As with every Tarantino film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is rich with storytelling depth and meaning, especially as the film reaches its climax. Now that the movie’s out, it’s time to dig deep into the ending.

Let’s get the biggest development of the ending out of the way: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a movie in which the Manson family murders didn’t happen the way they did in real life. It’s clear from Cliff’s visit to the Spahn Movie Ranch that Charles Manson’s commune is up to something devious, but when it comes time to commit the infamous murders on Cielo Drive on the night of August 8th, historical fact gives way to fiction. One drug-fueled decision to change plans and try to murder Rick Dalton creates a ripple effect. Sharon Tate and her friends survive that night, and three key members of Manson’s family do not.

Though the film ends before it can explore the full extent of this ripple effect, it’s safe to assume that the black cloud created by the Manson murders in 1969 was changed in a number of key ways. Joan Didion famously wrote that the night Sharon Tate died was the night the 1960s ended. The decade was about to end anyway, but perhaps Rick and Cliff’s acts of self-defense were enough to keep the feeling of the 1960s alive in Hollywood for at least a little longer.

The last shot of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood shows us Rick, having torched Susan Atkins in his pool during the attack on his house, being invited up to Sharon Tate’s home for drinks. It’s the realization of a fantasy Rick has been nurturing ever since he figured out that the hottest director in town, Roman Polanski, and his rising star wife were his neighbors. To Rick, they’re the people who can get him into all the best Hollywood circles, the people who can resurrect his struggling career. Keep watching the video to see the ending of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood explained!

#EndingExplained #OnceUponATimeInHollywood

An era-ending crime no more | 0:14
Rick Dalton’s new opportunity | 1:18
Cliff Booth, hero stuntman | 2:07
Best friends forever | 3:02
The imagined future of Sharon Tate | 3:31
An alternate history | 4:11

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39 thoughts on “The Ending Of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Explained

  1. I feel really sorry for the family of Sharon Tate and her unborn child. The media made a circus out of the Manson trials and it's disturbing how much fan fare this brutally demented monster and his cult followers got after. In a way we forget about the victims of the Manson family and the effects it had on others. It's very disturbing.

  2. Someone: Why do you always change History in your movies?
    Quentin: BECAUSE IT'S SO MUCH FUN!

  3. No, never thought of the 1960's ending because of the Sharon Tate murders…I wished they didn't stay (all of them) at that house….the 1960's ended…thank God…the 60's were too boring….LOVED THE 50'S but boring and the 70'S

  4. Its proof Quintin was right…he is only doing 10 movies because as directors get older their abilities get worse. He is right. AWFUl movie

  5. Rodney alcala = serial murder ! Polanski give rodney filmgraphy lessons ? Remarkable dude ? Serial murder & teacher polanski & dead wife ,? Easy math dude .?

  6. Cliff Booth deserves the 2020 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Amazing work by Brad Pitt.

  7. I think this is Tarantino's worst movie. It's so frustrating to watch him. He can make great scenes, he just fails to make one movie that shows quality from beginning to end.

  8. I have no idea what this us about but I saw a blog post about this woman who thought it was a " misogynistic mess" and I was so confused because her only point was a woman gets killed. I have never seen this movie

  9. This movie would’ve been fine if it had been part of a larger movie that had about five different,separate stories. Like “Scary stories to tell in the dark “or “twilight zone”.

  10. Doesn't explain the ending and why Tarantino chose to depict an alternate reality, just speculates on what could happen after the film ends.

  11. For me the key characters in the movie the 8 year old girl and Cliff. Both kind of live outside the box of the cultural influences of the time and to the beat of their own drum. Rick is depressed and stressed out by the demands the culture has placed on him regarding his career. He meets the 8 year old girl on the movie set and learns to view the world in the context of her eyes (the same way Cliff and Sharon Tate function). The Manson followers are a by product of the dark aspect of the hippy culture who are that way because of (hatred) societal influence. In the end, its the characters that reject cultural trappings (Rick and Cliff) are triumphant. This films message is relevant in the world of 2020 even though it is set in 1969

  12. I watched this movie a few weeks ago and was thinking he would show their deaths but happy he switched it. It's sad how Sharon tate and the others met their demise in real life.

  13. Remember, Rick torched a woman to death, in "Once upon," Mansion family members or not, ( & since, Watson & friends, die doesn't it stand that the public, interrupt their break-in as merely a robbery, & not a hit-squad ???!!!) So, Rick should have been looking at some very serious legal-ramification's after that night. Not celebrity, after killing some stoned-out hippie robber's. And, wouldn't that leave Manson, looking for revenge, & have, "Helter Skelter," just kill some other group of. People, a little-bit later ???!!!!

  14. Even you, yourself admit that Sharon Tate was a 2-bit actress who's biggest claim to fame was, "Valley of the doll's" ( garbage) & a bit-part in a "Matt Helm," movie. She was hardly Julie Christie, or Vanessa Redgrave. It. doesn't mean it's ok to slaughter, the actress, sense-lessly, & her unborn baby of course, but if she had'nt died that night, in that grisly fashion, very few people in 2019, would even remember her. And, her marriage to Polanski was on the skid's anyway.

  15. Joan Didion. What an idiot. How about the end of Vietnam & Watergate being the end of the 1960's ????!!! Dumb-ass. Not to mention hippies, & yippies aging, & being replaced by the studio-54 crowd.

  16. For some reason, I felt like the kitchen scenes with Pitt and the dog were in a guest house of actor Rick Dalton's larger estate in the Hills. Which, made me wonder about the final scene and why Francesca would be in the guest house with Cliff Booth. Were Cliff and Francesca having an affair? Were Cliff and Rick Swingers? Was Rick gay and Cliff watch this back and was actually Francesca's boyfriend? If that was the kitchen to the main house and Cliff lived in the main house with Rick, this can all be disregarded.

  17. Its not that hard to explain: he rewrote history as what would have happened if the Manson murders were intervened. Pretty easy to get if you know history. If you dont know about the Manson murders you would not get this movie at all

  18. IMO the entire movie was just character development / a background story secondary to the tate murder not happening. he needed to create an extremely strong storyline with very interesting characters in order to make changing a historic event believable and seamless. the eerie part was is when he's standing in the driveway telling one of the victims about what happened, then he is invited up and greeted by the rest of the victims and continues to tell them what's happened. that was an absolutely brilliant and beautiful homage to the victims, including roman polanski.

  19. I don't live in the USA and I really have no idea about the early days of hollywood. Always felt that the Margot Robbie scenes felt out of place during my watch of the movie. It all made sense after learning about the real life murder that happened. I got so confused as to why only the hippies died when Tarantino always had this everybody dies trope in his movies. This was such a nice what if movie. No wonder that ending scene had that creepy vibe about it.

  20. what a waste of two great actors. wished to see them do much more than this. "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" is a really mediocre movie and that's a fact. Leo & Brad deserve a better story to tell together 🙁

  21. I'm surprised no one mentioned that Bruce Lee "little phoenix" was indeed an arrogant big mouth, a little guy who kept telling people that it would be immoral for him to fight someone who's not a professional martial artist. That he would end up in prison if he did. Lol!!!

  22. lesson? you have to plan your work and then work your plan……don't alter the plan man!!!

  23. I really don't get why people complain about this ending I love it!!! I'm a history buff and I love that this movie gave the real life history a middle finger and that this movie honored Sharon Tate the way it did

  24. I literally had no idea about the real life murders when I saw the movie. It all seemed very weird. Knowing what really happened is incredibly sad, perhaps moreso for having heard the real version second.

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