The release overnight of the first look at Quentin Tarantino’s next film, The Hateful Eight, brings with it a sense of anticipation I don’t think I’ve ever had for a film by the guy. Seemingly able to make any film genre look awesome, Hateful Eight is a gloriously shot film that looks absolutely stunning. Notably, Tarantino is filming this movie using 70mm anamorphic lenses, capable of delivering a super-wide aspect ratio of 2.75:1, which was the kind of frame used on Ben Hur and Mutiny On The Bounty way back in the day, and in doing so has crafted a film that will look nothing short of spectacular on the biggest screens around.
After watching the trailer, there’s a few thing we noticed within it that gave us pause to breathe a tad more heavily – so here are 9 things I loved in the trailer for The Hateful Eight.
Note: the below images can be embiggened by clicking.
One of my favorite shots in a Western is a shot like this – Sam Jackson starts with head bowed, before slowly tilting his head up to reveal his face from beneath the brim – in 70mm this will just look stunning. The snow on the brim adds to the realism that he’s been standing out in the weather for a while. Glorious.
This shot of a carriage traveling away from the camera contrasts beautifully with the river flowing torwards it. Typically, American rivers originate within the mountains or some other inhospitable terrain, so the imagery indicating the nature of the carriage’s journey – towards some inhospitable fate, perhaps – is telling. Plus, I just love the way QT uses the frame’s width to generate emotion like this.
Normally, a three-shot like this would feel cramped – or avoided in favor of a two shot of Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh, before cutting back to Sam Jackson – but with the wide frame it does not. Within a single shot we have the back of Jackson’s head plus the faces of the people he’s looking at, a dynamic shot that allows QT to hold on this to capture the reactions of the actors. Plus, the way Jackson’s hat skewers the line of Leigh’s face, it’s just awesome.
Now, here’s the shot that sold me on the film. While your eye is no doubt drawn to Russell and Leigh in the center of frame, take a quick look to the extreme edges of the shot – there’s an actor sitting at a counter to the left, and two men in the shadows of the corner of the right. The way the trailer is cut you lose the sense of rhythym of the scene, but a later edit indicates this shot could be a slow push-in on the central characters (with Russel’s “Who here will stop me” speech overlaid); we don’t get shots like this in modern cinema, and it’s such a broad, evocative moment to behold when we do.
Bruce Dern. The guy’s a bloody genius. Tarantino frames this shot with Dern centre-frame, a fireplace to the left indicating the warmth of the interior, while the extreme right of frame shows us a window looking out to the oppressive snowstorm beyond. The contrast between hot and cold in this manner indicates perhaps the inscrutable harshness of conditions of the old West, a way of stymieing a quick escape and adding to the tension of being “trapped” inside the cabin. Any way you cut it, this is a glorious shot.
Basically, I love this shot for using the full width of the frame to capture a stagecoach running, backlit by a beautiful sunrise (at least I hope it’s a sunrise). This is cinematographic porn, really.
Here’s another “hat tilt up to reveal a face” shot, this time with Michael Madsen. The deep focus on Madsen’s face, while much of the rest of the shot is out-of-focus, draws your eyes to his, a revealing emotional state dependent entirely on the actor’s ability to provide it.
This shot occurs at the traiiler’s beginning, but it echoes the final shot of the trailer so well I have to have them together. The landscape, a snowy, mountain-backed plateau of America’s high country, with the tiny stagecoach whisking along the ridgeline – man, if this doesn’t put you in the mood for a cold, harsh film, then nothing will.
The final shot of the film is equally as epic, although obscured somewhat by QT’s use of titles to let us know the film is shot in Ultra-Panavision 70; the cabin, a barn, the wooded winter forest behind, and the peaked mountains at the very back, looks gorgeous. Truly, Tarantino and DP Robert Richardson have crafted a film of such singular filmic beauty. It’s a shame many people who watch this just for the “because it’s Tarantino” factor will probably not give a crap.
There you have it: 9 shots in the trailer of The Hateful 8 that got my attention. While there’s people who’ll pull the trailer apart for more story details, and plot ideas, these particular moment stood out for both their beauty, technical proficiency, and artistry. Now, more than ever, I’m looking forward to sitting down and watching this film!
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