Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight [OST]
Even when I have been less enamoured with the finished film product I’ve still been impressed with the soundtracks from Quentin Tarantino films – as it happens I rather loved The Hateful Eight – but waited to hear its soundtrack for the first time up on the screen with/in the film. That’s because it’s Tarantino’s first time working with an actual composed score rather than “DJing” his way in and around source music and scoring scenes to gnarly and wonderful country and surf-rock favourites. Also because there’s always something mesmerising about hearing a Morricone score on the big screen.
And The Hateful Eight soundtrack delivers. Evocative, stately orchestral passages – some of the pieces leftovers from the great Maestro’s career (including his discarded score for John Carpenter’s The Thing) – help to frame Tarantino’s great big-screen/70mm epic.
It’s funny that Morricone’s return to westerns after some 30 years doesn’t instantly connect with his past work. None of the trademarks from the Spaghetti Westerns are here…but then this is a Tarantino rendition of a western, so to have music that sits slightly outside the ideal feels just right.
And actually, mostly, this music feels just right – even to listen to outside and away from the film. Some of the longer pieces (such as Neve) float and shimmer and swirl into a whole new world when moved away from the film images, but also my memory of watching this score inside the film is that it was very subtle, beautiful – so often perfect. As an album, away from the film, it isn’t at all jarring – but the music is freed up to sound like it could exist alongside a whole other set of images.
Tying it back to the Tarantino world is the familiar presence of dialogue excerpts – and that’s probably what’s most jarring about this soundtrack, given Tarantino’s script used the word “nigger” to similar shocking effect as when Scarface dropped so many F-bombs back in its day.
We also have a few moments away from the Ennio Morricone world – The White Stripes’ Apple Blossom is strangely fitting in that great incongruous way Tarantino has with a song, linking back, too, to Jack White’s useful work soundtracking Cold Mountain; there’s something in his sound that suits these sorts of vistas, perhaps it’s an icy detachment.
We get Jennifer Jason Leigh in character singing an old murder ballad, a David Hess piece (since it’s a Tarantino favourite move: taking from other film soundtracks and recontextualising) and the closing credits rolled out to Roy Orbison’s Won’t Be Many Coming Home (which I first heard on Tour of Duty IV).
In some of the pieces toward the end of the film – La Lettera di Lincoln/La Puntura Della Morte – there’s a regal majesty within the serenade and fanfare. Ennio knowing what to do every time of course.
I loved the film and have been loving living with the soundtrack all on its own now. Though of course it’s never quite all on its own now is it…