Once Upon A Time In Hollywood won three awards at the Golden Globe Awards this past Sunday night, including Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt, and Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture.
If you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, be warned the following article contains spoilers for the film.
If you haven’t seen the film, it’s about fading television star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) making their way through Los Angeles during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969.
Most of the film focuses on the fading career of Western movie and television star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his relationship with his longtime stunt double and personal assistant Cliff Booth (Pitt). Rick Dalton was once the star of the popular TV series “Bounty Law”, but a few bad acting choices set his career back, leading him to consider quitting showbiz for good. The film shows you how he has transitioned from playing the hero to playing “the heavy”, the character that always gets beat by the hero. Rick comes to grips with the fact that he’s been relegated to cameo roles and he doesn’t like what that suggests about his future.
In the film, Rick lives on Cielo Drive in a house next door to one being rented by Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). In real life, on August 9th, 1969, members of the Charles Manson “family” murdered actress Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger in the Cielo Drive home shortly after midnight. Tate was only two weeks away from birthing her child at the time. However, in the film, Quentin Tarantino’s alternate reality depicts the followers of Charles Manson going to the wrong address, ending up at Rick Dalton’s home.
Rick has no love for “hippies” and expresses his disdain for so-called “long hairs” several times throughout the film. When he calls people “hippies” and “long hairs”, it’s obvious that he resents all the young, peace-signing people that are taking over Los Angeles. Dalton doesn’t trust them and thinks they are all troublemakers. Booth’s character on the other hand is different than Rick. While being Rick’s friend, Booth lives a hippiesque lifestyle in a trailer that is parked behind a drive-in movie theater, not very far from the abandoned cottages the Manson “family” occupied on Spahn Ranch. His attitude toward most things is hippie-like, too. At one point of the film, Pitt’s character makes a speech about how he’s never had “much ambition” and “finds joy in the day-to-day”. At one point in the film, Booth he sees a girl named Pussycat (Margaret Qualley), a Manson follower who eventually guides him to Spahn Ranch. The only time Booth gets bad vibes from is when he starts to feel something is not right at the Ranch, a place he used to work and knew the own. He thought the owner wouldn’t want a bunch of “hippies” staying there. It is in this scene that Booth meets several people he would recognize later when they try to murder him and his friend Rick.
Both the followers Manson depicted in the movie, and Pitt’s character Booth both used LCD the night of the murders.
LSD is a potent, mood-changing chemical manufactured from lysergic acid found in the ergot fungus that grows on rye and other grains. The drug is produced in crystal form within a laboratory and then converted to a liquid for distribution. LSD is odorless, colorless, and has a slightly bitter taste. Known as “acid” and other street names, LSD is sold in small tablets called “microdots”, inside capsules, or gelatin squares called “window panes”, and in raw liquid form. In the sixties, people would dip cigarettes into the liquid form, and it would absorb into the paper.
No matter what form it comes in, LSD disconnects the users from reality. The experience of using the drug is known as a “trip” and typically lasts about 12 hours. A “bad trip” is when you experience bad events, thoughts, or reaction to the drug. An acid-dipped cigarette and “microdots” are featured in the film.
In the film you see a drunk Rick Dalton becoming enraged at “hippies” whose obnoxiously loud car is making noise in his driveway. Dalton runs outside and begins to aggressively yell at them, telling them to leave and to never come back. The “hippies” initially do as he says and drive back down the street a bit. After backing off, they realize they were just confronted by Bounty Law star Rick Dalton and decide to return. The three “hippies”, Tex Watson (Austin Butler), Susan Atkins (Mikey Madison), and Patricia Krenwinkel (Madisen Beaty) burst into Dalton’s home with the intention of murdering everyone. However, the plan doesn’t go as intended. In Tarantino’s version of history, Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth kill the followers on Manson instead. The scene in which the “hippies” are murdered is exceptionally brutal.
Right before the brutal murder scene, Cliff Booth’s character was facing a dramatic life-changing event as his longtime friend and employer Dalton could no longer afford to keep him on. Realizing the times were changing, Booth smoked an acid-laced cigarette to temporarily forget his troubles.
Under the acid’s influence, Booth murdered a few of the home-invaders in some of the most brutal ways seen on screen. The methods of murder include dog attacks, face-stomping, knife fights, and beating one to death with a phone.
In the ’60s when Once Upon A Time In Hollywood takes place, lots of artists and musicians used LSD to enhance creativity. However, LSD is considered a Schedule I drug, which the Drug Enforcement Agency defines as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. People that take LSD experience altered moods and cognitive functioning. Simply put, LSD affects the way your brain interprets reality, therefore we recommend seeking treatment if you are psychologically addicted to it.
While Booth was defending his friend’s home, you can’t help to wonder if Pitt’s character would’ve reacted the same way if he had not smoked the acid-laced cigarette. At the beginning of the attacks, he seemed amused it was happening. He was disconnected from reality due to the drugs. Films that depict our favorite Hollywood actors using drugs on screen to entertain people can be dangerous. For people watching the film, it entertains the audience with scenes of brutal violence and comedic reactions to that violence, all being fueled by drugs. I don’t know if scenes like these would encourage someone to try acid, but it certainly romanticizes the drug while visually entertaining the watchers with gruesome acts of violence.
We have been closely monitoring information from the CDC and other government agencies to stay up to date with the latest information about COVID-19. We take the health of our clients and staff seriously and are doing all we can to ensure the safety of everyone in our care. If you have any questions about how COVID-19 has impacted our organization, please reach out to us by calling (844) 929-0868.