Re- Writing History With Quentin Tarantino
By Thomas Hoffman
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s latest emotional rollercoaster. Like Inglourious Basterds, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood provides a fictional twist on historical events. Unlike Inglourious Basterds, which has you on the edge of your seat for every minute, Once a Upon a Time does not take you to the edge of our seats until the ending climax.
Spoiler Alert: For Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
There is controversy over this movie’s ending. Tarantino rewrites history. The infamous night of August 1969 is altered. Sharon Tate and her friends survive. Tarantino arranges for members of the Manson cult to break into the wrong house, and up meeting their demise in a semi-comical way. The Wrap refers to Once Upon a Time as a “shameless self-insert fantasy.” The Wrap (and some critics) dubs Once Upon a Time as “by far Tarantino’s most immature film.” Like the movie or not, it deserves better reception than that. Family Guy is immature. Once Upon a Time may be politically incorrect, it may be unusual but it is not immature by today’s standards.
Once Upon a Time is indeed “self-insert fantasy,” but it is not shameless. Like Inglourious Basterds, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is essentially a propaganda movie. It is immature and unrealistic, though not as unrealistic as Inglourious Basterds, as all propaganda is.
In the movie Saving Mr. Banks (a far more family friendly film, about a much more upbeat story, ironically also set in Hollywood), Walt Disney points out that creators use their imagination to fix the wrongs in our lives, and correct what should have been. End the story the way the story should end. While Quentin Tarantino is no Walt Disney, this was no Disney story. The twist on historical events is indeed controversial but Tarantino not intentionally being disrespectful, he was trying to use his imagination to set the wrong right.
If only Adolf Hitler and a theater full of sympathizers was in fact engulfed with fire and bullets, after receiving a message of doom from a lone survivor of an SS massacre. If only Tex Watson and his fellow Manson “family” members did in fact walk into the wrong house that night in 1969, and ended up being the ones meeting a gruesome end that night. If only Sharon Tate and her friends had survived that night and spent the night comforting “slightly shaken neighbors.”
When I saw this film, when the Manson followers met their demise, the audience was not laughing. The audience was not offended. The audience was applauding. Once Upon a Time delivers the “happily ever after” we the public were deprived of in real life.