Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Hollywood, late sixties. Famous western action movie actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is gradually, as they say, falling out of the cage. He no longer gets the role of heroes who delight the audience. Today Rick Dalton is invited to films and series only for the role of villains, where his character is kicked ass by one of the promising young actors who are being promoted by the studio. The public already ceases to perceive Rick Dalton as a hero, so now he can no longer see normal main roles.

All this is explained to Rick by the hardened producer Marvin Schworz (Al Pacino) at the meeting. However, as Schworth says, Dalton still has a chance. Italians love to shoot action films with American actors, so if Rick goes to Italy, then there he can again appear in the lead roles. Well, yes, spaghetti westerns, but it’s better to be the first guy in Italy than the last one in Hollywood, says Schworth.

After leaving the producer, Rick becomes hysterical and has to be calmed down by stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Booth has done stunts for Dalton for many years, while also being his friend and, in some ways, a nanny, and at the same time also a personal driver, after Rick’s license was taken away. Cliff has been out of work for a long time, he has no family, and he lives in a lousy trailer.

Booth brings Dalton to the actor’s luxurious mansion located in Benedict Canyon. Some time ago, in a nearby mansion at 10050 Cielo Drive, the fashionable young director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zaveruha) settled with his wife, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Rick dreams of meeting Polanski, because what the hell is not joking – maybe Roman will shoot him in his new film?


You never know what to expect from Tarantino. (As, I note, from the Coen brothers.) Quentin is a great connoisseur of cinema in a wide variety of genres, and for himself he is not limited to any one genre, on the contrary, his films are experiments in different genres and directions.

Of his latest works, I didn’t like The Hateful Eight too much (some kind of strange and drawn-out rewrite of Reservoir Dogs, and even with terrible script holes, which Tarantino hadn’t allowed himself before), but Django Unchained, where one of the roles was played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and “Inglourious Basterds”, where Brad Pitt has a very interesting role – it’s just brilliant!

The news that Tarantino is making Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) about Hollywood in the late sixties, starring DiCaprio and Pitt, aroused great interest. Old Hollywood in general is incredibly colorful, and then there is the iconic sixties, whose era ended with the appearance of the Manson gang and the nightmarish murder of Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife and several of her guests in the house at 10050 Cielo Drive, which led to many changes in Hollywood, and that what was going on around him.

Since Tarantino somehow touches on this topic, I thought, and this was mentioned, then what will it be at all – a thriller? But no, the genre of the picture was declared as a tragicomedy, not at all as a thriller. And what does the Manson gang and these events have to do with it then?

But Quentin wouldn’t be Quentin if he didn’t figure out how to show it all. And it was more than an interesting decision.

The style of the painting is contemplative. It’s not a fighter at all. The film portrays the end of the sixties with great attention to detail in the story of a retiring actor, but at the same time, the fate of Rick Dalton Tarantino himself is not very interesting: he is simply shown as a typical representative of a certain acting generation that once shone, and now I have to give way to the young and act in what I have to.

And against the backdrop of Rick’s story, the film process of those times is shown: how the shooting was done, how the scenes were set, how the directors and producers worked, how the actors were preparing, how the parties were held with celebrities.

Rick and Cliff are antipodes. Rick in the films plays tough, but in real life he is hysterical and slobbery, abusing alcohol and drugs. At the same time, he cannot arrange his life normally and cannot resist completely idiotic acts like marrying an Italian beauty, who will surely knock out a huge gap in his already small savings.

Cliff is calm, confident and really cool. However, something didn’t work out for him either with his personal life and career, so he was forced to work as a nanny for a capricious star, whose career had already sunk.

There are practically no particularly striking events and sharp plot twists, for which Tarantino is a great master, (well, except for Cliff’s visit to the Spahn ranch, where the Manson Family settled, and the events in the finale). This is such a neat cut of Hollywood of those times, which Quentin himself treats with great love, and the director invites the audience to admire this cut. And I immediately remembered the wonderful picture “Long Live Caesar” by the Coen brothers, where Hollywood of the fifties was shown in a similar style.

Interestingly, this picture properly stirred up the seething of all sorts of peculiar characters. Some slightly bruised feminists (I emphasize that I have great respect for feminism as a struggle for women’s rights, but it’s impossible not to notice that some representatives of this movement need to specifically treat their heads) made Tarantino’s claims that he, they say, , brings back the times of machismo, that in the picture, they say, the two main characters are white men, and the character of Margot Robbie has almost no text and she was vilely pushed into the far corner. However, Quentin simply sent these aunts in response to such claims.

