This piece does contain spoilers
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In 2019, Quentin Tarantino released a film that he wrote and directed entitled ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood‘. The film boasted a $96 Million budget, which was largely spent on the star-studded cast of Brad Pitt, Leonardo Dicaprio, Margot Robbie, and other film legends dispersed throughout the movie.
A lot of the budget was also spent in making Los Angeles look like 1969 once again! The film is jam-packed with classic cars, clothes, vintage signage, and unbelievable attention to detail. It should be noted, none of these effects were produced with CGI or animation. Tarantino is absolute in his commitment to reality.
The film’s fictitious plot revolves around the time of the Manson murders in Los Angeles, California in 1969. Margot Robbie plays actress Sharon Tate, who in reality, was murdered by the Manson clan. Leonardo Dicaprio plays Rick Dalton, a fictitious old western actor whose career is in the midst of a decline as the film begins. Brad Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Rick Dalton’s stuntman and sidekick.
The film depicts a clashing of cultures that occurred in Los Angeles during this period, as old-guard western actors were pitted against counter culture ‘hippies’ in a Hollywood that was undergoing a fundamental change.
Throughout the film, Dicaprio’s character is vocally displeased with the hippies, at one point cursing out a car of Mansonites that are parked outside of his home in the Hollywood Hills. His home happens to be next to that of Director Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, whose home was the target of those brutal 1969 murders in reality.
The twist in the ending of this film is that on that fateful night, instead of besieging the home of Sharon Tate, the Mansonites instead decide to attack the home of Rick Dalton. Instead of savagely murdering Sharon Tate, the hippies are met with deadly force from Cliff Booth, Rick Dalton, and Cliff’s dog.
Dalton torches one of the hippies with a flamethrower, and Booth breaks the nose of another, siccing his dog on the pair, killing them.
The movie then ends with Rick Dalton accepting an invitation to socialize with Sharon Tate at her home. A much happier ending than reality, a recurring theme in Tarantino’s work (see Inglorious Basterds for reference).
The deeper meaning behind the events in this film, and their contrast with reality, reveal a profound message about clashing cultures.
Having Booth and Dalton, representatives of the older, more Conservative generation, savagely kill the hippies that committed one of the most brutal killings of the 20th century instead of having them butcher Sharon Tate is a profound statement on the balance of societal influence.
The film is even intent on making the point that the people in Sharon Tate’s at the time of the murder were smoking dope, relaxing, not ready for any kind of assault.
The film is making the point that if there was more of a balance between the ‘old way of doing things’ and the ‘new way of doing things’, that some of the harshest brutalities of our time may have never happened at all. There is societal harmony within balance.
Put into simple terms, the hidden message of this film is this: You can be a doped up hippie, but things will get serious, and when they do, you better have some realists around.
This film is truly a masterpiece!