In a time where movies are either awards hopefuls cobbled together with duct tape or overblown CGI slugfests that serve merely as advertisements for toy lines, it often seems that the modern American auteur is all but dead.
While a handful of modern directors remain above-the-title brands, few elicit nods of appreciation from critics, serious cinephiles and fans alike as Quentin Tarantino. He’s spent 23 years so far proving that “period piece” needn’t equal boring, that action movies are far from a young man’s game, and that seemingly passé qualities like writing, story and characters are paramount on screen. The Hateful Eight is a ballsy, hilarious, talky and blood-soaked romp that proves the enfant terrible who got his film education in a Manhattan Beach video store had plenty of lead in his pencil yet, digital be damned.
What does using 70mm do when it comes to the actors? It seems very intimate.
You’ve actually kinda answered your own question. One of the tricks that I thought about was the intimacy that it provides you in between close-ups. I’ve shot a lot of close-ups of this man right here [points to Samuel L. Jackson], but I’ve never shot him as beautiful as I did in this movie. I think you find yourself taking backstrokes in his eyes.
When it got reported that I was going to do it in this format, people were like “Oh, yeah. That sounds really great, but why would he do it for a thing that’s set so far back?” That’s not very profound thinking when it comes to 70mm, that it’s just basically for shooting travelogue or shooting mountains scenery or nature and stuff.
I felt that, especially in bringing it to Minnie’s Haberdashery, 70mm film is suspenseful, i.e. the pressure-cooker situation of what’s going on in the movie. If that’s not part of it, if the threat of violence and the pressure-cooker situation, if the temperature isn’t always getting up a notch every scene or so, then the movie’s going to be boring, it’s not going to work. I actually felt that the big format would put you in Minnie’s Haberdashery. You are in that place. You are amongst those characters. I thought it would make it more intimate when I got in close with them.
But the other thing I thought would be very, very important is there’s always two plays going on in this movie, once you’re in Minnie’s in particular. There’s the characters that are in the foreground of any given scene, and then there’s the characters in the background. You’ll always be having to keep track of where everybody is. It’s like they’re pieces on a chessboard. You always have to see them.
So maybe it might be Chris Mannix and General Smithers who are dealing, but you’re also clocking Joe Gage at his table and you’re clocking John Ruth and Daisy at the bar. That becomes important, unless I want to cut them out and not show it to you. I think that helped ratchet up the tension as things went on.
Doesn’t 70mm also mean you have shorter takes because the magazines are shorter?
Panavision came up with a 2,000-foot mag, so we were able to shoot for 11 minutes at a time. I can’t even imagine doing this material if we had to break it up in four minutes go’s. We had to do it like that. The Weinsteins were very generous with me, so I didn’t have to dole out the footage in a certain way.
wasn’t completely cavalier about it, but I didn’t really change my shooting style for it. That wouldn’t have been the idea, to completely change my shooting style. I shot the way I wanted to shoot.
However, the only real disadvantage that I felt at the time, that I don’t feel now, was we weren’t able to get a zoom lens, and I’ve really gotten used to using a zoom lens and the little zoom creep. I’ve really gotten used to that. But actually, that was also a kind of nice thing, to be forced to not be able to use all the tools that you’ve gotten used to and be able to work a little different.
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