Sunday, 2 December 2018


94. “How about we forget about the hats today, considering there’s a blizzard going on? And make tomorrow no hat day!”


A few weeks ago, the German edition of “Playboy” magazine published an interview which denounced Quentin Tarantino as a “cretin,” whose films are “trash”: “he just steals from others and puts it together again. There is nothing original about that... Tarantino is just cooking up old stuff.” The following day, the interviewee denied the comments, saying he was very fond of his collaboration with Tarantino, calling him “courageous” with “an enormous personality.” The magazine has now distanced itself from the freelance journalist that produced the article, saying it was reproduced the interviewee’s words incorrectly. At least, the whole debacle proves that some people do by “Playboy” for the interviews.

The whole thing didn’t sound right to me from the start. The interviewee was the composer Ennio Morricone who, despite having written the scores for over five hundred films and TV shows, and a hundred other classical works, in a seventy-year career, has only won one Academy Award, for “The Hateful Eight,” having been given a lifetime achievement award nine years earlier.

“The Hateful Eight” is a film that, I believe, would not have worked without Morricone’s score: in a film that primarily plays out only inside a stagecoach, a haberdashery, and the spaces immediately surrounding them, the atmospheric, haunting music heightens the tension and enlarges those spaces.

So far, “The Hateful Eight” is the only Tarantino film to have a (largely) original score, helping to build the world in which the outlaw characters live, without having to approximate the required feeling by picking existing songs – this was nearly derailed by the use of “Regan’s Theme” from “The Exorcist II” at the film’s start, and a few unused tracks from John Carpenter’s film of “The Thing,” but they were written by Morricone anyway, and were used due to time constraints when completing the new work. However, more than enough original music exists (50 minutes) to qualify for the Academy Awards.

Of course, even though this is the first Tarantino film to feature music written for it by Morricone, it is the sixth to feature his music, if you count “Kill Bill” as two films, and always with his co-operation. His music defines the Western, and particularly the spaghetti western, and the landscape on which the genre was built. But the original considerations that led to the music’s existence – particularly cost, as the music for “A Fistful of Dollars” sounds like it does because the production could not afford an orchestra – are swept aside in an attempt to capture a certain mood, like it was being cut to size from a roll of fabric. Morricone had not written for a Western for over thirty years before “The Hateful Eight,” but he had written enough to inspire others, or for others to take.

However, in 2013, a certain someone was reported as saying they will never work with Tarantino again, because he “places music in his films without coherence... you can’t do anything with someone like that.” These were also the words of Morricone, to students at LUISS University in Rome, reported later. I’m guessing “The Hateful Eight,” and the Academy Award, has helped a little.

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