A few days ago, Netflix secretly dropped an extended cut of The Hateful Eight that turned a three-hour movie into a four-hour miniseries. Quentin Tarantino has since confirmed his involvement in the re-edit:
“Netflix came to us and said, ‘Hey, look, if you’d be interested...If there’s even more footage, if you’d be interested in putting it together, and in a way that we could show it as three or four episodes, depending on how much extra footage you have, we’d be willing to do that.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really intriguing.’” It was an interesting experiment. Here are 5 Ways The Hateful Eight Is Better As A Netflix Miniseries (And 5 Ways It’s Worse).
10 Better: It feels more like an episode (or episodes) of Bonanza
Quentin Tarantino has been very open about the fact that the setup and structure of The Hateful Eight was heavily inspired by the western TV shows of the 1960s, like Bonanza and The Virginian. That’s why, halfway through the movie, there’s a voiceover recapping what we just saw.
It’s an homage to two-part episodes of these shows where it would be a week after the big cliffhanger and a voiceover would have to remind us what happened. So, in its new form on Netflix, where it’s been chopped up into four 50-minute installments, it feels more like a short run of one of those shows.
9 Worse: It’s not a whole lot different from the movie
Tarantino has claimed that the new edit has a totally different feel to the original movie: “We didn’t re-edit the whole thing from scratch, but we did a whole lot of re-editing, and it plays differently. Some sequences are more similar than others compared to the film, but it has a different feeling.
It has a different feeling that I actually really like a lot.” But it doesn’t actually feel all that different. Unless you’ve watched The Hateful Eight religiously and know every scene, every line, every twist, every frame, then you won’t really be able to tell the difference.
8 Better: It adds to Michael Madsen’s character arc
In the theatrical cut of The Hateful Eight, not every person in the titular ensemble gets a fleshed-out character arc. We get to learn a lot about the backstory and motivations of Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Kurt Russell’s characters. However, the other three are pretty much hung out to dry.
At least in the re-edited miniseries version, Michael Madsen’s character gets more screen time and a more rounded character arc. We find out more about him and where he’s going. More Michael Madsen in a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino is never going to be a bad thing.
7 Worse: It’s longer
This one goes without saying, really, since it was literally created by adding more footage. But still, The Hateful Eight was already a lo-o-o-o-ong movie. It moves at a slow pace to create tension and that’s great and everything, but still, it takes a long time to get going, and even then, it drags out its biggest, loudest moments to heighten the response we get as an audience.
And again, this is great in terms of cinematic technique. But it was a hefty commitment to sit through the initial cut. It’s a great movie, but it’s also a demanding one. Making it longer will invariably make it worse.
6 Better: It’s more convenient
The problem with The Hateful Eight as a movie is that it’s three hours long – and if you were a moviegoer in 2015, you actually had to go out of your house to a theater to see it.
A number of recent moviegoing experiences have been worth the trip to the theater and the price of a ticket to see them on a big screen: Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception, The Wolf of Wall Street, most of the MCU, and yes, The Hateful Eight. But having it on your TV or iPad or laptop screen with the ability to watch it at any time or pause it at any moment is infinitely more convenient.
5 Worse: It’s not on a big screen
Binging your way through a multi-part story on Netflix is one of the newer and more exciting ways to consume entertainment. But nothing will ever be able to beat the big screen experience. Tarantino was raised on the big screen experience, since his mother would take him to the movies all the time and fill his head with trivia, so no one understands it better than him.
That’s why he’s making movies that are more cinematic than anyone’s right now. His revisionist western set almost entirely in a haberdashery is more exciting and more spectacular than most of the superhero epics being churned out of the Hollywood machine. It doesn’t have the same impact on Netflix.
4 Better: It suits the format of the movie
Like a lot of Tarantino’s movies, The Hateful Eight is split up into chapters like a novel. There are literally title cards that come up every half-hour or so with a new chapter title. Giving the re-edit his approval, Tarantino said, “There was a literary aspect to the film anyway, so it definitely has this ‘chapters unfolding’ quality.”
And he’s right. The format of this movie was to tell a serialized story, piece by piece, but make it all come together within the same movie. It makes us ask questions and wonder about things, but it pays them off in this movie and not four movies down the line. The miniseries format is more suited to this method of storytelling.
3 Worse: It doesn’t add anything new to the story
All of the new scenes that have been added into the miniseries were removed from the original cut because they could be removed. The story still made sense without them and they didn’t add enough to the plot development or the character development to justify being left in the movie.
Now that they’ve been added back into the movie, there’s the novelty of never-before-seen footage, but that never-before-seen footage doesn’t actually add anything new to the story. So, once you get past that novelty and accept it as part of the movie, there’s really no need for it to be there. Upon every rewatching, it’ll feel like filler.
2 Better: It’s a new way to experience a movie we’ve seen before
Any movie with plot twists warrants a second viewing, because we need to see how it plays to an audience that knows the twists are coming. In that sense, mystery stories can work in two different ways – if they’re done right. Fortunately, The Hateful Eight is an example of a mystery story done right.
So, as long as The Hateful Eight warrants a second viewing, we might as well have a different way to watch it the second time around. If The Hateful Eight might not work any better or worse as a miniseries on its own if it had been released that way to begin with, it’s interesting to have this alternative way to consume a story we’ve already seen before.
1 Worse: We don’t really need it
The worst thing about the re-edit is that there’s no real point to it. The Hateful Eight was fine as it was. There isn’t much point to adding in some extra footage and snipping it up into four episodes. On Netflix, you can just watch a movie in four sittings if you want.
Whenever you feel like stopping a movie, you can pick it up later on at that exact point. All the new miniseries really does is tell people with short attention spans when to take those breaks. But before then, they could just choose when to take those breaks.