The last time Quentin Tarantino made a film about a famous historical event, he rewrote history. Might he be doing the same thing with the 1969-set Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? The original story follows an aging Western TV star named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his easygoing stunt man Cliff (Brad Pitt) as they struggle to navigate a changing Hollywood, but their story also intersects with that of then-“it girl” Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. Tate was brutally murdered in the summer of 1969 (when the film takes place) and now Tarantino has written an open letter asking audiences at the Cannes Film Festival not to spoil the film’s surprises for folks who won’t see it for another two months.
Indeed, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will have its world premiere at Cannes this week, on the 25th anniversary of when Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction won the Palm d’Or at the same festival and jump-started a serious awards campaign. But Tarantino has released an open letter asking Cannes audiences to keep mum:
I love Cinema. You love Cinema. It’s the journey of discoverying a story for the first time.
I’m thrilled to be here in Cannes to share Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood with the festival audience. The cast and crew have worked so hard to create something original, and I only ask that everyone avoids revealing anything that would prevent later audiences from experiencing the film in the same way.
Tarantino famously rewrote Adolf Hitler’s ending in Inglourious Basterds, in graphic fashion, and it worked tremendously well. Might he be changing major historical events in Hollywood? What other reason could there be for asking not to reveal “spoilers” about an original movie set in Hollywood? Will Sharon Tate survive? Will Rick and Cliff come to the rescue against members of the Manson cult—who are confirmed to appear in the film?
Or perhaps Tarantino just wants audiences to experience Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as fresh as possible, which is fair. A similar spoiler warning could have been issued for The Hateful Eight, which has its own major twist at the end of the film, and indeed spoiler culture has gotten even more unwieldy since that movie hit theaters.
Whatever the case, I remain excited to see what Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has in store for us (friendly reminder that Tarantino has yet to make a bad movie) and hope Cannes audiences stay true to Tarantino’s wishes.
Check out Tarantino’s letter below.
— Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (@OnceInHollywood) May 20, 2019