Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: The misinterpreted ending & why Brad Pitt deserves Best Actor
by Laurie Vermillion
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood opened in theatres this weekend with a star-studded cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pachino, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russel, Damian Lewis, Margo Robbie, Zöe Bell and more, but it is Brad Pitt's character and performance that are brilliant. His character, thought to be "behind the scenes" or taking the back seat, weaves the movie together and ultimately becomes the hero.
Brad Pitt plays "the stuntman" for Leonardo Di Caprio's character and adds an especially charming and comical element, especially important as the movie intensifies. Director Quentin Tarantino cast these two perfectly, not only because their characters' relationship can be referred to as "inseparable," but Tarantino captures angles where the two actually look the same.
After viewing the movie, some left analyzing Quentin Tarantino's intentions. Others questioned the movie's ending. Does it have a happy ending or an implicit tragic ending?
It is without a doubt Tarantino's dream of the perfect movie. It has everything he grew up loving, the "Spaghetti Westerns" (like the original movie Django in 1966), and it encompasses every detail of Hollywood in the 60s. He had the director's cut on this movie, and it's 2 hours and 75 minutes long. He literally couldn't even leave out five minutes of detail. Every scene is like Tarantino winking at the camera. DiCaprio is working his charisma again, there's plenty of Bruce Lee martial arts as in Kill Bill, and some Pulp Fiction dancing, all with the ultimate Quentin Tarantino shocking crescendo of blood and violence. So Tarantino fans will love it, and anyone who lived in 1969, will have awesome flashbacks as the details in the movie are impeccable!
The movie first appears to be about a Western movie star (Rick Dalton) played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his fall from fame. His faithful friend and stuntman (Cliff Booth) played by Brad Pitt is always by his side and "along for the ride." Therefore, his success is in the hands of Rick Dalton (those hands that no "movie star can afford to damage," as the tongue in cheek beginning explains).
As it unfolds, the viewer is to understand that every actor's success and fame is in the hands of someone else, most assuredly the directors and the public. We see the need for recognition and acceptance in not only Rick Dalton's eyes, but even actress Sharon Tate's (whose status Dalton had only wished he could achieve). Even though she had been in the famous movie "Valley of The Dolls," she experiences a complete lack of recognition at the box office when she happens upon one of her old movies with co-star Dean Martin. However, when she sees the audience's reaction (acceptance), she feels the validation once again that she deeply needs.
Tarantino entwines the fictional Rick Dalton & Cliff Booth with the story of Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders. The movie is not "about the Charles Manson Murders," but since they have been referred to as "the end of the 60s," it is only fitting that Tarantino would write (or rewrite) this dramatic violence for the ending of his Hollywood movie.
He depicts this glorious Hollywood era in the extraordinary detail as only he can, his Spaghetti Western star receives the ultimate recognition and the "new hero" triumphs against evil.