The Hateful Eight soundtrack review

To many, including myself, Ennio Morricone is the best composer of film music… in the world. His music to world famous spaghetti westerns (such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) is just as unique and legendary as his scores for movies like The Untouchables, Once Upon A Time in America or The Mission. Every true cineast is a fan of his music. Among them Quentin Tarantino, whose soundtracks have included his music on several occasions, often in unexpected contexts. While for Tarantino music is more than just an add-on to scenes, but more part of his picture composition, over the years he warmed up more and more to the idea of having specially composed music in his movies as well, instead just known or lesser known pieces from his record collection. Robert Rodriguez (Desperado) and The RZA (The Man With the Iron Fists) have both contributed original scores to his films, and in Django Unchained, one track by Ennio Morricone was especially composed for it. It seems like those two have danced around for years, it was time to seal the deal.

Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which opened Christmas day in the US on about 100 screens in a special 70mm Roadshow Version, and opened wide on January first, is an epic western in a small place, a tale of eight shady characters stranded in a mountain shack amidst a threatening blizzard. Perfect for a threatening aural atmosphere. After a few discussions, maestro Morricone agreed, despite prior commitments to Giuseppe Tornatore, to not only pass unused music from The Thing on to Quentin (John Carpenter only used the title track), but composed a set of tracks based on his motive of gloomy threat and chase for him.

HatefuleightvinylThis soundtrack has been on sale (also in vinyl, a special limited edition of that in the US, the international vinyl matches the CD) since mid December. The following is a short ride through the tracks (which does include some pop music), but caution, it might spoil a bit in terms of the main plot.

  1. It starts with L’Ultima Dillegenzia di Red Rock,a threatening crescendo that is reminiscent of horror movies, and in best Morricone style, towards the middle, it explodes, and transports the central theme he suggested to Tarantino: the ride of a coach towards an uncertain future, in an atmosphere of menace. The oboes, Morricone’s favorites instrument, play joyously and add to the creeping up of the coming mayhem. A real Morricone thriller, but not so much in the spaghetti western tradition.
  2. Then the actual Overture. The movie, in the Roadshow version, opens with an opening act, while folks find their seats, it establishes the right mood. Oboes here as well, a lot of menacing scenario, but also some organ and carillon (no surprise, it is Morricone’s tool for fate). The audience is about to expect three hours of epic western brutality. This is being teased here, almost threatened.
  3. A piece of dialogue “Major Marquis Warren meet Daisy Domergue”. Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L. Jackson are being introduced.
  4. Narratore Letterario.The motive from the overture is back, mixed with the title track it assumes the pace of the coach approaching the haberdashery. The entire picture of the soundtrack comes together here and you can see the thread Morricone is spinning here – which he will ultimately let rip.
  5. Apple Blossom – The White Stripes.Some pop music, it’s Tarantino! The track doesn’t seem to be from the label, but from his own record collection, including the crackling and the noise, as he has done before. A beautiful, minimalistic and a bit eerie track, the piano seems out of tune. The E-Guitar might be the reason though he picked it, the twang fits perfectly into Tarantino’s world and has a Western touch.
  6. Dialogue piece “Frontier Justice” with Tim Roth and Kurt Russell, discussing morals of justice and punishment.
  7. L’Ultima Dilligenza di Red Rock. The let’s say compact version of the title track, only half as long and more to the point.
  8. Neve. This Western takes place in the snow. That motive is established here. However it is not romantic snowflakes, but a threatening scenery, snow covers everything and let’s it seem nice and clean, but also it traps the protagonists and creates this atmosphere of claustrophia. The track is over 12 minutes long and doesn’t kid around. The musical leitmotif comes back again and again, a beautifully atmospheric track.
  9. “This here is Daisy Domergue”, Kurt Russel’s loudmouth character introduces his chained prisoner to the others. Michael Madsen is irked.
  10. Sei Cavalli. Six horses are carrying the coach as it races through the winter landscape. An important theme from the title melody is back, in the midst of drum beats and a storm of strings.
  11. Reggi die Sole sulla Montagna. But the sun does shine every now and then through the snow covered mountains. A misleading picture…
  12. “Son of the bloody nigger…” The dialogue in the movie is racially charged, as this piece shows. Bruce Dern is just amazing!
  13. Jim Jones at Botany Bay is sung and played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. In the background, the guys are nailing boards to the windows as the storm approaches.
  14. Neve #2. The snow storm is bout to hit.
  15. “Uncle Charlies Stew”, more dialogue, about food. Hateful or not, you gotta eat.
  16. I Quattro Passegeri. The main theme from the title track is back. Now we know sort of what is to expect, we know most of the protagonists, something’s not right here….
  17. La Musica Prima Del Massacro. In the middle of a snow covered shack in the mountains are eight untrustworthy folks, guns, hate, mistrust. The silence is suspicious. This track is quiet, slow, eerie almost. Something is in the air…
  18. L’Inferno Bianco. Ultimately, all participants should be clear about one thing: this isn’t romantic, this is gonna be their hell. There is no escape, just survival. Morricone drums up the psycho theater, underneath the mens’ tough surface is fear and reckoning.
  19. “The Suggestive Oswaldo Mobray”, dialogue of little Mobray, but what’s his point?
  20. Now Youre all alone, by David Hass, another pop song. A lovely little balad, everything is calm, almost cozy? But then there’s a gunshot…
  21. Sangue e Neve. Snow is white, blood is red. There’s the trouble.
  22. LInferno Bianco #2. The gloomy panic in Minnie’s Haberdasehry is in full swing. Is there a way out? Who is the main threat?
  23. Neve #3. That damned snow.
  24. “Daisys Speech”. Dialogue bit. Daisy may have more of a clue than all of them? Or not….
  25. La Lettera di Lincoln. Patriotic dwelling in the past Chris Mannix style? The movie does take place just a few years after the civil war.
  26. “La Lettera di Lincoln”. Dialogue bit with Walton Goggins.
  27. There Wont be Many Coming home by Roy Orbison is the only song on the CD you might not find on Spotify & Co. The third pop song is impressive, Roy sings about how few people are coming home from war. The same applies to our snowed in haberdashery.
  28. La Puntura della Morte. You don’t come up here without a reason. But you won’t come out neither.

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Sebastian H

Sebastian H

Sebastian is the founder and owner of the Tarantino Archives. He lives in Berlin. He also runs the SWDb and GCDb, Furiouscinema.com, robert-rodriguez.info and nischenkino.de

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