Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is the story of eight different people who seek refuge at a stagecoach stopover in a mountain pass as they deal with a chilling blizzard. Set years after the American Civil War, the film is a western that plays into a group of people who find themselves in a shelter where it’s a mixture of people who are forced to deal with each other despite their differences. Starring Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum, Zoe Bell, and James Parks. The Hateful Eight is a tremendously grand and rapturous film from Quentin Tarantino.
The film revolves a group of different people who are trekking towards a small town in the middle of Wyoming as they deal with a blizzard where they stop and meet an assortment of characters at a stagecoach stopover where there’s a lot of tension looming between eight different people. It’s a film that plays into a group of people who doesn’t just deal with a blizzard that is deadly but also what is at stake as a woman named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is being driven to a town where she is to be hanged for many murders as the bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is accompanying her to make sure that she will die by hanging and collect a $10,000 bounty. Along the way, they encounter two different men who join them on the stagecoach and then meet more at the stopover where something sinister starts to happen.
Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay is set in a very traditional three-act narrative with six chapters as each one doesn’t just play and introduce key characters into the story. It’s also in what is at stake as it relates to Daisy whose bounty is huge as the men she and Ruth encounter either have their own motives in what to do with her or are there for their own reasons that has nothing to do with her. Among them is another bounty hunter in a former cavalry officer in Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) who is also going to this town of Red Rocks, Wyoming to collect a separate bounty of his own while a young Southerner named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) is also going to the town to become its new sheriff. All of that happens in its first act where these four characters meet and ride on this stagecoach where Mannix, Ruth, and Warren all have some background and history where Mannix is the son of a marauders leader who refused to accept the defeat of the South.
By the film’s second act where they stop at this stopover, they meet another group of diverse characters including a Mexican named Bob (Demian Bichir), a British hangman named Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), a quiet cowboy named Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and a former Confederate leader in General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). Along with the stagecoach driver O.B. Jackson (James Parks), these people find themselves inside the house where paranoia and mistrust ensues which includes some tension involving Smithers and Warren where the film’s first half ends with a chilling story from the latter about the former’s son. It is told with such style and detail as it has this mix of dark humor and gruesome imagery. By the film’s second half, the drama and suspense becomes more prominent as it’s not just what is happening inside the house but also the fact that there’s a sense that there’s some people that is going to die. It’s not just who is in this house that is scary but also the fact that there is this blizzard out there. No one is safe where something will break as the third act reveals more into what is happening and who wants what with Daisy being the prize.
Tarantino’s direction is definitely vast in not just the richness of the images he creates but also in the way he sets it. Shot entirely on location in Telluride, Colorado, Tarantino takes great advantage of the locations from the look of the Rocky Mountains to the ravishing attention to detail with the locations as well as the snow which is crucial to the film itself. Notably as Tarantino takes great stock into shooting these locations not just in rich wide and medium shots but also shoot it in a format that hadn’t been used for many years which is 65 mm film stock. In that grand film stock and in an anamorphic aspect ratio of 2:76:1 which was a common format in the 1950s and 1960s that is also similar to the Cinerama process of the times. Tarantino doesn’t just go for images and moods that play into those films of the times with these wide lenses but also brings it back to Earth while creating an intimacy and tension for scenes inside the house.
The scenes set in the house are gripping as it’s small but also has some space where the film stock captures much of the lighting with great detail. Even in some of these smaller moments such as a lone jellybean on the floor or the close-up of a coffee pot. Tarantino’s usage of close-ups as well as some intricate crane shots and some long shots help play into the drama and suspense that looms in the film. The film stock helps with these scenes as well as in what Tarantino does in his compositions in a key scene where Daisy sings a song as she is in the foreground and Ruth is in the background. By the time the film reaches its third act, that is where the violence starts to really take shape. While violence is something that is expected with Tarantino, it is presented with a sense of urgency that adds to the suspense. Especially in the film’s climax where it is about survival and who can out-wit who. Overall, Tarantino creates a gripping yet tremendous film about a group of individuals dealing with themselves and a cold blizzard in the West.
Cinematographer Robert Richardson does incredible work with the film‘s cinematography with its gorgeous yet evocative look of the daytime exterior settings in the Rocky Mountains to the lighting schemes and textures that he uses in the interior scenes as it is among one of the highlights of the film. Editor Fred Raskin does excellent work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and slow-motion cuts as well as creating rhythms that help play into the suspense and drama that unfolds throughout the film. Production designer Yohei Taneda, with set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg and art director Richard L. Johnson, do amazing work with not just the design of the stagecoach where some of the main characters ride on but also the look of the stopover house and its different farms as it plays into this world in the middle of the Rocky Mountains that is remote but also filled with some dread as the look of the stone cross in the film‘s opening scene is also one of the key touchstones of the film. Costume designer Courtney Hoffman does nice work with the clothes from the old military uniforms that Warren and Smithers wear to the array of fur and heavy clothes the many characters wear to deal with the cold winter.
