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The link between 'Django Unchained' and 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

Possibly the most influential director of the 21st century, Quentin Tarantino has the extraordinary ability to tilt popular culture in the direction of his liking, making each of his films an event in the cinematic calendar.

A self-confessed student of cinema, Tarantino often borrows from the history of film, lovingly taking creative licence from Japanese cinema in particular, such as in Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood, which heavily influenced 2003s Kill Bill. In discussion with The Talks, he notes how he absorbs cultural influences to use in his writing, commenting: “[My] head is a sponge. I listen to what everyone says, I watch little idiosyncratic behaviour, people tell me a joke and I remember it. People tell me an interesting story in their life and I remember it”. 

It seems as though Quentin Tarantino has reached such an influential point, however, that now his own films inspire his later projects. Such has sparked debate across the internet for decades, with fans pointing toward an internal ‘Tarantino-verse‘ that exists throughout his filmography. 

Clues that suggest toward such a universe are rife and include minor references, such as the recurring ‘Red Apple Cigarettes’, as well as major links such as when Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs mentions working with a girl called Alabama, a direct reference to Patricia Arquette’s Alabama Whitman in True Romance. A meta-theory that sparked in 2020 alludes to a brand new clue, however, suggesting that Django Unchained is actually a film within a film.

As discussed on a Reddit thread, users wonder whether the 2012 western film, starring Jamie Foxx, is actually a film within the universe of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, subsequently meaning that Django’s antagonist Calvin Candie is played not by Leonardo DiCaprio, but instead DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton in Tarantino’s latest film. 

Still with us? Good. The theory continues, suggesting that Django Unchained would have merely been another film Rick Dalton starred in, alongside fictional projects LancerOperazione Dyn-o-mite! and The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey. As the theory goes, “We have no clue as of today what happened to Dalton after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino said that after 1969 he was a pretty big name”. 

Whilst we rarely entertain fan theories, we thought this one was particularly interesting, fitting in nicely with Quentin Tarantino’s own meta-commentary of his own filmography. So neat is this theory that we’d love to see Tarantino confirm it in the future, or better still allude to its existence with a trail of neatly placed clues.

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