It’s that time of the year again: movie aficionados all over the world scramble to watch the movies nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. I have to admit I’ve only seen a couple of the contenders so far, but The Hateful Eight was one of them.
I did manage to catch an English showing of The Hateful Eight, because there was no way I was going to watch a crappy dubbed German version of it, but I didn’t get to see the 70mm version. If you haven’t been following movie news, Tarantino, in an effort to put all other movie nerds to shame, filmed The Hateful Eight in Ultra Panavision 70, a format that hasn’t been used for decades, which basically means that you get a wider and much more detailed image. Since most cinemas don’t have the equipment to show the movie in this format, there was (is?) a roadshow featuring the movie in its original format and in a slightly longer version. Since I couldn’t go, I can’t say whether it’s worth it, but I have to admit the whole procedure of dressing up and making a proper night out of it appeals to me. Plus, I imagine you get to be pretentious and wax poetic on the vivid colors and crisp image of the movie in Ultra Panavision 70, as opposed to the much inferior digital version, while gesticulating with your wine glass. Ah, one can dream.
The technical production of the movie isn’t the only thing reminiscent of times long past though. At about three hours, the movie is longer than most current films, and it is divided into chapters. At first the intertitles threw me out a little, but as the movie goes on, they brake the plot up nicely. About a third into the movie, we’re suddenly confronted with a narrator, which comes as a surprise, but is actually quite entertaining and helpful. Even though the movie is fairly long compared to current standards, it never starts to drag, because there’s always a certain tension and suspense that keeps it from being boring. As can be expected, the actors are all top notch and – even in the digital version for philistines I watched – the cinematography is great.
I think the plot can be best described as Agatha Christie meets Western. We have the typical secluded location, where a group of diverse people are gathered and no one is to be trusted. It’s clear that something’s up, but it’s not quite clear what happened and who did it and why everyone suddenly dies. Of course there’s the typical Tarantino violence and blood spurting too, so fans won’t be disappointed. I can’t say I liked any of the characters, but some certainly grew on me despite my better judgement. I’m not going to spoil any of the twists, but suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself and that I think The Hateful Eight is a successful tribute to cinema history and lives up to Tarantino’s reputation. I was never bored or wished that the movie was shorter and I wouldn’t be mad if I had to watch it again. All in all, a definite recommendation.