At the weekend I watched the latest Tarantino film, The Hateful Eight, which I had a slightly strange reaction to. It is not that I didn’t enjoy it but rather that I enjoyed it more in retrospect than I did at the time. This is partly because it is a very long film which takes its time, in the way that films used to, and I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next. OK, I was waiting to see who was going to get killed first and how.I suspect it would have been better on a big screen, and I don’t mean just a bigger TV but a really big cinema screen where you can get overwhelmed by the picture. Now that I have seen it I can see why Tarantino was so precious about having the film shown in 70mm-equipped cinemas.
I remember the first time I saw a film that had a decent print on a decent screen. It was Cross of Iron at the NFT and I was blown away just by the look of it. I think this would have had the same effect. Like Cross of Iron it is set in a snowy landcape, which is a rarity with westerns. Westerns set in the snow are about as rare as westerns that feature a beach. Had the film been on a large screen I am sure I would have been more patient with it.
As it is, I am actually looking forward to seeing it again because it will be like re-reading a book where you can just wallow in it since you are not desperate to find out what happens. When I do I think I shall turn all the lights out and get as close to the screen as comfort allows.
Before watching the film I knew very little about it, quite deliberately. I just knew it was a western, but it it actually has elements of a horror film and a whodunnit – both genres where group of people commonly get stuck together in a single place. It turns out that a big influence on this film was John Carpenter’s The Thing and that doesn’t surprise me, but what it most reminded me of was Reservoir Dogs. Not just because it shared part of the cast, but because much of it took place in a single location and so it felt like it could have been put on a stage, although some of the gory deaths would have been hard to do live.