Tarantino’s epic is the big draw at Cannes. But there are other Manson movies around – including one about what ultimately happened to the young women who fell under the murderer’s spell
Over the last half century, one villain has loomed large over Hollywood. The gruesome murders committed by Charles Manson and his followers in the summer of 1969 have filled countless films and documentaries about stardom and the debaucheries of the 1960s. But his malign influence extends far beyond the screen. Aside from murdering eight people, Manson and his disciples – the Family – have been blamed for wiping out the counterculture, free love, communes and hippies.
Three new films are making fresh attempts to reckon with “the symbol of animalism and evil”, as Rolling Stone magazine called him. The biggest is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, about to premiere at the Cannes film festival. Set in Los Angeles during the Manson era, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a fading TV western star and Brad Pitt as his stunt double, both attempting to make the leap to the big screen. Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate – the actor and wife of director Roman Polanski – who was brutally murdered by the Family. Manson, a background figure in the film, is played by Damon Herriman.