Movies/ Mouthing Off/ A Miscellany

Movies/ Mouthing Off/ A Miscellany
Movies/ Mouthing Off/ A Miscellany

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why Westerns? Quentin Tarantino Interview

An interview conducted with Quentin Tarantino in October 2015 as he was putting finishing touches to The Hateful Eight. We talked about his interest in Westerns and some of the cinematic history behind his recent choices.

GL: What about Westerns make them a good vehicle for looking at race in America?
QT: No other genre reflects the decade in which it was made more  than Westerns. In the fifties, when Westerns were at their most prolific, they reflected an Eisenhower ideal. With the turmoil of the late sixties came not just the hippie Western, but the myth-busting anti-Western: films like Little Big Man and Soldier Blue that looked at Native American massacres during the Indian wars through the lens of Vietnam, even going so far as to recreate the Mai Lai Massacre in Little Big Man, and casting an Asian actress to play Dustin Hoffman’s wife. The cynical Westerns of the seventies reflected a post-Watergate America.
little big man.jpg
Little Big Man

In the eighties, there were these little odd one-shot Westerns that had a bit of that hippie seventies influence, like Cattle Annie and Little Britches, and Barbarosa. But they had almost no theatrical release. While the two Westerns in that decade to get a real push were Silverado and Pale Rider: two Reagan Westerns if ever there were. Dances with Wolves, in the nineties, was a return to the seventies-filmed, sixties-influenced Westerns like A Man Named Horse. So I didn't set out to make a blue state/ red state Western, it just happened.

GL: Since Django Unchained was released the Black Lives Matter movement has sprung up. How does that affect the context of your new film, The Hateful Eight?
QT: While I don’t think the Black Lives Matter movement, which I fully support, has much bearing on the story I’m telling in The Hateful Eight, the tragedy in South Carolina and the controversy over the rebel flag lies at the heart of what this movie is about. I’ve always felt the rebel flag was an American swastika. And people who romanticize the Southern Cause and the antebellum way of life are Neo-Confederates. It cut so close to home I removed a line because it made you think of the Mother Emanuel tragedy.

GL: Why the startling absence of movies about slavery? 12 Years a Slave exists, yes, but it was only made after Django Unchained, and largely by British filmmakers~
QT: Americans are afraid to deal with slave narratives because they are too painful. The British did 12 Years a Slave. The Italians did Goodbye Uncle Tom.
Goodbye Uncle Tom

For that matter, you could say Italians did Mandingo and Drum, in the guise of Dino de Laurentiis. Even in the golden age of Hollywood, the only movie set in the antebellum south that doesn’t make you cringe, Rene Clair’s Flame of New Orleans, was directed by a Frenchman.
Marlene Dietrich and Theresa Harris in The Flame of New Orleans
Why do you care so much about using actual 70 mm film?
QT: I hate this digital stuff. I’ve seen 3 films this last week that were ruined, in my eyes, for being shot on digital instead of film. I hate digital projection. To me it’s just like watching HBO in public -- watching television with strangers isn’t my idea of going to the movies. So if I shot my film in a huge crazy expensive format like 70mm, then I’m forcing the distributor to make a meaningful attempt to get it projected in 70mm.
--Grace Lovelace