Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — How Tarantino Directs Suspense [Director’s Playbook]

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — How Tarantino Directs Suspense [Director’s Playbook]

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In this Once Upon a Time in Hollywood analysis, we’re going to look at how Quentin Tarantino directs one of the most suspenseful scenes in the film. Using a number of techniques from Tarantino’s bag of tricks, he crafts a scene that recalls some of his greatest influences — Sergio Leone and Alfred Hitchcock.

We’ve seen suspense sequences many times before in Quentin Tarantino movies like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hateful Eight. In this Once Upon a Time in Hollywood scene, he brings that same level of “Quentin Tarantino filmmaking” to the moment Cliff Booth arrives at Spahn Ranch.

After his Oscar win, we are reminded that Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a performance worth studying. In this scene, Cliff is highly suspicious of these individuals who have taken residence at Spahn Ranch — and all he wants is to make sure his old friend, George, is alive and well. But that journey from his car to George’s house is chock full of suspense.

Using directorial choices like POV shots, breaking the 180-degree rule, shot composition, editing and sound design, Quentin Tarantino brings his A-game. In this Once Upon a Time in Hollywood analysis, we’ll dig deep into the scene to see how he brought all of these elements together to create one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

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