The Hateful Eight/The Hateful Eight Primer
From The Quentin Tarantino Archives
This primer gives Tarantino fans a bit more background information on The Hateful Eight.
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 (hes on number 8 now) he plans to retire from filmmaking 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 celluloid (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 the cinematic paintings in the form of still images projected at 24 frames per second create the illusion of movement and 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
Anti-Heroes and Vicious Villains
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. Kill Bill was set in a world of lethal international assassins. Inglourious Basterds pitted evil Nazis against a squad of renegade American-Jewish soldiers and in Django Unchained bounty hunters and slaveowners were the focus. Now in The Hateful Eight QT centers the spotlight on a group of mysterious gunpacking lawmen and ex-soldiers following the Civil War. In a trademark Tarantino twist, noone in the movie knows who's for real and who's not.
Wild West World
Although its been well documented QT holds 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 the director's classic Western Stagecoach starring John Wayne. There's even a nice secondary connection here since 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 brings back Burton/Wayne again in QT's high octane slasher film Death Proof. It becomes a kind of double impression of himself playing Burton via Wayne.
The Hateful Eight comes not only just out of his love of western movies but the TV shows of that genre that he grew up on. QT has always been just as big a fan of TV as films and is equally knowledgable 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.”
In the Django Unchained Primer Sergio Corbucci's bleak spaghetti western masterpiece The Great Silence is listed as 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 plotline i.e. how he has to transport the crimimals 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 enbankment, 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 backstories 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 visting relatives of a deceased soldier buddy. McCloud soon encounters a notorious gangster 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, 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 potboiler scenario is the perfect forum for QT to showcase his trademark brilliant dialogue and intense, bloody, darkly funny character interactions.
(Originally published at Furious Cinema)