The Hateful Eight
was leaked online earlier this year, the Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction
writer and director was so upset that he said he'd ditch the film altogether, vowing to publish the script as a book instead. But then he had a change of heart: If the script - a post-Civil War Western about serving justice - had already been read by everyone on the Internet, then why not serve justice on the script and stage it with the actors who were intended to be in it?
Dubbed a "once in a lifetime event" by event organizer Film Independent, last night's staged reading of The Hateful Eight
sold out the 1,600-seat Theatre at the Ace Hotel, despite the fact that tickets started at $100 and the cast remained a secret until the day before the event, when only Samuel L. Jackson's role was announced via Twitter.
Dressed in a black-and-red embroidered cowboy shirt and a black cowboy hat, Tarantino took the stage in full Western regalia to introduce his decidedly costume-less cast, which in addition to Jackson included Tim Roth and Michael Madsen of Reservoir Dogs;
Kurt Russell of Death Proof;
Denis Menochet of Inglorious Basterds;
James Parks of Kill Bill I and II;
Zoe Bell, who worked as a stunt double in Kill Bill
and Inglorious Bastards
; and Bruce Dern, Amber Tamblyn, James Remar, Dana Gourrier and Walton Goggins of Tarantino's most recent film, Django Unchained
"This is the first draft and that's what we'll be reading," said Tarantino, announcing that he'll be working on a second and a third draft of the leaked script, so that if and when the movie finally does get made, "chapter five here will not be the chapter five" that appears on screen. Instead, he'll restructure the ending of the script, which, in true Tarantino fashion, is broken down into five chapters: Last Stage to Red Rock, Son of a Gun, Minnie's, The Four Passengers and Black Night, White Hell.
Tarantino read the stage directions, which often included elaborate backstories that would never have been seen on film, but served more like creative notes to himself as the director or to the actors and the set decorators. His description of Minnie's Haberdashery, where most of the story takes place, includes a gratuitously long rant about the reasons why this place isn't a haberdashery at all, but could be considered a bar (it serves Mezcal), a restaurant (it serves stew) and a trading post (it trades goods). But above all, Minnie's Haberdashery in Wyoming is a good place to hold up during a blizzard, which is exactly what happens when bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) decides to divert his stage coach and grab a cup of coffee with his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Tamblyn), his driver (Goggins) and his unexpected traveling companion, Major Marquis Warren (Jackson).
In some ways, the minimal setting inside Minnie's Haberdashery lends itself to a stage play. But Tarantino's numerous references to close-up and POV shots and descriptions of the wicked sounds of the wind rattling on the "whore of a door" are a constant reminder of what we're actually missing by not watching the story unfold in "big super Cinemascope 70mm filmed gloriousness," as the stage directions ironically repeat again and again to comedic effect.
We could only imagine how the rapid action shots and Winchester rifle-induced gore would dazzle us on glorious 70mm film, cut to reveal subtle subplots, sleights of hand and tight-framed facial expressions like the one described as "Chris flashes an alligator grin." Aside from a row of chairs and a nearly-invisible chain that tied Tamblyn's character to Russell's, the only prop present on stage was a blue coffee pot that Tarantino seemed to find pleasure in dramatically thrusting into the air any time it was mentioned in the stage directions - which is to say, more than a handful of times.
When Quentin Tarantino's unproduced screenplay for