Movies

Reviewing ‘The Hateful Eight:’ An Essential Classic or Overly Violent Story?

In 2015, Quentin Tarantino returned to the big screen with an American Western called The Hateful Eight. Although the movie received countless accolades, including three Academy Award nominations, some viewers and critics were taken aback by the extremely violent and negative nature of the film, though it was expected from a Tarantino movie. Some may even go further to call it unnecessarily racist and even misogynistic. However, when given a closer look, The Hateful Eight is not all about the gore and angry remarks that are shown on the big screen.

Tim Roth and Walton Goggins in The Hateful Eight. Image Credit: The Telegraph

Set in a post-Civil War Wyoming, the movie is about eight characters stuck in a stagecoach lodge due to a blizzard. While they initially follow the story of Major Marquis Warren, a bounty hunter trying to reach the town of Red Rock, the audience is gradually exposed to other characters, allowing them to get to know each one almost personally. As the weather conditions worsen, conflict gradually brews amongst them, partially fueled by the racism that is directed towards Major Marquis Warren.

To some, the plot may seem boring at first – how can a three-hour movie, mostly set in a lodge cabin be entertaining to the average viewer? Nevertheless, that cannot be achieved without Tarantino’s skilful use of dialogue and gradual exposure of the audience to the characters’ backgrounds. Although the movie is 80% dialogue, the witty remarks and unpredictability of the plot keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. Right from the beginning to the very end, one may want to shield their eyes several times, but it is extremely difficult to stop watching – the sudden plot twists beg the viewer to find out more.

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight. Image Credit: Know It All Joe

Another reason why The Hateful Eight is a movie that is hard to pause is its beautiful cinematography, aided by the use of 70mm film. The shots are given a great depth, especially considering the cluttered interior of the stagecoach lodge. The cool colours not only convey the freezing weather in the film but also hint to the hostile relationship of the eight characters. When not focused on extreme gore and shocking murder, The Hateful Eight is somewhat pleasant to watch.

Perhaps, what makes the movie so negative is the fact that there are no characters that the viewer may sympathise with. Either way, they may be too violent, too racist, too mean-spirited. Even Daisy, who some viewers may find to be treated too violently, is a murderer. What makes this films unique is not the triumph of the protagonist over the antagonist, but rather the fight between the bad and the worst.

Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight. Image Credit: ET

The movie has also been heavily criticised for being too misogynistic and racist – with the n-word being used consistently throughout. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers commented: “Tarantino is a lot of things, but politically correct isn’t one of them. Safe doesn’t interest him. He brings the war home, baby, with all the political, geographical, social, sexual and racial implications we’re still wrangling with today.” Although some may find the content shocking, it is not without a hint of realism and negativity that one can manage to show the social reality at the time, and Tarantino perfectly manages to convey it.

In April, it was reported that a new Tarantino movie would be due in 2019. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will star Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt. The movie will be set in 1969 America with the Manson Family murders as the backdrop and will follow an actor and his longtime stunt double as they seek to find success in Hollywood. Tarantino himself commented that the film will be “probably the closest [film] to Pulp Fiction that I’ve ever done.”

The Hateful Eight may be a film that is tough to love. Its controversial nature is something that can repulse the average viewer and that is understandable – not many people take pleasure in watching violence and gore. Die-hard Tarantino fans can call it a classic, however, to someone just getting to know the director, this film will probably not be the best representation of his work overall.

Featured Image via Letterboxd

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