The Hateful Eight

USA 2015, 167 mins
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino had frequently repurposed Morricone cues for his own pictures, with Navajo Joe (1966) and Death Rides a Horse (1967) surfacing in Kill Bill: Vol.1 (2003) and the music for Revolver (1973) and Allonsanfan (1974) cropping up in Inglourious Basterds (2009). Morricone had turned down an invitation to score the latter, although he did contribute ‘Ancora Qui’ to Django Unchained (2012), which also sampled The Hellbenders (1967) and the famous braying mule from Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970).

The maestro swore he wouldn’t work with Tarantino again because ‘he places music in his films without coherence’. But for The Hateful Eight he was coaxed into producing his first original western score since Buddy Goes West (1981), dusting down an unused theme submitted during the unhappy collaboration with John Carpenter on the Razzie-nominated, but fitfully brilliant score for The Thing (1982). Despite also containing a self-borrowing from Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), the score finally brought Morricone his Academy Award.
David Parkinson,

Quentin Tarantino on ‘The Hateful Eight’

This is another western and, in many ways, like Django Unchained [2012], a political one. You’ve said you originally didn’t think of it politically in terms of current times and yet the movie has become that. The western genre is often an effective way to explore psychological, political and cultural themes, throughout the history of cinema… would you agree?

I’ve always felt that, actually. If you read any of the really interesting subtextual criticism on westerns, especially leading into the late 60s and into the 70s, they have always done a pretty good job reflecting the decade in which they were made without seemingly trying to. When westerns were probably at their most popular, during the 50s, they definitely put forth an Eisenhower-esque America. And it was also an America and an American West that was flush with American exceptionalism – having just won World War II and with the advent of the suburbs. That was very important to westerns back then. And even, in an interesting way, while they weren’t bold enough in the 50s to deal with the race problem in America – i.e., between blacks and whites, since the race problem between Indians and whites was long since over with – they actually tried to somewhat deal with black and white issues via Indian and white issues. Like [Delmer Daves’s] Broken Arrow [1950]… In the case of Broken Arrow, Jeff Chandler, in particular, became a big box-office draw for black people in America because of his performance as Cochise in that film.

And that continued during the first half of the 60s, which was basically the 50s, part II. But from 1966 on, things started changing and spaghetti westerns went a long way toward doing that: the stylisation, the use of music, but also the counterculture. So by ’68, ’69, ’70 and ’71, you had the hippie westerns, the counterculture westerns, whether they be Kid Blue [1973] or The Hired Hand [1971] or Zachariah [1970], things like that. The 70s, particularly in America, was one of the best times for the western. And the changes went further into the 70s; it increased as the decade went on, [in terms of] the true ‘anti-western’, because so many of the different westerns at that time dealt with the Vietnam War, in one way or another.

I brought up some other westerns I thought might have inspired you, like André De Toth’s Day of the Outlaw [1959] or William Wellman’s Track of the Cat [1954], these snowbound westerns, but you’ve talked about how you were inspired by television westerns like Bonanza [1959-73] and The Virginian [1962-71], particularly because there would be these fantastic guest stars on those shows, those who would play the villains, like Lee Van Cleef or Charles Bronson…

Yes, that’s it. And Robert Culp too. And, when those shows had a big-name guest star like them, they were the star of the story. Michael Landon or Doug McClure are just helping them out, or it’s a guessing game: are they the protagonist like me or are they the antagonist? And just the idea that, in these guest stars, they always had a past that is revealed at some point, and the truth or the untruth of that past literally becomes the story point going forward. I even played a fun game of imagining who I would cast in The Hateful Eight if I were doing this in 1969.

Getting into the shooting of the film: it’s interesting that you used Ultra Panavision 70 and yet there are a lot of close-ups, which I appreciated, because while you have beautiful, vast shots of vistas in the snow, you’ve also got this chamber piece with people and faces. And I always think there’s as much terrain on a human face for that format. Why forgo the close-up, even with that scope?

I absolutely agree. There was a lot of speculation from some people about this whole 70mm thing, as in, ‘That’s really great, but it’s just this set-bound parlour piece, so isn’t it just a big old fucking waste of time and money?’ I think that’s a shallow view of how 70mm can be employed. It’s not just to shoot the Seven Wonders of the World, the Sahara desert and mountain ranges. You can do more than just shoot weather… I’ve shot a lot of movies with Sam Jackson, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the close-ups of him that I’ve got in this. You drink in the chocolate of his skin, you swim in those eyes that he has. And also, it becomes about the dialogue. You enjoy him saying the dialogue both audibly but you enjoy watching him say it at the same time.

