Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, originally rumored to center on the Manson Family Murders, isn’t really about Charles Manson at all, according to the director. Tarantino is currently shopping the Manson-involved project around to studios after cutting ties with The Weinstein Company amid Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct scandal, and reportedly is trying to attract A-list stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence and Samuel L. Jackson.
The ever-fascinating Tarantino last lit up movie screens with his sprawling winter Western The Hateful Eight, shot in old-school 70MM as part of the director’s crusade to stave off the digital revolution in film projection. Tarantino’s next project would be his ninth feature film, one shy of the magic number 10, after which the director says he will retire from making films (though he might reconsider if given a chance to direct a Star Trek movie). Many were taken aback when it was first reported that Tarantino, who has largely shied away from tackling real-life characters in his films, planned on making the very-real Charles Manson the subject of his second-to-last film.
As Tarantino has now clarified, Charles Manson would not actually be a central figure in new film. During an appearance at an awards-season brunch in support of his ex-girlfriend Sofia Coppola, Tarantino told IndieWire‘s Anne Thompson, “It’s not Charles Manson, it’s 1969.” In other words, Tarantino means his new film to be a larger tapestry of 1969 – and everything that was going on culturally at the time – with Manson only figuring as one thread. This lines up with a previous report suggesting Manson would not actually be the focus of the new film, but would merely be an evil background character, much like Hitler in the director’s war epic Inglourious Basterds.
In Inglourious Basterds, Hitler is turned into a cartoonishly villainous figure who meets an especially grisly end in the film’s climactic sequence, getting shot up with a machine gun by Eli Roth before the entire theater erupts into flames as part of a revenge plot by the film’s Jewish heroine Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent). Though many were satisfied by the thought of Hitler getting his just desserts in this very direct and personal way, some academics took Tarantino to task for playing fast-and-loose with the facts of history, complaining that this sort of revisionism – even if it isn’t meant to be taken entirely seriously – only contributes to our society’s lack of historical literacy.
After arguably trashing the facts of WWII with Inglourious Basterds, what act of devil-may-care historical re-writing does Tarantino mean to unleash upon 1969? The Manson murders, a horrific killing spree that left the entire city of Los Angeles and particularly the film industry enveloped in bewilderment and fear, certainly will be a centerpiece of the new film in one way or another (those who wish to learn more about the real-life Manson Murders might want to check out Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This podcast series on those events). Manson’s most famous victim Sharon Tate will also appear in the film, possibly in the person of Margot Robbie.
Two things you can be sure of: Tarantino’s take on 1969, Charles Manson and whatever else his movie is finally about, will be totally singular and unique; and it will not be to everyone’s taste. Some will love it, some will hate it. That’s the Tarantino way.
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