Yes Yes! I know I am late but you know I had to watch this film three times before writing about it just because of the reputation (of course Tarantino’s not mine).
The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s message to the audience that thinks he has shown too much brutality onscreen. Watch this and you know he is not satisfied yet. The message is loud and clear; don’t bother to come to the theatre next time if you are faint hearted.
This time the Wild Wild West is fully covered by white snow and the red color of blood is in perfect contrast. The very first scene, the camera moves very very slowly from an extreme close up of a wooden crucified Christ to capture the snow around and in that all white frame (except the black wooden Christ), appears a dark stagecoach and you know what to expect.
After the introductory scenes of four out of eight hateful characters (I am not counting the stagecoach driver) the story remains confined to a single cabin. All the talks and actions happen in that cabin only. Set in the just concluded Civil War era, we have with us, John Ruth (Kurt Russel), a bounty hunter whose glory is in calling himself ‘The Hangman’ (he enjoys watching the fugitives caught by him hanging by the neck), his driver O.B. (James Parks); his prisoner Daizy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is being escorted to Red Rock for hanging; the hard to trust Red Rock Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who has not joined his duty yet; and Major Marquis Warren (Tarantino’s regular Samuel L. Jackson), an ex-slave turned war hero turned bounty hunter who has a bad reputation for his war-time atrocities. In the cabin, already present were Bob (Demian Bichir) a Mexican and the temporary caretaker (as the owners Minnie and her husband are mysteriously missing); a former confederate General (Bruce Dern); a British (Tim Roth) claiming to be the hangman; and a constantly lying man Joe Gage (Michael Madsen). They were later joined by Channing Tatum (in a short role).
Everyone seems lying and no one trusts the other. All these people are not completely strangers and some of them know each other by their reputations (obviously bad ones). There is not a glimpse of good, moral, and civil or any other such good words. When there are no gunshots, the brutalities are displayed in words, and trust me the talks are more venomous, brutal and disturbing than the gunshots. When Major Marquis Warren explains in detail how he killed the General’s son, I am sure any healthy mind would be filled with disgust and filth for the Major. But the beauty is he is on the right side of the law in this particular setup. Without bringing the law into context it’s impossible to decide who is doing the right thing. And even after bringing the law into the picture, you will not be convinced who is doing the right thing because there is no concept of right, here in this cabin.
The brutality shown to women in this film and the shameless creepy laughs and disturbing visuals after shooting someone in the head is pure perversion. Every single character is loathsome. If you want the details go and watch it yourself because in telling this story I feel like I am one of the characters (I am a bit apprehensive but it’s true, I thoroughly enjoyed it)
But after all it’s a Tarantino film and he succeeds in creating the exact environment that was required. I am sure he would understand that I am actually complimenting him for showing exactly what he intended to. This is what makes him Quentin Tarantino. No doubt why some critics are even questioning Tarantino’s own morality after watching this film and calling him immoral, perverse and misogynist.
The characters are interesting but the story binding these characters is not there. The imaginativeness of Django Unchained is missing and so is Christoph Waltz (I missed him so much). Over dependence on dialogues rather than the story proves to be a faulty premise and very unlikely Tarantinoesque. The cinematography is top notch. Tarantino actually convinced his cinematographer, Robert Richardson to shoot in Ultra Panavision 70mm, a format that has barely been used since 1960’s.
I would recommend our Indian filmmakers to learn just one thing from this film, the use of background score in telling a story. It’s superb and I would say it’s one of the major characters in this film.
I say it again I missed Christoph Waltz so much in this film. Maybe his morality did not allow him to become one of these degenerates.