If Quentin Tarantino favors one genre above all others, it’s the Western. Even when he’s not making Western films, he’s referencing them, whether in the chop-sockey martial arts homage of Kill Bill or in the split-narrative meanderings of Pulp Fiction. Such is his love for Western iconography that, after his first foray into the archetype back in 2012 with Djano Unchained, Tarantino decided months ago to make yet another Western as a follow-up. And why not? He clearly had a blast making Django, so returning to that frontier setting seemed only natural for the auteur.
But then disaster (such as it is) struck production on the film, lyrically titled Hateful Eight, when the first draft of the script leaked online, and Tarantino, in a justifiable fit of pique, decided to nix the project entirely after expressing his rank outrage at having his work spoiled on the web. Them’s the breaks, so they say, but Tarantino’s a shrewd guy, and he figured out a way to turn the debacle to his advantage: by gathering a heavy-hitting troupe of actors and performing a live script reading in front of an eager audience at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts.
Score one for Tarantino, because according to both Slashfilm and THR, the reading wound up being a huge success. Not only did the event make it abundantly clear that QT still has his sights set on making Hateful Eight his next feature – with a vaguely planned shooting date for this coming winter – but it gave his audience a detailed (if demonstrably non-cinematic) preview of what shape the film will ultimately take. Talk about seizing victory from the jaws of defeat.
Joining Tarantino, who narrated the script, on-stage at the LACMA was a talented conglomerate of actors that started with Samuel L. Jackson, ended with Michael Madsen, and rounded itself out in-between with the likes of Walton Goggins, Zoe Bell, Dana Gourrier, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russell, Dennis Menochet, Tim Roth, James Parks, Amber Tamblyn, and James Remar. Worthy of note is the fact that some of these thespians were called on to read multiple parts, so for those expecting that, say, Christoph Waltz might show up for his third dance with Tarantino, don’t give up hope just yet.
If the cast itself serves up little by way of surprise, given that many of the above participants have worked with Tarantino before, then the tenor of the story should be even less shocking: Hateful Eight is violent, vulgar, laced with a choice number of racial epithets, and loaded with the sort of punchy dialogue that is Tarantino’s calling card. In that respect, Hateful Eight sounds very much like a Tarantino picture through and through, and with his post-Civil War backdrop, he’s continuing the same revenge-driven, race-fueled thematic bent established in Django Unchained.
What is different about Hateful Eight is location. Unlike the rest of his filmography, this movie will see Tarantino sticking to one specific setting, an interesting (and potentially very compelling) change of pace in light of the ever-changing scenery of the Kill Bill films, Inglorious Basterds, and even movies like Reservoir Dogs. The film takes place in Wyoming several years after the end of the aforementioned country-wide conflict, drawing all of its characters to a mountainside burg in the Cowboy State in advance of a massive winter storm that presumably leaves everybody snowbound and stir-crazy.
On paper, that sounds like a recipe for a dramatic powder keg, and the thought of Tarantino challenging himself by sticking to one location for the span of an entire movie sounds strangely exciting. Length, by the way, is indeterminate; going by the old adage that one script page equates to one minute of running time, Hateful Eight might clock in at just shy of three hours, though it deserves mention that the loquacious Tarantino reportedly offered a great deal of description during the read, including repeated mentions of his plan to shoot the film in 70mm. That’s bound to add a lot of excess to the proceedings.
All told, this means good things for Hateful Eight and for Tarantino’s admirers; while there’s no telling who else might end up involved with the film, or when it’ll be ready for theatrical release, it’s still happening, which should be encouraging enough to hear on its own merits.
Screen Rant will keep you in the loop about Hateful Eight as more information becomes available.
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