Director and writer Quentin Tarantino‘s eight addition to his unique filmography, The Hateful Eight, is deservedly one of the most talked about films in recent years. Despite being (criminally) snubbed by the Academy Awards for Best Picture, and having the unfortunate timing of competing with the newest expansion of the Star Wars series, the film left audiences around the world smiling. Here are 8 great reasons why you should watch The Hateful Eight – and, if possible, during it’s theater run:
- The Cinematography
The Hateful Eight had a nostalgic approach to nearly all of it’s elements. It was filmed by cinematographer Robert Richardson on Kodak 65 mm film (released in 70 mm) using Ultra Panavision 70 Anamorphic lenses for a unique (for our time) ultra-widescreen aspect ratio. The last film to use these lenses was Khartoum (1966, dir. Basil Dearden), starring Charlton Heston, and the last film widely released in 70mm was Far and Away (1992, dir. Ron Howard). Tarantino avoided any use of digital intermediates, including for coloring. The film was entirely colored photo-chemically. Not only this, but the cinematography throughout was absolutely splendid. Grandiose winter landscapes and superbly lit indoor scenes; Intense winter storms and intricate compositions – the film was a marvelous visual experience from beginning to end.
- The Musical Score by Ennio Moricone
Ennio Morricone needs no introduction. He has scored some of the greatest films of the second half of the 20th century. However, this is the first Western scored by him in 34 years (since the Spaghetti Western Buddy Goes West). This is also the first film of Tarantino’s to use an original score. And it is magnificent. The music also includes songs by The White Stripes and Roy Orbison, as well as three unused tracks from The Thing (1982) and an Australian folk song, sung by one of our characters on an authentic 1870’s Martin guitar.
- Dialogue and Script
Quentin Tarantino has always excelled at great dialogue. It is one of his characteristic traits as a screenwriter and filmmaker since the days of True Romance, Natural Born Killers and Reservoir Dogs. The script is well balanced and structured with many of his characteristic twists and rides. It can go from funny to serious and from calm to violent in seconds, and it keeps the audience guessing and interested until the very end. It seems very hard to keep an audience occupied for close to three hours with a film that mostly takes place in a single location. It’s no wonder that QT has expressed his ambition to become a writer after completing his filmaking career.
Featuring an ensemble cast of forgotten and aging stars, The Hateful Eight features a great array of acting performances. For me, Jennifer Jason Leigh stole the show, though the rest of the ‘Hateful’ all deserve considerable praise. Kurt Russell is astounding, Samuel L. Jackson is at the top of his game, and so were all of the rest (including the two Reservoir Dogs, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen). Tarantino was able to showcase all of the cast’s outstanding talent through great acting direction. It even worked on Channing Tatum, in what is most likely his most serious and best role.
- Political relevance & historical aspect
The film can be viewed as a commentary on American society, looking at the historical aspect of how some of it’s traits came to be. The Hateful Eight takes place in the years just after the Civil War and puts together eight characters who have won in, lost in, battled and experienced the most turbulent years in American history. Tarantino has on many occasions admitted that the subject of racial relations in America fascinates him, and he hasn’t strayed from it in nearly all of his films. Considering that it was originally thought up as a sequel to Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight seems to take this a step further.
- Not “politically correct”
What I found very appealing was the fact that the film strayed away from the “politically correct” wave that has swept through society and tarnished cinema and art in recent years. In times where everything you say can and will be used against you by one group or another, it is refreshing to see a film that dares to use the kind of language that was used in the period, that dares stand it’s ground in the battlefield of conflicting opinions.
- Unique vision and style of QT
The film can be easily be categorized as fitting the “auteur” theory of the mid 20th century. It is entirely a Quentin Tarantino film – another trait, which he is celebrated for. Whether one likes it or not, one has to acknowledge that it expresses the views and emotions of it’s creator, and has not been interfered with by outside forces (studios, advertising and what would work better with the target audience). This, at least for me, is one of the most important factors I take into consideration when analyzing a film.
- Attention to detail
Strict attention to detail is evident throughout the picture. From John Ruth and O.B.’s carriage to the interior of Minnie’s Haberdashery – set design and the mise en scène were well planned, prepared and executed. Just take into account the aforementioned authentic 1870’s Martin Guitar (which, on a separate note, was not lucky enough to survive the production) – strict attention to detail, from the actors to the lights, from the scenery to the costumes, and everywhere in between, is always a sign of a great film.
Made for cinephiles by a cinephile – and one of the great directors of our time. Is it the greatest film ever? No. Is it QT’s best? No. But it is a fantastic film worth every penny of it’s admission and every second of your time. It’s films like this that will bring audiences back to the theaters and will keep the art of cinema alive. This reviewer is only saddened that he was not able to see it in Roadshow format.
by Asparuh Frangov, www.mustseecinema.com