The Hateful Eight. The 8th film by cinematic artist Quentin Tarantino. Released on the 8th.
What poetry is this? Once again we are transported to a world of strong and resonant characters, unrelenting violence and perfectly poetic dialogue.
Where to begin with this film? The locations. Set in the deserted landscapes of Wyoming, America, post civil-war. Thick with snow, and just in time for a blizzard, the film opens with beautiful wide-angle shots of open space, panning slowly to accentuate the desolate landscape with only John Ruth’s (Kurt Russell) stagecoach in sight.
The four-seat stagecoach itself is intimate – a wonderful location to kick off the action and hold in the delicious tension that Bounty Hunters Ruth and Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) create and extend to criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and new Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) during their journey. As with many Tarantino movies, heavy dialogue plays its’ part in this film. Eloquent language that you as the audience get wrapped up in and taken away with, the stagecoach journey is wonderfully used as a devise of delving into these characters and learning important traits and historical information that becomes crucial as the plot thickens.
And of course, Minnie’s Haberdashery – the centre stage. One room that contains all of the action for the rest of the movie. A bold move on Tarantino’s part – at risk of boring the audience with a singular location, he masterfully blows this idea out of the water by using action and dialogue that keeps tension and excitement of the audience flowing throughout. The rich reds and deep mahoganies of the Cabin are a stark contrast to the blues and whites of the arctic exterior.
The cinematography of the film is masterful, with long and slow landscape shots to emphasise space and engulf the characters (as I have aforementioned), perfectly framed characters and intelligent use of Motion Blur, with pans and tracks that help to build tension and leave the audience on the edge of their seats. One of my favourite things about this movie is the way that each shot is individually motivated – planned so meticulously so that every little detail that you see is present for a reason.
It’s impossible to talk about Tarantino’s style without mentioning the lack of chronology and use of chapter titles in The Hateful Eight. Chaptered sections help to break up the action of the three hour epic into smaller, more digestible chunks, whilst also giving off a professional storytelling vibe. Not unlike his work in Pulp Fiction (1994), Tarantino tells this story partly out of sequence in order to heighten suspense and give a more rounded, juicy reveal of the films’ final twist.
As you will probably know by now, The Hateful Eight recently won itself a Golden Globe in the form of Best Score, which was written by Ennio Morricone. This was the first completely original score for a Tarantino film, which was composed, orchestrated and conducted by Morricone himself – and includes 50 minutes of original music. In my opinion, the choice to use original music gives a more personal and intimate feel, especially with a Western film.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Tarantino film review if not to mention unconventional characters and unique acting styles. Samuel L. Jackson’s Warren is exactly as you would hope he would be, slick, confident and luxurious, with a quick-witted tongue and even quicker skill with a gun. Russell’s John Ruth is wonderfully arrogant and brash, spouting hilarious insults as he drags prisoner Domergue behind him. Tim Roth’s performance as English Hangman Oswaldo Mobray is wonderfully slimy, irritating and funny – which somehow brings Christoph Waltz to mind. Leigh’s performance as Domergue is applaudable – as an almost reptilian-like villain, constantly half-smiling through her bruised eyes and bloodied nose. In amongst these actors, there is an unexpected appearance from a very popular, typically un-Tarantino-esque actor which both shocked and excited the audience, which was kept very hushed from public promotion.
To sum up, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth feature is masterful, intricate and keeps you on the edge of your seat, regardless to the 187-minute running time. Split into even Chapters, the audience is lead carefully through each scene on a journey that ultimately leads to the demise of at least one of the characters involved. If you are a fan of Tarantino movies, this film will not disappoint. It holds all of the typical features of a Tarantino film, but within a more intimate framework.