Tarantino has done it again. In the raging, impatient world we live in, he managed to bring people together in the cinema and keep them spellbound for nearly three hours. No one in the audience looked at their phone because they were completely absorbed in the movie. Tarantino gave us another gem, an ode to the seventh art, without pretensions or tricks.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the most recent film from a director who has left his mark on collective fiction for decades.
When an artist of any kind creates something that reflects what he really feels, you can see this. Today, Tarantino has an audience eagerly awaiting his movies, investing a lot of money to make exactly the kind of movies he wants to make.
He doesn’t care if what he wants to do is “good” or just a fad. He entertains himself with his influences and his fetishes and rewrites history. Tarantino reinterprets something that has already happened, but in a way it might have gone.
Constantly pushing the limits
Once upon a time in Hollywood is proof that not all has been said and that not all commercial films are created equal. It shows the world that there are still people who want to be carried away by a story for a few hours.
The audience thinks Tarantino made this film for himself and no one else. Therein also lies the key to how the story unfolds. Unlike its predecessors, the icing on the cake comes at the end.
Intertextuality is key in Tarantino’s films
Quentin Tarantino learned about movies by watching movies. He immersed himself in the classics, the long-forgotten films and the rejected films. This is his inspiration for his own creations. He shows his audience that art is everywhere.
It was clear from the start that Tarantino fills his films with what he likes. From the music to the constant movie references, watching one of his movies is a peek into the mind and life of the man himself.
Tarantino’s films can teach you about the history of cinema. They can make you curious enough to do your own research, watch spaghetti westerns, or see some old kung-fu movies in one sitting. While doing this you will discover some real gems that the film industry is trying to hide.
Art goes much deeper than what is fashionable or imposed. It also goes beyond politics. Art is a category in itself and has its own value. So if a director you like put out another movie, maybe you should give it a shot.
A big question mark
The trailer for Once upon a time in Hollywood left audiences with more questions than answers. Even die-hard Tarantino fans weren’t quite sure what to expect.
Would the film be about Charles Manson and the murders committed by the Manson cult? Would it be fiction? A tribute to the old stars who fled to Europe in search of better roles? Yes and no. Once upon a time in Hollywood is that and much more.
The movie is full of references. Since it’s impossible to discover them all, it’s fun to talk to your friends about the references they’ve noticed. Everyone’s inherited culture is different, so you tend to hear some messages and not others.
The Golden Age of Hollywood
Even the title refers to one of Tarantino’s favorite filmmakers, Sergio Leone. Two of Leone’s films have a similar title to that of Tarantino’s latest film.
Leone is recognized for inventing the spaghetti western genre. His last film in this genre was Once upon a time in the West. The other, Once Upon a Time in America was supposed to be Leone’s big break in America, but the film was not well received.
There are nostalgic elements in the film from the start. He shows how Hollywood, idealized by actors, becomes a hostile environment that forces them to conform to which roles they get at a certain age. It is a bizarre fable, fantasy and truth at the same time. Once upon a time in Hollywood shows the worst side of the movie industry.
Nostalgia and memories
All this happens in the midst of a well-known and tragic story: the murder of Sharon Tate. In the film, we meet her as a lively young woman, sitting in the audience, watching herself in one of her films.
The public, of course, knows her tragic fate and sympathizes with her. It’s also easy to sympathize with another character, an actor who could be Clint Eastwood, who suffered the effects of aging in an industry that was beginning to work against him.
The film is infused with nostalgia and memories of a glorious era, but it is mixed with the harshness of Tarantino’s daydreams.
His desire to come up with his own version of what could have happened. There is a lot of choreographed violence, like in any other Tarantino film, and a lot of ironies too. Here the violence is beautiful, pathetic and entertaining at the same time.
Sometimes it seems like you are watching two movies at the same time. Two truths or two lies that come together in a surprising, laughable and horrifying ending.
A typical Tarantino ending
WARNING: The rest of this article contains spoilers!
Tarantino has given us a story about Hollywood’s past, a place where dreams come true but also where they just as well disappear. The stories of real people mix with fiction, although these products of Tarantino’s imagination could have easily existed in real life.
Once upon a time in Hollywood plays with what the public knows about the period, especially when it comes to the story of Charles Manson. Tarantino introduces you to the young women of the Manson Family through a well-known song: “I’ll never say never to always.”
But does anyone really expect to see Sharon Tate’s tragic death at the end of a Tarantino movie? No definitely not. It wouldn’t be the kind of violence he likes. It is not aesthetically pleasing, entertaining or choreographed to music.
While Sharon Tate is not one of the main characters in the film, Tarantino plays with obstruction and composition to make the viewer follow her everywhere.
For example, he dresses her in yellow during a busy party. The camera deliberately draws attention to the young woman. The viewer is obliged to empathize with her, to get to know her without too much dialogue.
You get to know Sharon through the opinions of others and the way she treats her environment. Would Tarantino really want to present this lovable character just so he could show her tragic and terrible ending? Of course not. In fact, if you really pay attention, Tarantino already betrays the ending at the beginning of the film.
Tarantino rewrites history
Thanks to a scene that refers directly to his film Inglorious Bastards, Tarantino reveals a little secret to the public. What was he doing in Inglorious Bastards ? He rewrote history and got his artistic revenge on one of the most depraved characters in history. Tarantino killed Adolf Hitler himself.
After that reference, it’s not that hard to connect the dots. No, you will not see raw, tragic and painful violence. Instead, Tarantino rewrites history with entertaining violence. A dance of blood, flame and action.
This film is full of stories that seem unrelated but come together in an eclectic ending. Tarantino is always careful with the details and constantly plays games with the viewer.
Anything is possible in his films, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a tribute to film, an ode to the seventh art, and a perfect example of Tarantino’s ability to tell stories, portray reality, laugh at everything, and above all to enjoy life.
Though the icing on the cake comes late in the game, it’s cathartic, a release for your conscience, and an ode to what it should have been.