Quentin Tarantino wrote the book for a film. So what? That has been the case with all of his nine films to date, and he has also written for a few other directors. But these were both scripts – if you want to believe the competence of the American film academy, Tarantino’s real domain, because he won his two Oscars as a writer (for “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained”). But then a month ago in the United States and shortly afterwards the first novel by the filmmaker, who was born in 1963, was published in German. This late literary debut is called like his most recent cinema work: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. But it is not what one would generally expect from a “book about the film”. And that’s just as well.
Because this genre is generally despised, while film adaptations of books arouse great expectations (because of the larger audience in the cinema or in front of the screen). The adaptation of canvas acts as a printed word may also be profitable, but from a qualitative point of view it is rarely bearable. Ambitious authors do not order this field because their understanding of literary activity includes the nimbus of the original genius. And ambitious readers expect the same. In the case of “books on film”, therefore, earnings are the incentive, not earnings.
More drastic than in the film
For Tarantino, however, both count. After he achieved the best box office result of his career with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and announced his departure from the director’s chair for the time after the next film, the American book company HarperCollins signed a contract with him for two books – as an option for a lot of free time in Tarantino’s post-cinematic life. But for the first title they wanted to take advantage of the fresh box office success. But who would have expected to be told the story of the worn out cowboy actor Rick Dalton and his former stuntman and now “man for everything” Cliff Booth, will be disappointed.
And productively, because Tarantino does not only have cinematic, but also literary skills. This also includes knowledge of the laws of the respective art form. Butcher scenes, for example, as they shape the director’s cinema, cannot be described as effectively as they can be filmed. At the same time, printed descriptions permit greater drasticness, for example in relation to sex, than a filmmaker, who has to take into account the criteria for age ratings in the cinema, could show them. Accordingly, in the book “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, after the young Pussycat got into Cliff Booth’s car, things are much more revealing than in the film of the same name – and the girl in the book is also much younger, forbidden young even.