“The Hateful Eight” was supposed to have been Quentin Tarantino‘s second entry into the Western genre, but upon learning of the script’s leak, Tarantino, like many of our favorite cowboys, was quick to pull the trigger and kill the project.
There is some good news for the Tarantino faithful, as several sites obtained a copy of the script and made it available to read. The script clocks in at a brisk (for Tarantino at least) 146 pages, like many Tarantino films, it’s an ensemble piece, this time set in post-Civil War America. It takes place mostly in one setting, Minnie’s Haberdashery, where strangers (the “hateful eight” of the title) have to spend the night during a harsh blizzard.
The script’s very serious tone represents a departure for Tarantino from his most recent movies. Still, the writer-director’s trademarks are more than evident. We’ve narrowed down the six most Tarantinoan aspects of his ill-fated movie.
Quentin Doesn’t Watch His Mouth
Tarantino loves his curse words, and they show up with full force in the script. Like “Django,” the most-used one is the N-word, which shows up probably a bit less than in Tarantino’s last film, but is there enough to make Spike Lee very upset.
The Characters Are Bounty-ful
“Eight” picks up on a few of the plot points from “Django.” It’s set in a racially charged 19th century America, though “Eight” takes place post-Civil War. Most notably, its main characters are bounty hunters. Specifically, we focus on Major Marquis Warren (most likely Samuel L. Jackson), a black Union officer-cum-bounty hunter who is first revealed sitting on three frozen dead white men, and John “The Hangman” Ruth, who is transporting a dangerous woman in his stagecoach.
Monologues, Monologues And More Monologues
One of the reasons actors love Tarantino so much is that he lets them revel in long monologues, which end up usually being some of the most memorable parts of his movies. There are plenty in the script, though they’re much more dramatically charged than many in Tarantino’s past. Instead of focusing on pop culture — sorry, no Madonna here — characters deliver treatises on frontier justice and Civil War crimes.
Of course it’s very possible that in his next draft, Tarantino would have added a scene where the group deconstructed the sexual undertones of famous 19th century hymns. But now we’ll never know.
Quentin Tarantino does not look kindly on the sins of the past. In “Inglourious,” he punished the Nazis brutally for their crimes; in “Django,” he killed every Southerner he could in retaliation for slavery. The idea of justice plays a huge rule in “Eight,” as the characters trapped in the bar have to atone — violently.
One scene in particular involves a story told by Major Warren to a former Confederate general (a part most likely to have been played by Bruce Dern) about the general’s son, and is brutal in its depiction of absolute, perverted justice.
Chapters Out Of Order
One staple of Tarantino’s filmmaking is his use of chapters to divide his films and flash back and forward through time. “Eight” has five chapters, and while the events actually unfold mostly in chronological order, Tarantino adds “Chapter Four: The Four Passengers” to flash back and tell the audience exactly what everyone’s motivations are, conveniently right before the big standoff.
While the setting and racial themes of “Eight” make it seem like a companion piece to “Django Unchained,” it actually feels much more like a spiritual successor to Tarantino’s first film, “Reservoir Dogs.” Both adopt a more serious tone, and both involve outlaws who need to trust each other while trapped in one setting: the warehouse in “Dogs”; the haberdashery in “Eight.”
Both also involve characters who all might be, secretly, a rat/killer, at least until Tarantino flashes back to prove it one way or the other. Regardless of the reveal, “Eight” gives us Tarantino’s least sympathetic characters since “Dogs.” Everyone — even the people the audience is supposed to be rooting for — has a dark past. Everyone has innocent blood on their hands. Everyone has crimes that Tarantino, in one way or another, makes them pay for, in a finale as blood-soaked as any Tarantino has ever written.
After Harvey Weinstein’s “declaration” that he would stop making so many violent movies, it’s hard to imagine him totally signing off on Tarantino’s frontier justice. Luckily for him, and unluckily for Tarantino devotees, that’s something he won’t have to worry about.