Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

A superficial glance will see a simple and brutal explanation of the film: a massacre in the house of a Hollywood actor, a sea of ​​blood, furious enthusiasm and a “cherry on the cake” – a flamethrower. In general, the usual Tarantino set. However, by the middle of the picture comes the realization that Quentin is not as simple as it seemed. And the ending sums up the genius of the director.

There is no single meaning of the film: in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, several main storylines are intertwined. The first thing we see is the real friendship of two mature men. Actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth complement each other both during the filming process and in life. The next plot layer is the fading of the activity of the “golden age” of Hollywood in the person of Dalton and the beginning of New Hollywood, young, alternative, daring, whose triumphs were Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. And unfortunately, not a cinematic fiction, but a real story about the atrocities of the maniac Charles Manson and his “family” (a sect created by Manson himself to carry out the most sophisticated murders). The storylines connect at the end, explaining the meaning of the ending. Tarantino filmed his sub-reality with a happy ending, where there is no place for the murder of a pregnant actress, old and new Hollywood harmoniously exist together, and male friendship only grows stronger.

Meaning of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Aging and reflective Rick Dalton 10-15 years ago shone in the films of the “golden age” of Hollywood. Now Dalton drinks heavily, suffers from forced work in Italian westerns and dreams of “a place in the sun” in the new Hollywood. His friend and understudy Cliff Booth, who is rumored to have killed his wife, is Nordic and friendly even in fights (like on the set with Bruce Lee). Without understanding the relationship between the heroes of DiCaprio and Pitt, the meaning of the film will be partial, implicit: their friendship is an allusion to the relationships and events of the classic brilliant Hollywood of the 50s, nostalgia for the departed great actors. Rick and Cliff convince us by their example that not everything in the world of cinema is a fake, a phantom. Rick and Cliff are a slightly idealized face of the past, without which there would not have been an inspiring end to the picture.

The notion of a tragedy that happened on the night of August 8, 1969 provides further explanation for the film. Sharon Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, being 9 months pregnant, and her guests were literally torn to pieces by the Manson gang. The details of the event still chill the blood to this day, so we will omit them.

Tarantino was expected to repeat history or continue it with multiple shootouts and ironic dialogues. But things took a completely different turn: the heroine Margot Robbie (it was she who played Tate) remains alive and somewhere in the near future a happy mother. Throughout the film, Tate enjoys his cinematic debut, making sweet conversations and pleasing the eye in every possible way with happiness spilling over the screen. And the director does not let us down – he does not let the happiness of the fragile new Hollywood collapse. The “old men” Dalton and Booth transfer the wrath of the maniacs onto themselves, while not giving a single chance to the Manson “family” to escape: Cliff, under the influence of acid, furiously cracks down on the gang with the help of his pit bull, Dalton burns one of Manson’s girlfriends alive with a flamethrower napalm (obvious reference to “Inglourious Bastards”). Cruel and bloody? – Of course. Adjusted for circumstances, the viewer is entirely on the side of fellow actors.

What is the result? Cliff Booth is hospitalized with a stab wound after a fatal fight. The masculinity and fidelity of the wounded Cliff seems to remove the stigma of a woman killer from him. Rick Dalton and his Italian wife remain safe and sound. The noise and police sirens finally get the attention of Sharon’s company. Dalton and Tate only meet at the very end. The actress does not know that a couple of hours before that her life was in danger, ahead of Tate’s career take-off, new roles, success. And the fading fame of ’50s star Dalton could take a new turn in Polanski’s new directorial work.

The famously twisted ending takes us to a parallel reality where Sharon survived and the villains are punished. The meaning of the ending is visualized after the credits and the inscription “the end”.

Meaning of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ending

Life does not rewrite from drafts cleanly: there will be mistakes, “deuces”, blots. Torn back in 1969, the leaf of Sharon Tate’s life took a new turn and was reborn as the script for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 50 years later. The fictional characters of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, personifying the old school of American cinema, save young Hollywood in the person of Tate. The final meeting of Rick and Sharon in the Polanski-Tate house is symbolic: the merging of eras, the transition from one great milestone in cinema to another, no less significant and profound.

Quentin took a chance and rewrote history in his own way, with the daring, spunk that only he can do. Tarantino’s ninth film, for all its harshness and cynicism, does not leave a “heavy” heart. A penetrating and wise genius gives the viewer a wonderful fairy tale, to which we all aspire in one way or another.

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