick, Kambhampaty and Wolfson found the numbers to represent what we may consider a fairly typical Tarantino film, with the Once Upon a Time‘s 24.7 percent of female dialogue coming the closest of any one film to matching the catalogue-wide average.

Whether or not that average amounts to “enough” female lines is still up for debate, but we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

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