The strange story of The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino’s latest script has leaked and he is mad.
You have to hand it to Quentin Tarantino. Which other film-maker could trigger Proustian-sized wads of prose about a film that looks likely never to happen (or at least not soon)? Here’s the story. Some weeks ago, Tarantino revealed that, having enjoyed his work on Django Unchained so much, he had decided that his next film would also be a western. He even had a title. Always the reference magpie, QT confirmed that the picture would — in tribute to The Magnificent Seven and, at one remove, The Seven Samurai — journey forth as The Hateful Eight. Now, the business of predicting Quentin Tarantino’s next move has always been fraught with danger. Medieval meteorologists had better luck. Remember that Bond film? Remember the various Elmore Leonard adaptations?
Anyway, it soon became clear that Quentin was serious about this particular project. A lengthy script was completed and dispatched to various actors: Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Christoph Waltz. You may, indeed, have read it. Within a few short days, the hefty screenplay had been leaked on the internet. Tarantino made accusing noises about certain agents for certain actors. Then, with a fusillade of furious epithets, he announced that the film would now not go into production. “I’m very, very depressed,” he said. Futher depression followed. After the Gawker website posted a link to the script, he called his lawyers and set wheels in motion.
“Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck. This time they went too far,” the suit reads. “Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that Plaintiff’s screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood without his permission, Gawker Media crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire Screenplay illegally. Their headline boasts ‘Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script’ – ‘Here,’ not someplace else, but ‘Here’ on the Gawker website.”
Are we up to speed now? There’s not much to say about the rights and wrongs of all this. If somebody gives you a document in confidence you should probably not share it with anybody. On the other hand, once such a document out there, it’s hard to get too outraged about any media source sharing it. In this world, a new Tarantino script does count as news. The suggestion that it’s all a stunt staged by Quentin doesn’t hold up. If that were the case he’d hardly risk bringing in the lawyers.
The story does, however, give us an opportunity to ponder the state of affairs in TarantinoLand. I haven’t read the script. But it’s hard to avoid absorbing hints as to its content. It seems a shame that he is (or was) not moving on from the Western. But I like the hint that it comprises a series of chamber pieces. This is what we’ve been missing from Quentin over the last 20 years. I liked Basterds and Django very much. But we have, maybe, had enough of the grand, sprawling QT (for a while, anyway). He has always been brilliant at those tense closed-in scenes. Reservoir Dogs, still my favourite of his pictures, consisted of little else. If, as suggested, Eight will now only appear as a novel or a published screenplay, let’s hope that he closes down the walls a little for whatever replaces it on screen. Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did a volte face on his volte face. Keep eyes on this space.