Quentin Tarantino, the talented director who is helping Hollywood in keeping a good reputation, amidst the superhero culture, as a platform with his original storytelling and memorable moments. From Samuel L Jackson’s memorable Ezekiel speech in Pulp Fiction to Uma Thurman’s showdown with 88 armed men in Kill Bill to giving Christopher Walken a platform to exploit his talents and subsequently the chance to win Oscar, not once but twice to winning Oscar for best Screenplay twice (Django unchained and Pulp Fiction), Tarantino has made quite an establishment in the last 20 years. No one will think twice before putting their hands on the hateful eight, if they have accepted Tarantino’s directing skills as top level.
We have eight people, as per their respective fates, meet and they are (stuck) together in a stagecoach lodge as the blizzard slowed down the speed of their journey. John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is an eccentric hangman who is taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock for her execution as she is charged with murder. He meets Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) on his way, and Warred himself have bounty worth 8000 dollars with him. After making a mutual agreement to protect eachother’s bounty, Ruth agrees to let Warren share his stagecoach. On their way they meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims that he is the new Sheriff of Red Rock, and asks them to help him get to Red Rock. They take shelter in stagecoach lodge in Wyoming and there eventually, all hell breaks loose.
We see every single Tarantino flavor in this film, chapter division, each character having a nickname, Samuel L Jackson, a damaged character craving revenge, racism, gory violence, a massacre and slow pacing; very slow pacing in this case. At times, eyes may drop unknowingly especially during the initial dialogue sequence inside the stagecoach, between Sheriff, Ruth and Warren. It was unnecessarily long and they should have added fillers to pick up. As always, the setup as per Mr Tarantino’s writing is stylish and artistic, with Jesus Christ’s statue covered with snow shown as a part of the symbolic act and Warren’s entry into the game. Then, we are introduced to each of the characters as per their personality traits and mannerisms. Quentin Tarantino films are always used as case for character depth analysis and for learning story structure. Although the pacing is slow, the built up of events that eventually takes place in the stagecoach is intriguing and you will sit through until the final resolution. It is better to watch this film without any prior knowledge of the story in order to experience the suspense, or else the tempo will end up making one bored.
The hateful eight also faced several backlashes from critics and audience for the presence of intense racism, usage of “N” word, misogyny and a graphic rape scene committed by Warren, the lead character. Tarantino’s films have always explored the social tensions and major issues within the civilization; underworld, gangsters, racism, misogyny, sexual harassment etc. While he shows the death scene in a gory manner with intense anatomical detail, the internalized racism and usage of cuss words are expected. While Scorsese films have the “F” word in almost every sentence, for eg: in the wolf of the wallstreet, Tarantino presents the world of black suppression with the “N” word. However, the fact is that this movie is finally giving out a powerful message concurring with black civilians rights and unity, at the end of the film. Ruth casually mentions that African Americans don’t like to be addressed with the “N” word anymore clearly showing the responsibility of the Caucasians to do their part for proper co-existence in a civilized society, added to that African American have started receiving ample positions and identities of their own. And we see Warren reacting to the racial tensions and at the end one of the character teams with him instead of being part of the genocide team. Also, during the 19 century, that was the condition of the African American community and therefore this film is highlighting that, the “N” word is part of the whole racial culture.
Misogyny is related to those arguments made about the way Daisy Domergue is treated by men around her. She is not a damsel in distress and at the same time as an individual, she does not represent the female majority. Domergue is a racist, manipulative woman with a record of murder charges. She is part of a gangster squad that have killed or tortured people (mostly African American). She constantly kept throwing her eccentricities, insults and racial lines, because of which she gets slapped. She smiles everytime someone dies or when she is hit, highlighting her evil and manipulative nature. The men, as shown in this film, beat her up because they are (in simple words) pissed off with her. While moving towards equality female criminals would not receive leniency, so their actions are understood.
The rape scene is psychological manipulation done by Warren to the man (Bruce Dern), who betrayed and killed many African Americans as a result of his racial prejudice. A rapist can’t be a hero, but the fact is that Warren lied in order to tempt him to reach for the gun and therefore Warren could extract his revenge by killing him in self defense, a clever move by him to avoid the noose. He says clearly “you can see picturise it right?”, thus the graphic rape scene is imagined by Dern’s character (not a flashback). Since the accused, Hollywood is notorious for graphic depiction of rape and torture scenes so it again expected to be there along with the cussing and gory violence, I am totally against this culture owning to the arguments made by many feminist critics.
Samuel L Jackson is fantastic, Tarantino’s films owe a lot to his charismatic presence and effortless performance. Kurt Russell is in his league of standard performance in an ensemble film. We love him due to his loyalty, we despise him due to the eccentric nature but we agree with his ideologies. Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern have strong presence. Channing Tatum has shed his chocolate boy image and improved a lot since his powerful portrayal in Foxcatcher. Jennifer Jason Leigh stole the show whenever she is on and she received a well deserved academy award nomination. You will love to hate Daisy Domergue and is the most hateful character among the eight. Ennio Morricone’s music and Robert Richardson’s cinematography provided the suspense and mystery feel, thus we are in the mood of the film.
The unnecessary pacing is a huge setback, and other than the depth of the characters and powerful message at the end; this film lacked the perfect story compared to Tarantino’s previous films, even then it is a good watch for film lovers and, a must watch for Tarantino fans.
Strong R rating is advised.
Featured image: alphacoders.com