The Hateful Eight Primer
Quentin Tarantino‘s upcoming western thriller THE HATEFUL EIGHT caused quite a ruckus even before it began filming – but that’s just making us anticipate it all the more. By now you probably know the basic premise of the story but in furious film geek fashion we’ve gone a bit further and delved into some of the various influences and connections the film contains, in the following article that is a follow up to a similar one we’ve done on Django Unchained.
THE RETURN OF MOVIE MAGIC
Quentin is a film enthusiast in every sense of the word and has been very outspoken about his disdain for the digital medium, especially non-celluloid theatrical projection which he humorously refers to as “like watching TV in public”. For years now he’s made it clear that if digital takes over the biz completely (which it seems to be), he’d quit making movies. As of now he maintains that after his 10th film (he’s on number 8 now) he plans to retire from film-making and turn his attention to other artistic endeavors. Of course with us being huge fans of his for over 20 years now, we hope he continues making movies until they have to put him in a pine box.
QT’s love and support of 35mm (a quickly dying format), along with fellow filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan is why The Hateful Eight will be made for audiences to experience the rare 70mm GLORIOUS SUPER CINEMASCOPE WIDESCREEN experience. Quentin and his Academy Award winning Cinematographer Robert Richardson will shoot the film on gigantic cameras that amazingly haven’t been in use since the 60s when Stanley Kramer’s road race comedy It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and the CINERAMA epic How The West Was Won were on the big screen. This will be QT’s personal testament to prove that celluloid still images that when projected at 24 frames per second and create the illusion of movement are, as QT stated, the heart of “movie magic”.
“If we do our jobs right by making this film a 70mm event, we will remind people why this is something you can’t see on television and how this is an experience you can’t have when you watch movies in your apartment, your man cave or your iPhone or iPad,” Tarantino said. “You’ll see 24 frames per second play out, all these wonderfully painted pictures create the illusion of movement. I’m hoping it’s going to stop the momentum of the digital stuff, and that people will hopefully go, ‘Man, that is going to the movies, and that is worth saving, and we need to see more of that.” – QT
OUTLAWS AND REBELS
Since the beginning of QT’s career he’s written about characters that function outside the law. In Reservoir Dogs they were professional thieves pulling a heist. In Pulp Fiction, they were underworld gangsters caught in various predicaments. Jackie Brown dealt with ex-cons and other shady folks. Kill Bill was set in a world of lethal international assassins. Inglourious Basterds pitted evil Nazis against a squad of vicious renegade American-Jewish soldiers and in Django Unchained bounty hunters and slave owners were the focus. Now in The Hateful Eight QT will center the spotlight on a group of mysterious gun-packing lawmen and ex-soldiers following the Civil War. In a trademark Tarantino twist, no-one in the movie really knows the motivations of the other. That will surely heighten the potboiler aspect of the story and keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
Although it has been well documented, QT holds the famous Director John Ford in contempt due to things like his participation as an actor in the racist opus The Birth of A Nation, he has clear allusions in his script to Ford’s benchmark Western classic Stagecoach starring John Wayne. There’s even a nice secondary connection here since Hateful star Kurt Russell was imitating Wayne with his goofy reluctant hero Jack Burton in John Carpenter’s cult classic Big Trouble in Little China. Kurt also brought back his Burton/Wayne impression again in QT’s high octane slasher film Death Proof.
The Hateful Eight comes not only just out of QT’s love of the many western movies he’s seen but the TV shows in that genre he grew up on. QT has always been just as big a fan of TV as he is with film and is equally knowledgeable about them. In a recent interview he explained more in detail about the origins of the ideas behind his latest work:
“It’s less inspired by one Western movie than by Bonanza, The Virginian, High Chaparral. Twice per season, those shows would have an episode where a bunch of outlaws would take the lead characters hostage. They would come to the Ponderosa and hold everybody hostage, or to go Judge Garth’s place — Lee J. Cobb played him — in The Virginian and take hostages. There would be a guest star like David Carradine, Darren McGavin, Claude Akins, Robert Culp, Charles Bronson or James Coburn. I don’t like that storyline in a modern context, but I love it in a Western, where you would pass halfway through the show to find out if they were good or bad guys, and they all had a past that was revealed. “I thought, ‘What if I did a movie starring nothing but those characters? No heroes, no Michael Landons. Just a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns, and see what happens.”
THE PERFECT STORM
In our Django Unchained Primer we included Sergio Corbucci’s bleak spaghetti western masterpiece The Great Silence as being one of the movie’s inspirations due to scenes set in the snow. Well, in Hateful Eight, QT is taking that one step further and setting the entire film against the backdrop of a raging Wyoming blizzard.
A Euro-Western that shares a snowy setting, a similar title and the whodunit mystery of QT’s film is Joaquin Marchent’s Cut-Throats Nine. The story follows a group of Civil War criminals that are being transported by wagon through the mountains by Sgt Brown (Robert Hundar) who’s accompanied by his daughter Sarah (Emma Cohen). The criminals are made up of extortionists, rapists, killers and the like. At the opening of the film we get a voice over by Sgt Brown describing the basic plot, i.e. how he has to transport the criminals to a place on the other side of a large mountainous range. The wagon the men are in gets hijacked by a bandit and his son, they are looking for a cache of gold. The only problem is, they cant find it, so they let Sgt Brown go. What the old bandit didn’t realize was that the gold was right in front of his eyes: its the actual chains the convicts are wearing! They continue driving on, that is until they have an accident and the wagon tumbles down an embankment, throwing the convicts around and destroying the wagon itself. Now the criminals have to be brought to jail on foot. We learn that Sgt Brown’s wife was killed by one of the convicts he’s transporting, but even he doesn’t know which one it is. A series of flashback sequences in slow motion to tell the backgrounds of some of the convicts in the group as well as Sgt. Brown, Sarah and his wife and their happy life before her murder by the mysterious killer in the group.
John Huston’s 1948 film noir classic KEY LARGO is yet another link in the chain that Hateful Eight seems to be connected to. The story takes place at a hotel in Key Largo, Florida where war vet Maj. Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) is staying while visiting relatives of a deceased soldier buddy. McCloud soon encounters a notorious gangster named Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) who holds the hotel owners (Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore) and McCloud hostage in a tense standoff that builds to a fever pitch as a tropical hurricane rages outside. One can see the through line from that movie to QT’s own tale of nefarious Western characters stuck in a hotel during a blizzard.
With the great Kurt Russell leading The Eight in the role of bounty hunter John Ruth aka “The Hangman”, it’s apparent that the actor’s early collaboration with his friend John Carpenter on The Thing, a paranoia saturated sci-fi/horror-thriller set in the frozen Arctic about an alien organism hiding inside humans is a major piece of the puzzle. QT has stated that it also influenced his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. This kind of claustrophobic, suspenseful scenario is the perfect forum for QT to showcase his trademark brilliant dialogue and intense, bloody, darkly funny character interactions.
The cameras are set to roll soon on The Hateful Eight in Telluride, Colorado with a cast of amazing actors including: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins and the amazing Demian Bichir. We can’t wait to see it next December!
Special thanks to our sister site the QUENTIN TARANTINO ARCHIVES for assisting us with this post! Make sure to follow their continued coverage of all things HATEFUL