The Hateful Eight
March 30, 2016
It’s safe to say that at this point in his career, you know what you’re going to get with a Quentin Tarantino film – lots of incredibly well-written dialogue spouted by a colorful cast of characters who only stop talking when sudden, bloody violence breaks out. His latest, The Hateful Eight (2015), is no different, but visually it sees the auteur challenging himself by filming a widescreen western shot in 65mm with most of the almost three-hour running time taking place within the claustrophobic confines of a lodge where eight people that don’t trust each other take refuge from a raging blizzard.
Bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) is en route to Red Rock, Wyoming handcuffed to his bounty – one Daisy Domergue (Leigh), a fugitive from the law. They are trying to outrun a massive blizzard and pick up a passenger along the way – fellow bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) with three of his own bounties (although, they’re dead). The first thing that strikes you about this film is the use of the widescreen aspect ratio as Tarantino’s regular cinematographer Robert Richardson captures the breathtaking beauty of Wyoming’s expansive snowy vistas. These stunning visuals are in turn enhanced by Ennio Morricone’s atmospheric score that goes from ominous to glorious within a few minutes.
Further along the journey they encounter another man by the name of Chris Mannix (Goggins) who claims to be the new sheriff at Red Rock. The four passengers get to know each other over the course of the journey as their conversation sheds intriguing light on the Major and Mannix’s respective backstories. We also get insight into what motivates them as well as Ruth. Only Daisy remains a tantalizing enigma.
Unable to outrun the blizzard, they take refuge in a lodge where they encounter four more people: Bob (Bichir), a Mexican that claims the owner left him in charge so she could visit her mother, Oswaldo Mobray (Roth), a hangman, Joe Gage (Madsen), a brooding cowboy, and General Sanford Smithers (Dern), a former Confederate officer. An already suspicious Ruth is rightly wary of everyone and protective of his bounty because she’s worth $10,000. Nobody can be trusted, especially with that much money at stake and over the course of the film, Tarantino gradually cranks up the tension and the paranoia as everyone’s real intentions reveal themselves.
As always, Tarantino has assembled a first-rate cast that brings his screenplay vividly to life. It takes a certain skill to bring his stylized dialogue to life and these actors do a great job of inhabiting their colorful characters. The excitement in watching The Hateful Eight comes from watching these characters bounce off one another. The film’s lengthy running time gives the cast the opportunity to really delve deep into their respective characters.
The Hateful Eight is a twisty guessing game as we try to figure out who’s not who they say they are and wait for them to reveal their true intentions. The use of the widescreen aspect ratio recalls Sergio Leone’s iconic westerns, especially how Tarantino frames his actors in a given scene. The inhospitable blizzard trapping a group of increasingly mistrustful people within a confined space is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). To make things even more interesting, Tarantino throws healthy doses of racism and misogyny into the mix and stirs provocatively. The end result is a slow burner full of increasing tensions between a mistrustful lot of people each with their own agenda.
Robert Richardson’s absolutely stunning cinematography looks great on the Blu-Ray transfer with fantastic detail and the stunning colors brought vividly to life. Note: This is the theatrical version of The Hateful Eight and not the longer Roadshow Version.
“Beyond the Eight: A Behind the Scenes Look” is standard press kit material the mixes clips from the film with soundbites from cast and crew.
“Sam Jackson’s Guide to Glorious 70mm”: is an amusing and engaging look at the “retro” Ultra Panavision look of The Hateful Eight.