The Patriotic Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight plied my senses with a barrage of dialogue and incomparably beautiful photography. What will be said about this most self indulgent of all Tarantino’s films I wonder? Thinking about what Quentin has wrought I recall a Kurt Vonnegut quote:
“I say of Jesus, as all humanists do, ‘If what he said is good, and so much of it is absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not? But if Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be human. I’d just as soon be a rattlesnake.”
This is easily the longest of Tarantino’s films and his most patriotic. It’s appears almost apologetic for all the aspects in Django that had offended so many. But of course this is Tarantino I’m speaking of and an apology is apt to be more insulting and demeaning than initial offense.
For three hours I watched the cast of Eight talk circles around one another and then inevitably the blood did spill and splatter. There were one or two moments that even I perceived as irredeemable. This is as visceral and over-the-top violent a film as any he’s made. Blood flows, explodes through exit wounds and spills over snow, scenery, fabric and cast. There are no heroes, no winners and no clear morals. What there is however is an intense personification of America.
America according to Quentin is a country built of unspeakable violence, ruthless brutality and audacious lies. And yet… Through all that, somehow, it represents a set of values worth living and dying for, in this case most definitely dying for… That is the core of the film and the thing that makes me think of Vonnegut’s wonderful humanist quote. In his own way QT seems to be inviting us to acknowledge all the outrage, all the blasphemy that this great country is built on and to do so without surrendering the naive set of values and ideals America still somehow represents. Is it all a lie? Perhaps, but it’s a lie worth sustaining. In a post Ferguson, post San Bernardino and very much still Donald Trump year this is a film that can be regarded as a call to recognition and reconciliation of all that this country is, a gallery of rogues, liars and opportunists who manage to do the right thing once they’ve exhausted all other options. But most likely folks will just say it’s too long and too bloody.