December 11, 2015 / 12:26 PM / 2 years ago

Composer Morricone sets menacing mood for new Tarantino film

Composer Ennio Morricone poses as he arrives for the European premiere of "The Hateful Eight" at Leicester Square in London, Britain, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Octogenarian Italian film composer Ennio Morricone has written music for at least 400 films, including unforgettable signature tunes for 1960s “Spaghetti Westerns”, but for Quentin Tarantino’s “Hateful Eight” he’s managed something very dark.

Although Tarantino has used Morricone’s music before in his movies, including both instalments of “Kill Bill”, this is the first time Morricone has written a complete soundtrack for the American director.

It was nominated for a Golden Globe on Thursday in the Best Original Score category, although Morricone was not yet aware of that when Reuters asked for his reaction at the London premiere.

“That’s good! I am happy, I didn’t know,” he said.

The soundtrack could well be the most menacing piece that Morricone, who wrote the themes for “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Fistful of Dollars”, has ever composed.

Grumbling, low-voiced bassoons and droning string basses are among the instruments he uses in an all-purpose piece called “Snow”. It evokes the storm that traps the film’s heavily armed cast of bounty hunters in a remote, snowbound haberdashery in Wyoming after the American Civil War.

“It’s almost a motionless piece of music,” Morricone, 87, told Reuters in an interview in conjunction with the premiere.

He had traveled from his home in Rome to conduct a Czech orchestra for a direct-to-vinyl recording of the score at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London that will be released by Decca Records. Tarantino attended the recording session.

Morricone said he had left it to the music editor to use the “Snow” piece as needed. In other tracks he sought to convey “the poverty, the rage, the suffering and the irony and the drama of the story and the characters”.

Although it is the first time in 40 years that Morricone has composed music for a Western, he said he had not viewed the project that way.

“I ignored the label ‘Western’ because for me it is an adventure, a historical drama set in a very specific period of American history... for me it is not a ‘Western’ film,” he said.

He said that after Tarantino asked him to compose the soundtrack, he’d been given a script, had a half hour conversation with the director and been left pretty much to his own devices.

“He didn’t give me any clue, any indication, any specific requirement, he just gave me complete freedom,” Morricone said in remarks translated from Italian, adding that he had composed it all without seeing a single filmed sequence.

“It was a big responsibility... but I think he’s apparently happy with the result.”

Earlier this year the trade press reported a rift between Morricone and Tarantino over remarks the composer made saying the director had used various pieces by Morricone in his films in a manner that was not coherent.

“It was just a kind of observation that he used my music but the result is an inconsistent music score because it is a soundtrack made up of pieces written for other films,” he said.

“For this film he’s going to have a very, very consistent soundtrack because I wrote it all.”

Reporting by Michael Roddy; addition reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Toby Chopra

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