Film Friday: The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino’s 8th movie is very much in keeping with his previous films – talkie, violent, extreme and shocking. But it also takes its time, aside from the copious buckets of red stuff, it’s not so different from lots of those old Westerns I watched when growing up. And you could say that the inventive Mr Tarantino has done yet again what no one else is currently doing, he’s made an old-fashioned western with grime, guts and gore. A group of unlikeable characters get stranded at Minnie’s haberdashery, and nobody trusts anybody. Gang member Daisy Domergue is being escorted to her hanging, but will she actually make it to the noose?

Tarantino has inspired me for two decades now. Whether or not you take to his extreme styles of storytelling, it has to be said that he is always inventive and creative. He seems to work really hard at getting his story across. The music, the dialogue, the action, the characters, nothing is left to waste. And the prophets of the Old Testament were not unlike that. Ezekiel, in chapter 16 of his book, tells a story, paints a picture, of a woman left for dead as a child. She is rescued and protected, but later breaks free from the safety she has been given. The picture is graphic and the story extreme. There is blood and sex, rebellion and nudity. Seems shocking to say that doesn’t it? But Ezekiel wanted to make his audience sit up. To tell a tale of the rejection of God and his goodness in a startling and inventive way. If you filmed the story it would likely have an 18 rating.

I sometimes wonder whether Jesus’s stories would have been rejected by some publishers as too extreme. At the end of one of his tales, in Matthew 21, rebellious farmers, who murder the landowner’s son, are then murdered brutally themselves. No happy end there. In Luke 10 he tells a story of a traveller who is mugged and beaten. More violence. Like Ezekiel, Jesus was making folks sit up and take notice. Grabbing their imaginations, because his message, woven through his stories, was important. Not to be trivialised. His tales and Ezekiel’s would stick in the mind and be passed from one generation to another. Eventually landing on our doorstep. Daisy Domergue might well have featured in one of Ezekiel’s parables. A hard-hearted woman who rejects the good way and finds herself cast adrift amongst selfish and violent men. The difference with the Biblical epics is that the tales offer a way back, the likes of Daisy Domergue are offered freedom and a fresh start. God’s tales, sometimes shocking, are told to wake us up and offer an alternative.

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