Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the latest offering from celebrated filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. He blew audiences away in the early nineties with his directorial feature debut, Reservoir Dogs, and followed it up with the even more impressive Pulp Fiction. Since then, the director has come to be regarded as the ultimate fanboy, making the films he, in turn, would love to see. As a result, he's explored numerous genres and paid homage to the best of them.
Now, we can understand his ninth feature through much more than the lens of homage. Tarantino is ending his recent streak of westerns - after Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight - however, arguably the genre will still be integral to the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood plot. The film tells the tale of declining TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and fellow stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they try and break through into the L.A. film scene in 1969. We bet they've seen their fair share of westerns.
Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) March 18, 2019
With these two worlds colliding, Tarantino is likely to explore how much the film industry changed during this time. It was a pivotal point, with Dennis Hopper arriving to change cinema forever with his film 1969 film Easy Rider. The New Hollywood was born and completely transformed American cinema; that's likely to be the director's pre-occupation here. Tarantino is clearly a huge fan of the films of the New Hollywood, but rather than paying homage, we're actually going to see him approach depicting the atmosphere of the time.
Of course, there will be a lot going on in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as it's already clear that the film will touch on the Charles Manson cult, although it's unclear how much of a role this will play in the narrative. At the heart of the narrative, we have two fading players, trying to come to terms with the shifting nature of Hollywood and get in on a slice of the action. It sounds like this is where our story is, and in this sense, the film will be about the New Hollywood. Where Tarantino has subverted history in the past, he's sure to be pretty faithful to cinema history in exploring this drastic change.
Blaxploitation, ultra-violent westerns, taboos, head-films - you name it, the New Hollywood had it. Studio heads needed to adapt and were hiring young filmmakers who would never have had the chance to get their foot in the door before this period. It was a last resort, and it absolutely paid off. So many unique and prominent voices were heard as a result, and directors like Quentin Tarantino - and many, many more - would not have existed if not for this crucial period in motion pictures.
Honestly, it's strange to think what may have happened if the studios hadn't surrendered to the free spirits embodied by the counterculture. We wouldn't be anticipating Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, for starters.
In other news, can J.J. Abrams fix Star Wars?
Have something to tell us about this article?