Is Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Based On A True Story?

Acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, has a release date, promotional images, and a teaser trailer. Starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and many others, the movie is described as both “black comedy” and “crime.” It is also a period piece with character names you may recognize. Here’s what you need to know about the new flick, including its origins.

What is Once Upon A Time In Hollywood about?

The action takes place in 1969 in Los Angeles. Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) is a famous TV actor looking to make the transition into film. His stunt double, Cliff Booth (Pitt), is also his best friend. And Dalton lives next door to a young, pregnant actress named Sharon Tate. Other than that, there isn’t much a plot to be discerned just yet.

Is the movie based on a true story?

The answer to this is both yes and no. Pitt and DiCaprio’s characters are entirely fictional, although they certainly bear a resemblance to actors of the time. And the focus on the story around them again doesn’t appear to have any basis in reality, other than that actors like Dalton certainly lived in Tate’s neighborhood.

However, most of the other characters are based on real people. In addition to Tate and her husband Roman Polanski, several members of the “Manson family,” including Charles Manson himself, are represented in the film. Actors Steve McQueen (The Sand Pebbles) and Connie Stevens (Hawaiian Eye) are portrayed, as is Bruce Lee, who was just getting started in his film career at the time and choreographed fight scenes for Tate’s film The Wrecking Crew.

Tarantino has never made a film about a real historical event before

While Tarantino is a huge proponent of including pop culture references in his films, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will be his first movie that is about an actual historical event. The closest would be Inglourious Basterds, which was set during World War II and did feature actors portraying people such as Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. However, the film itself was entirely revisionist history.

It seems as though this may be the case for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as well, although there’s no way of determining this yet. The focus on the two fictional characters had led some to believe that the Tate-Manson story will take place in the background. So while there are many depictions of real people in the film, it remains to be seen whether the events will be at all based in reality.

What do you need to know about the Manson murders before seeing the film?

The nice thing about the way in which this film may be done is that viewers likely don’t need to have a lot of historical knowledge about Charles Manson and the murder of Sharon Tate prior to seeing it. Though there will likely be plenty of nods to facts and real people who lived during this time, it probably won’t be necessary for understanding the plot. If the film is from the perspective of the outsiders Rick and Cliff, viewers can enjoy learning about the events alongside the characters.

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