Film Review: The Hateful 8 Ultra Panavision 70 Roadshow

Tuesday 19 January 2016 by

The Hateful Eight, Western, Film, Quentin Tarantino

“No one comes here without a damn good reason”. I don’t think anybody is going to see this presentation without a damn good reason. Either you’re a huge Quentin Tarantino fan or you’re interested in film projection. Tarantino has chosen to present his latest in Ultra Panavision 70 (his preferred format for the film) hence the lack of screening locations. The last time any 70mm film had any such wide release as this one was Far And Away, twenty years ago. At this point you’re probably asking yourself if QT is a cinematic genius or just pretentious – your call, not mine (tell me your views). In the UK you can only see the film in this format at the Odeon, Leicester Square. You can see it projected as a standard digital screening at some major cinema chains but not others as the film distributors failed to come to an agreement with Cineworld, meaning Picturehouse Cinemas didn’t get it either. At this point, sounds like it’s pretty hard to see but if film projection is not your thing then I think you can safely skip this roadshow version and hope your local multiplex is not a Cineworld.

The Roadshow release of a film is a particularly American thing, releasing the film in a limited number of venues before a big release and with the addition of a programme, an intermission and a musical overture being the main points of difference between a general screening and the roadshow. Forget about the programme, everything in it you can look up online, some info about the format (stay tuned) and some nice pictures. Very flimsy. The intermission however is another thing entirely – welcome in such a long film and it works with the extra footage to add another dimension to the narrative. No spoilers here as I imagine we’ll see the extra footage and possibly the roadshow cut on the DVD release. A large proportion of the audience in the screening that I went to missed the beginning of the second act as they hadn’t bothered to find out that the intermission was only twelve minutes long, it sucked to be them I can tell you and it sucked to be an audience member trying to watch the film. The musical overture was great, a fun lead-in into the film, quite like when an orchestra is tuning up before a performance but of course more polished. Ennio Morricone did a great job with the film’s score throughout and this was a fitting start. The heyday of the roadshow was between the 1950s and 1970s when theatres were trying to get audiences back into the cinema after the rise of television and the widescreen epic feel really works for a western.

As for Ultra Panavision 70: 70mm film refers to the width of film, if you’ve seen the term 65mm being bandied about then 65mm is the size of film shot on and after four sound tracks are added to the print this results in a print of 70mm – the widescreen. Not only has QT chosen to film in 70mm but in Ultra Panavision 70, a very rare format, hence the lack of locations. There are several cinemas in the UK that can present 70mm films, but not Ultra Panavision 70, sorry my fellow Northerners. The film looked amazing in 70mm, absolutely stupendous. Sweeping snowy vistas (and snow in a Western, how often do you see that?) and terrain shots show superbly here. I heard that the Odeon having retired their projectionist brought him back for this one.

The film really stands on its location footage and production design, which is shown off wonderfully in this release. If you’re a QT fan then it’s worth seeing, there’s a whole host of regulars (notably Walton Goggins and Tim Roth and a fun turn from stuntwoman Zoë Bell), sparkling dialogue and a convoluted plotline with some really great narrative devices.

Who doesn’t love a Western? We don’t have enough on the big screen. This format made it look great and as a film projectionist myself I love to see anything that helps the resurgence of the art of projection. See this month’s The Revenant for another snowy western hit.

You can follow Ana on Twitter: @AnaHellewell

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