Book vs. Movie: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Hello, my darling readers!
I’ve talked about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a while ago – naturally I had to see the film the moment it came out. But guess what, Tarantino decided we aso need a book version of the story. So, let’s see how that turned out!

The Plot (as found on Goodreads):

RICK DALTON – Once he had his own TV series, but now Rick’s a washed-up villain-of-the week drowning his sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it?

CLIFF BOOTH – Rick’s stunt double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he’s the only one there who might have gotten away with murder. . . .

SHARON TATE – She left Texas to chase a movie-star dream, and found it. Sharon’s salad days are now spent on Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills.

CHARLES MANSON – The ex-con’s got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he’s their spiritual leader, but he’d trade it all to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.


Hemlock Grove on Goodreads

Book vs. Movie:

I’m gonna keep my thought on the film short, as I have a full-lenght review over here. I enjoyed it a lot (I’ve seen it multiple times) but I completely understand why it doesn’t work at all for some people. Tarantino gave us a film that captures the zeitgeist of the late 60s. If you know a thing or two about Hollywood in that time you’re going to have a field day spotting all the little hints and references. But if you are not familar with that period and it’s MVPs, you’re going to be very bored. The action doesn’t pick up until the last half hour. But it’s a three hour movie so it takes a long time for it to get exciting.

I was curious to see how that would translate to written form. Well, first of all, you can tell that Tarantino doesn’t usually write novels. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. After about half the book either he got better at writing or I got used to his ‘style’, I’m honestly not sure which of the two. 😅

The novel kinda reads like a director’s cut of the film. Imagines the movie, but 5 hours long. A great many chapters are just an exact recreation of what we got to see on screen with maybe a few extra pages that might have initially been in the film but got cut. I don’t mind that per se but I’m honestly glad that some of those additional scenes did not make it into the movie. It was somehow nice because you already have a distinct picture in your head to go with what you read, but I’m not quite sure how I would have reacted to the book had I not seen the film before.

Even if you might not be an expert on the 60s, you could still pick up a book set in the 60s and enjoy it. Here, the problem I laid out with the movie is also prevalent with the novel. The written version of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood comes with a lot of namedropping. I always made sure to have my phone within reach while reading so that I could a least get a face to whatever list of names Tarantino had just dumped. It’s both a little annoying and super interesting. I was left with a long list of movies I need to check out now!

Some chapters also read a little weird because you could clearly tell some opinions were not written for a character but were simply Tarantino’s personal opinions he just glued to the character so he could rant about which movies he loves and hates. Again, I didn’t really mind because I gave me new stuff to look up.

While the book was interesting, I’m not sure how much I would have enjoyed it without having seen the film first. Generally speaking, I don’t think it is a must read. If you loved the movie you’ll probably also enjoy the book, but if not, you might want to stear clear of this novel. 😅

Did you prefer the book or the movie? Let me know in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

  1. Pingback: Wrapping it up for September | The Punk Theory

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