Quentin Tarantino promised that he’s only got a few films left in him, but anyone worried that he might go gently into that good night clearly doesn’t understand the man or his work. A Tarantino film is an event, you go into it expecting many things, but most assuredly that it will be different, bold, and (maybe) even meaningful.
Tarantino uses violence, profanity, racism, and shock as tools of his trade. He recently explained to BBC News his use of these elements in The Hateful Eight, “to breathe life into obsolete or dormant genres and make them my own, or even remake them.” That doesn’t necessarily justify the graphic events depicted in each of his movies, but it at least explains at his rationale.
The plot of Tarantino’s ninth film, which is being produced and distributed by Sony, is tackling arguably his most controversial subject yet: Charles Manson and the Summer of Love. These elements are actually part of the backdrop of his main story, which Vanity Fair summarizes:
Set in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969, Tarantino’s upcoming movie, according to a source who read the script, focuses on a male TV actor who’s had one hit series and his looking for a way to get into the film business. His sidekick — who’s also his stunt double — is looking for the same thing. The horrific murder of Sharon Tate and four of her friends by Charles Manson’s cult of followers serves as a backdrop to the main story.”
This is a classic setup for Tarantino: a bottom rung character seeking better days gets involved with events beyond his or her control, and then much insanity ensues. Interestingly, the film does not focus upon San Francisco — where the summer of love was based — but rather Los Angeles and the movie industry, which Manson targeted as the ignition point of his intended race and culture war.
What an incredible set of circumstances for Tarantino to explore. 1969 was an incredibly pivotal and incendiary year in America, for a lot of reasons. The devastating Detroit riots were barely two years old (racial tensions in America remained incredibly high), along with the ongoing Vietnam War, the contentious military draft, and President Nixon — a few years preceding the Watergate break-in. There was also a major power shift in Hollywood, as television deeply cut into movie theater attendance, and the post-WWII old guard was giving way to the next generation of filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese.
It’s within these contexts that the events of Tarantino’s new film takes place. Whether or not the Manson family is depicted in the film is up-in-the-air, but this is yet another major key American historical period that Tarantino will put his stamp upon, which already includes his alternate visions of the 70s, 80s, the Old West, and WWII.
Filming of this currently untitled film is slated to begin next year with an anticipated 2019 release. Tarantino is expected to dip back into his cast of regulars, inlcuding Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Leoardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and also a scrappy newcomer you might have heard of: Tom Cruise.