ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
The movie invites a reflection on the conversation between literature and cinema—their respective narrative tools, their common agenda. Their mutual inspiration. Creative and ingenious kindred spirits.
The title has a programmatic ring in that regard: the formulaic opening of the fairy tale coupled with the evocation of the iconic cradle of cinema.
Hollywood: the place where literature morphed into film, perhaps.
Once upon a time tales began and ended.
Once upon a time characters were born and died.
Once upon a time plots were done and undone.
Once upon a time lines were written, and uttered or forgotten.
Once upon a time the world was a stage, the stage was a world.
Once upon a time images and words competed for power.
Once upon a time dreams and nightmares wove in and out of reality their texture of emotions and desires.
A number of literary texts appear: Tess, a biography of Walt Disney, a dime novel, Hamlet. Some of them gesture toward tragedy, others to comedy. Connecting the dots between the two, perhaps.
Hamlet is conjured up in Dick’s soliloquy in his lodge:
The loneliness and the actor’s insecurity,
1960’s countercultural ideals and icons haunting the dreaded ghost, maybe…
Enter Parody and Satire, and Elizabethan fools.
Of note: the voice over, and the precise chronology with dates and times, like a well-rounded play. A drama unfolds to reach a climax, with a witty punch-line, an open-ended finale, and a reversal: terror and horror provides the unexpected opportunity Dick has been dreaming of…
The precise evocation of 1969 Hollywood: its icons and revolutionary spins.
The music, movies, television series and shows of an era that spawned Hippy culture and the Vietnam War.
Playing with the viewer’s expectations about suspense:
Hitchcock-like moments (Sharon at the movies, we expect something bad to happen to her), the car on the road, the trip to the ranch, and the encounter with a blind man that watches his favorite show every evening.
Rehearsing the grotesque mode on screen:
Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove in the scene with the Germans?
The Coen Brothers’ Burn after Reading or Fargo?
Tarantino’s own films?
Violence laced with comedy, and the other way around.
How to become a hero on screen or on the page?
The importance of readers and viewers.
The communal act of making a movie, and watching it.
The narrative voice: who gets to tell the tale.
Once upon a time the story of film as a lieu de mémoire—a site of memory bodying forth Scheherazades for our era.