Quentin Tarantino: Hateful Eight violence 'necessary'
- 8 January 2016
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Quentin Tarantino's first western, 2013's Django Unchained, was his highest grossing film in the USA - and now the 52-year-old director's latest movie, The Hateful Eight, is also set in the wild west, fulfilling his desire "to breathe life into obsolete or dormant genres and make them my own, or even remake them".
Set in Wyoming after the American civil war, The Hateful Eight unites a cast of Tarantino regulars including Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell and Reservoir Dogs stars Tim Roth and Michael Madsen.
It also casts Single White Female actress Jennifer Jason Leigh as the only woman of the eight, while Tarantino jokes that Channing Tatum "interns" for a first part in one of his movies.
Just as Django Unchained attracted criticism, accusing the director of displaying a lack of sensitivity over slavery, so The Hateful Eight is reported to have created unease at early screenings in Hollywood over its race-related language, as well as the violence directed towards Leigh.
However, Harvey Weinstein, the executive producer of the film, has called accusations of misogyny against Tarantino "fishing for stupidity", and Tarantino and Leigh have both been nominated for Golden Globes for screenplay and actress, something Tarantino says he's "thrilled" about.
Leigh plays Daisy Domergue, a captured gangster on her way to be hanged.
Russell, who spent the four-and-a-half months of the shoot chained in handcuffs to Leigh for the plotline, explains that they "had worked out the violence we were expected to carry out on each other carefully".
"When this sort of thing is involved, you need to trust that actor, because if you don't you can't do your scenes properly. I wanted to make it look effortless and it was important that she was safe in my hands, that she could play the part as she needed to."
Tarantino himself defends his script: "The violence is meant to send shockwaves through the audience, to create sympathy with Daisy, but also I have trapped all my characters in a cabin during a blizzard.
"It's a pressure cooker in terms of storyline and you know the way I go; that any piece of outrageous violence can happen. So you're telling me I can cross all the lines with seven characters, but the eighth I have to protect? It goes against the entire plot."
On the race issues in the film, however, with Jackson playing a former Union soldier with a letter from Abraham Lincoln in his pocket, Tarantino admits that "over the last 18 months, many of the themes we were dealing with in the film, we were watching on our TV screens" - referring particularly to the riots that followed the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 by a white police officer in Missouri.
The director's first draft of The Hateful Eight was leaked online in January 2014, after which Tarantino initially cancelled the movie. Now he says he's grateful "that the first draft got out after all, because it's on record that I wasn't writing a script in response to these events happening."
He does believe his scripts have a deeper meaning, saying: "I like masking what I want to say under a story. I think in history, no other genre deals with modern America better than the western. The westerns of the 1970s after Vietnam and Watergate were very cynical, for example.
"Django Unchained did really well and I hope it did reinvent the genre a little, so now we've got two big westerns coming to cinemas - The Revenant with Leo DiCaprio and this one. I've always said if you want to be known as a western director you have to make three of them, so I guess I might have to do one more."
But cowboy shows like the 1960s TV series Bonanza were also an inspiration for the creation of The Hateful Eight; and the film has a retrospective feel throughout, with a three-hour running time, a musical overture from composer Ennio Morricone and a 12-minute interval for audiences.
The movie itself was shot on 70mm film, employing the very lenses used to shoot the Ben Hur chariot race in 1959. (However many cinemas will be showing a shorter non-70mm version of the movie as few venues have the specialised equipment necessary.)
Last year Tarantino announced he might retire after making 10 films - The Hateful Eighth is his eighth, if Kill Bill is included as one movie. Russell, who starred for Tarantino in 2007's B-movie homage Deathproof, believes that it would be a tragedy if he did, saying the director is "in a league of his own".
"You just know within a few frames of this film opening who is directing it.
"Every couple of generations someone comes along like him, and I wish everyone in the industry got a chance to work with him. Trust me, it's a crazy circus everyone should be a part of."
The Hateful Eight is released in the UK on 8 January.