Makeup designers Greg Funk and Jake Garber do brilliant work with the look of the characters such as the facial hair of characters like Ruth and Bob as well as the black eye that Daisy sports. Special effects director Greg Nicotero and visual effects supervisors Laurent Gillet and Darren Poe do fantastic work with some of the special effects as it relates to some of the violent moments in the film as well as a few set dressing for some of the exteriors. Sound editor Wylie Stateman does superb work with the sound as it adds a lot to the film‘s suspense and drama from the way the cold winds sound from inside the house as well as the sounds of gunfire. The film’s music by Ennio Morricone is phenomenal as it bears many of the hallmarks that is expected of Morricone in terms of operatic vocal and orchestral arrangements to the usage of quirky hooks and melodies as the music is a true highlight of the film music supervisor Mary Ramos creates an offbeat soundtrack that features songs by David Hess, Crystal Gayle, the White Stripes, and Roy Orbison.
The casting by Victoria Thomas is wonderful for the cast that is created as it features some notable small appearances from Lee Horsley, Belinda Owin, Keith Jefferson, and Bruce Del Castillo as employees/patrons of the stopover house, Zoe Bell as a stagecoach driver, Dana Gourrier as the stopover house owner Minnie Mink, Gene Jones as her lover Sweet Dave, and Craig Stark as Smithers’ son Chester in a chilling sequence that Warren tells General Smithers to. Channing Tatum is fantastic in a small but very memorable role as a gang leader named Jody who is a man that is full of charm but is also very dangerous. James Parks is terrific as the stagecoach driver O.B. Jackson as one of the few men that Ruth trusts as he deals with the brutality that is the cold weather. Bruce Dern is excellent as General Sandy Smithers as a legendary hero of the Confederate army whom Mannix admires while being aware that he and Warren had an encounter in the past that leads to some very intense moments.
Demian Bichir is superb as Bob as this Mexican who is looking after the stopover house as he is quite ambiguous but also someone that is charismatic while saying some very funny shit that baffles Warren. Michael Madsen is brilliant as Joe Gage as this quiet cowboy who is at the stopover on his way to his mother as it’s a very restrained yet cool performance as someone who could be very deadly. Tim Roth is amazing as Oswaldo Mobray as this British hangman who is the film’s comic relief as someone that is quite energetic but also says some funny things as he is among the group of individuals who is also very odd. Walton Goggins is incredible as Chris Mannix as the son of a marauders gang who is supposed to become a sheriff as he deals with Warren’s presence as well as admiration for General Smithers where it’s a complex performance that is part humor but also dramatic in the fact that he isn’t a smart man but a character that is fully aware that something isn’t right at all.
Samuel L. Jackson is remarkable as Major Marquis Warren as a former cavalry officer who bears the notoriety of doing a lot of killing in the Civil War as he is quite devious in what he does but also understands what is at stake where he tries to help Ruth. Kurt Russell is great as John Ruth as this notorious bounty hunter that likes to do things the hard way where also lives by old school rules as it’s a performance that has Russell be gritty but also someone that doesn’t take shit from anyone. Finally, there’s Jennifer Jason Leigh in a wild performance as Daisy Domergue as this woman who has a $10,000 bounty on her head for killing people as she is a character that is just off-the-wall in terms of the things she says and what she does where she isn’t to be trusted while being just as ruthless and devious as the men around her.
***The Following is a Description of the 70mm Roadshow Presentation***
For audiences who are going to see the film in its 167-minute general release are going to see the film in a more traditional format that is often common with today’s films. Yet, it doesn’t have exactly what Tarantino would want for the film which he shot in a format that is very different from what is often expected in cinema. For this special roadshow presentation which was a common thing for big films back in the 1950s and the 1960s, the film is given a wider scope that manages to capture every attention to detail into what Tarantino and cinematographer Robert Richardson had captured while the sound itself is also just as big.
|Sorry for the bad lighting...|
***End of 70mm Roadshow Presentation Tidbits***
The Hateful Eight is a tremendously visceral and exhilarating film from Quentin Tarantino. Headlined by a hell of an ensemble cast as well as gorgeous photography, grand visuals, eerie suspense, high-octane violence, and a monstrous score by Ennio Morricone. The film is truly an example of what epic cinema is and what it should be in an era where the term is misused while being a western that is very dark and filled with intrigue that is gripping to watch. In the end, The Hateful Eight is an outstanding film from Quentin Tarantino.
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