Ennio Morricone Goes Inside ‘Hateful Eight’ Soundtrack
“But what also impressed me was the violence,” he continues. “From the script, I could tell there were extremely brutal sequences but they were necessary in order to show that Tarantino himself was truly on the side of the victims.”
While they were together, Morricone dreamt up the theme for the film’s opening stagecoach ride. Pleased, Tarantino said the film had finished production and he would want the music within a month. And though he was initially hesitant, as Tarantino recalled in a Q&A following the film (as reported by Variety), Morricone realized he had a couple of weeks before Tornatore would send him his film. So, with some of the music he’d written for John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi–horror masterpiece The Thing, the composer could tender the score.
The incorporation of unused music from the Carpenter film made sense since, in a way, The Hateful Eight could be a descendant of The Thing, with its wintry setting, suspicious rogues, gallons of blood and star Kurt Russell. In the case of the 1982 movie, filmmaker John Carpenter had decided that for once he would not write the music for one of his movies by himself, as he’d done with hits like Halloween and Escape From New York; instead hired one of his heroes. “He’s fabulous and just genius,” Carpenter told Rolling Stone of the collaboration in 2014. Throbbing, eerie and as chilling as the movie’s Antarctic climes, the soundtrack evokes the paranoia and uncertainty that Russell’s character felt throughout the picture.
“Tarantino considers this film a Western; for me, this is not a Western. I wanted to do something that was totally different from any Western music I had composed in the past.”
“The collaboration with Carpenter was really something extraordinary and something very peculiar, as well,” Morricone says. “He came to Rome to show me the movie but immediately after the end of the screening, he had to rush away, so I couldn’t speak to him. I was very impressed by what I’d seen but I was concerned, because he didn’t give me any clue or indication about what he wanted.”
For his part, Carpenter recalls asking Morricone at one point for “fewer notes,” something “really simple, synth-driven, effective,” which is a perfect description of what made the final cut. But regardless the composer created a handful of pieces for Carpenter to consider. “I tried to produce different sounds in different styles,” he says. “In the end, he chose just one single piece of music. Now one of the pieces he didn’t use is in The Hateful Eight.”
Tarantino has likened the finished score, which ominously foreshadows the movie’s gory third act, to something more appropriate for a horror or giallo movie. It’s a stark contrast to what the director had in mind when he wrote the picture. “Quentin Tarantino considers this film a Western; for me, this is not a Western” Morricone says of The Hateful Eight, what he considers an adventure film. “I wanted to do something that was totally different from any Western music I had composed in the past.”
The process, though – establishing musical ideas from just thinking about the story – was somewhat similar to how Morricone worked with Leone. A composer since he was six years old and a trumpeter taught by his father, the Maestro had attended the same school as the iconic Italian director, who hired him to score his 1964 Western For a Few Dollars More. Leone was cautious of Morricone at first, as he felt the composer’s score for the 1963 Western Gunfight at Red Sands sounded too much like Dimitri Tiomkin’s music for Rio Bravo, but Morricone admitted that he’d only written it that way because he needed money and the director insisted on it. So Leone took a chance.