Almost three decades after his first appearance, Quentin Tarantino is back with his 10th written and directed film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Over 165 minutes, Tarantino recaptures every aspect of Hollywood in the sixties. His explosively funny (and bloody) take on multiple events has, once more, proven to be wildly successful. Nevertheless, Tarantino is a particular flavour that many people lack the taste for. But even so, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is artistically crammed full of incredibly precise detail and reaches into the deepest corners of cinematographic and creative talent. Having worked on a total of 16 films, of which he directed ten and wrote 12, Tarantino has taken up the unspoken challenge of intertwining each film as profoundly – and subtly – as possible.
Recycle and Recast Tarantino tends to cast and recast. Leonardo Dicaprio, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth (cut from the final film), and Michael Madsen all return for this new production, effortlessly fitting into the cast and story. While regulars Bruce Willis and Uma Therman are missing, both their daughters, Rumer Willis and Maya Hawke, make an appearance. Stunt coordinator Zoe Bell, who first worked with Tarantino on the set of Kill Bill as Uma Thurman’s stunt double, now appeared in the film as the wife of Randy (portrayed by Kurt Russell) who acted as the stunt coordinator for Dalton’s newest film. Bell, despite her real-life inclinations, is shown outraged at Booth for getting physical with one of her actors. If that doesn’t speak for Tarantino’s flair for dramatic irony, what does?
A Violent Streak Tarantino has always approached violence with a dark sense of humour, despite constantly receiving backlash and complaints about the excessive violence in his films. Before brutal scenes in OUATIH, Tarantino takes the opportunity to install a conversation among the group of Manson Family attackers, depicting how a young audience who grows up watching violent characters are compelled to blame television for the onset of violence in their own lives. After recognizing Rick Dalton, an actor at the forefront of these damaging films, they decide it would be sensible that they begin their killing spree by targeting Dalton himself. In a real-world interview, Tarantino proclaimed that “the bottom line is I’m not responsible for what some person does after they see a movie. I have one responsibility. My responsibility is to make characters and to be as true to them as I possibly can.”
It’s in the Detail Nevertheless, even the anti-violent audience has to admit that Tarantino has a carefully honed skill of inserting intricate details which only real film fanatics could appreciate. Red Apple Cigarettes, which are smoked almost constantly throughout the 2 hours and 45 minutes and are featured in the post-credit scene, have shown up in Mia Wallace’s hands in Pulp Fiction, are featured on a billboard advertisement in Kill Bill, and smoked by John Ruth in The Hateful Eight. This is also reversed as Big Kahuna Burger, a commercial brand that was Brett’s last meal in Pulp Fiction also appears on a billboard in OUATIH.
Tarantino also draws on small details from real-world events, despite his straightforward alteration of essential proceedings. On the evening of the murder, we see the sheet music for the song “Straight Shooter” in the Tate-Polanski residence, papers that were found on the piano in the real-world case when the bodies were first discovered at home. Margot Robbie, portraying Sharon Tate, who worked closely with the Tate family to prepare for her role and was even given some of Sharon’s jewelry to wear for the film by Sharon’s sister Debra.
Outside the Tarantino World Tarantino manages to bring in his personal favourites, ensuring that hidden significance can be found in every decision. The biggest of this in OUATIH occurring as Dalton and Booth share a couple of beers over one of Dalton’s western productions. Tarantino recreated scenes from a real western television show, Lancer (1968-1970), to use as the filler scenes that the two are watching on their TV set. This adds even more to Dalton’s character as Lancer was a rip-off of the show Bonanza (1959-1973), which ran on NBC for 14 seasons. Not only is Dalton not good enough to make it on the big screen in the film itself, but he didn’t even manage to make it into a quality show upon entering the Tarantino universe.
Before the dark turn of events, Tate and her houseguests are going out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant El Coyote. Before entering, Tate points out a porn movie premiere further down the street, likely placed in Eros Theatre. At the time, Eros Theatre was around the corner of El Coyote, but today it is the New Beverly Cinema owned, of course, by Quentin Tarantino.
Finding His Footing Is it evident to anyone who has ever seen a Tarantino film, and as discussed above, the filmmaker has a very distinctive approach. So much so that it perhaps may be impossible to analyze all of his decisions through and through thoroughly. And yet one of his quirks have been brought up over and over again; what is up with the all the feet? From sucking toes in Dusk Till Dawn to foot massages in Pulp Fiction, OUATIH does not fall short on its own uniquely tailored foot scenes. The most obvious one being when Manson Family member Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) throws up her dirty, bare feet onto the dashboard of Booth’s car, pressing them against the windshield, right in the middle of the frame.
Many have tried to understand the mystery, but the single answer seems to be clear: Tarantino has a slight foot fetish. This might be difficult to believe, as it is to(e)tally out of character to have such a straightforward explanation for such an eccentric man but, you never know, maybe something else is afoot.
The Manson Family Charles Manson, a drifter, born in 1934, led the Manson Family Cult, consisting of approximately 100 followers who were mostly young women. The so-called family lived together on Spahn Ranch, 55 acres, which had been used as the setting for many Westerns. They were regular LSD users, probably why they had no problem believing that Manson was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ and accepted his ideas of impending race war (which they would, of course, avoid by living out the duration underground). Alongside his gig as the cult leader, Manson pursued a career in music. This led him to befriend the Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson, through whom he was able to audition for music producer Terry Melcher. Despite his connections and the audition, Melcher, at this time living at 10050 Cielo Drive, refused to offer Manson any record deal. By 1969, the villa on Cielo Drive was occupied by Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski.
On August 8, 1969, Tate, almost nine months pregnant, was staying at home with friends Jay Sebring, Wojtek Frykowski, and Abigal Folger. Manson Family members Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Tex Watson broke into the house while Linda Kasabian acted as the lookout. They shot and stabbed everyone on-site, despite Sharon’s begging to keep her alive until her child could be born. Atkins later admitted that the house was picked to instill fear in Terry Melcher for not following through on his word about many things, presumably including some sort of sweet deal with Manson. The next night, Rosemary and Leno LaBianca were also killed.
Manson and other family members – including Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Watson – were convicted of the Tate-LeBianca murderers in 1971. Later, Manson was also convicted for the murder of music teacher Garry Hinman (who had introduced him to the beach boy drummer) and Donald Shea. Shea was an employee at Spahn Ranch, murdered on the property in August 1969 by Steve “Clem” Grogan, who in the film was depicted as the man who stabbed and deflated Booth’s tire.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After Or did they? “Once Upon a Time” is a phrase that has been around for centuries and, precisely as it implies in this title, the film is a fairytale. But not the traditional kind. Tarantino’s lack of sincerity and knack for irony crafts a narrative filled with magic but no morals. In the real world, Manson enticed his followers to murder eight innocent people, leaving an extensive network of family members devasted by the loss of their victimized loved ones. In the Tarantino Universe, fictional character Cliff Booth leads the over-the-top, savage acts of self-defence, which instead kill the murderers and protect the innocent lives of 10050 Cielo Drive. His drastic alteration of historic events shifts the story to end on a hopeful tone, as Sharon Tate remains safely tucked away behind the tall iron gates of her home.