And it had to be thought of to blame the infringement of female characters on the screen – Tarantino, who has “Jackie Brown” – a film about female revenge, “Kill Bill” – a film about female revenge, “Death Proof” – a film about female revenge and even “Inglorious bastards” – including a film about female revenge.

Well, the rightists got very excited and began to say that Quentin had canceled the verdict on all this left-liberal shit: again on the screen the main characters are courageous white Americans who will protect the country from all sorts of damn hippies. (In the film, it is true that Rick swears at “those damn hippies”, but under the guise of harmless hippies, the Manson gang operates here.)

What do we think with the cat Bagel about this film? It was somewhat unexpected to see such a film from Tarantino, but nevertheless, its appearance is quite understandable. Tarantino was brought up on many films of those times, he looks at Hollywood of the sixties and seventies through the eyes of a grateful viewer, he tried to state all this in his film. And although the style of this picture differs markedly from the style of many other films by this director (in his usual cool Tarantino style, he only lit up closer to the finale), we really liked the picture: both contemplation, and the way the corresponding era was carefully recreated, and the way how some seemingly passing, but nonetheless iconic scenes are staged: Rick’s conversation with the producer, Rick’s conversation on the set with a little girl and the subsequent shooting scene of the episode, watching Sharon Tate’s film with his participation (I’m sure that Quentin himself watches his paintings), Cliff’s visit to Spahn’s Ranch and the events that followed are really well done.

Leonardo DiCaprio Rica played perfectly: the image is solid, bright, all the facets of the nature of this actor are just in front of you. Who he is, what he is, who he is on the screen and who he really is – wonderfully revealed.

Brad Pitt as Cliff is absolutely amazing. And there are no additional features here: no bright emotions, no specific accent, or anything else, but his Cliff is amazingly convincing and interesting.

Tarantino finally brought these two great actors together – and they made just a wonderful duet!

Margot Robbie in the role of Sharon Tate is unusually good, but here you need to understand well that this is a certain kind of symbol. If you do not know the real story, which served as one of the foundations of this picture, then you will ask idiotic questions from the series “what the hell is she needed here,” as some United Statesn viewers do. When you know what it is about, no questions arise here – especially after viewing the picture.

The film also features a whole galaxy of great actors in cameos, some of whom starred in many of Quentin’s films. There is also a cameo of actors who had not starred in Tarantino before, but it was also nice to see them.

Regarding the episode with Bruce Lee, with which a certain scandal arose and which actually closed the release of this film in China … To be honest, I did not understand at all what all the fuss was about. It looks like someone not too smart launched a statement from the series “Quentin dared to make Bruce Lee an arrogant asshole in the picture and showed that anyone could pile on him”, after which the rest began to repeat this nonsense without looking at what was on actually shown in the picture.

Tarantino grew up on films with Bruce Lee, he respects Bruce Lee, many films with Bruce Lee have significantly influenced Quentin’s work. Uma Thurman wears Bruce Lee’s famous yellow tracksuit in Kill Bill.

In “Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood” it is shown how Bruce Lee boasts of his successes in front of a group of filmmakers (quite, I note, real and well-deserved) and declares that in a real fight with Cassius Clay (that is, Mohammed Ali) Bruce would cripple Clay. Cliff laughs at this and Bruce challenges him to a duel. Nothing special, three friendly fights. Don’t hurt each other, no punches in the face. It’s just who’s going to sit on their ass first. In the first fight, Bruce took on Cliff. In the second fight, Cliff managed to throw Bruce well. There was no third fight, the fight was stopped. Nobody won. What is the insult to Bruce Lee, and even such that Tarantino should be ostracized, I don’t understand.

By the way, Quentin refused to re-edit the picture and remove this scene for the sake of rental in China.

“Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” both looks great and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. And that some viewers for whom “nothing happens in the film” did not understand him – well, it happens that something similar was also written about “Long Live Caesar”.

For me, this is a great film that I really enjoyed. And I will definitely review it again – purely to enjoy the atmosphere and atmosphere, paying attention to those details that I missed on the first viewing.


Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood movie meaning

Director: Quentin Tarantino Cast: Scoot McNairy, Rafal Zaveruha, Michael Moe, Dakota Fanning, Austin Butler, Julia Butters, Bruce Dern, Margaret Qualley, Zoe Bell, Emile Hirsch, Damian Lewis, Michael Madsen, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Timothy Olyphant, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio

Budget: $90M, Worldwide Grossing: $371M
Tragicomedy, USA, 2019, 161 min.

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