There’s an aspect to the movie that’s supposed to be claustrophobic, that’s part of how the tension works. It wouldn’t be the same if everything took place in the open barn where something could possibly escape. There’s a hothouse atmosphere here. All of these weasels are in one bag. But there’s claustrophobic in a good way, a way that helps the tension, and then there’s claustrophobic in an uninspired, uninteresting way, because you’ve seen it all. And one of the things I thought this format ended up doing, especially when I started watching the movie: if you’re sitting from the middle to the back, you’re having one viewing experience. You’re watching the framing of it all, you’re watching the artistry of it, a little bit more presentational a version of it. Five rows towards the front, you are in the movie, you are in Minnie’s Haberdashery. You are not watching it, you are in it. And that is something about this format that is really special.

There’s a retro and timeless qualities to your movies, even this one, which is firmly planted in the past. But the use of music is interesting to help present this, from having the great Ennio Morricone score it, to the songs you choose. A White Stripes song, for Daisy, which is newer. The Roy Orbison song ‘There Won’t Be Many Coming Home’, which is such a beautiful song…

From The Fastest Guitar Alive [1967].

And then you had the David Hess song ‘Now You’re All Alone’ in there too…

That was interesting. I had the David Hess song in there, and I showed it to you guys. OK. Now, let me invite a couple of people over and show it to them – I’m not dealing with the whole bigness of the 70mm, it was just to watch the movie and see what they think. And so I invited Eli Roth, editor Bob Murawski and Paul Thomas Anderson. I was really curious to see if Bob and Eli would skewer me for using the David Hess song.

Why would they skewer you?

Well, for the reason that I used it exactly how it was used in The Last House on the Left [1972]. I mean, exactly. Not sort of, kind of. Exactly. And whenever I’ve used music before I’ve never used it exactly the way it was used. But it just worked so well, I couldn’t not and then I thought that David Hess, who has passed on, would appreciate it, he would be happy about it. There’s something about David Hess scoring a Michael Madsen murder scene, there was something kind of beautiful about that.

But now more people will know it on a mass scale. In addition to putting actors back in the spotlight, you’ve also helped resurrect, to a mass audience – because music aficionados always listened to it anyway – the music of Dick Dale and Link Wray.

Yes, Link Wray. Jim McBride uses Link Wray perfectly throughout Breathless [1983].

Like Morricone and Wray, who are both classic and incredibly experimental and far ahead of their time – Morricone with his whip cracks and howling animal sounds, and then Link Wray was experimenting with sound by poking holes in amps, recording in a chicken coop, much of this due to budget constraints too – you did the same with cinema language, which doesn’t date the work…

Well, Pulp Fiction [1994] and Reservoir Dogs [1991] in particular, and the black suits go a long way to help it out because they give it that timeless quality, which, in their own way, the dusters give Leone or the trench coats give Jean-Pierre Melville, or the sleek sharkskin suit that the yakuza guys wear in the Takakura Ken movies from the 60s and into the 70s.
Interview by Kim Morgan, Sight & Sound, February 2016

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
©: Visiona Romantica Inc.
Presented by: The Weinstein Company
Executive Producers: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Georgia Kacandes
Produced by: Richard N. Gladstein, Stacey Sher, Shannon McIntosh
Unit Production Managers: Marc Hammer, Georgia Kacandes
Production Accountant: M. Ross Michaels
Location Manager: John Minor
Post-production Supervisor: Tina Anderson
1st Assistant Director: William Paul Clark
Script Supervisor: Martin ‘The Cobra’ Kitrosser
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Director of Photography: Robert Richardson
Still Photographer: Andrew Cooper
Visual Effects Designed by: John Dykstra
Visual Effects by: Method Studios, Scanline
Special Effects Co-ordinator: Bruno Van Zeebroeck
Film Editor: Fred Raskin
Production Designer: Yohei Taneda
Art Director: Ben Edelberg
Set Decorator: Rosemary Brandenburg
Costume Designer: Courtney Hoffman
Head of Department, Make-up: Heba Thorisdottir
Special Make-up Effects by: Gregory Nicotero, Howard Berger
Head of Department, Hair: Camille Friend
Title Designer: Jay Johnson
65mm/70mm Film Lab: FotoKem
Colour by: FotoKem
Music Composed and Orchestrated by: Ennio Morricone
Score Performed by: Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Music Supervisor: Mary Ramos-Oden
Production Sound Mixer: Mark Ulano
Re-recording Mixers: Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler
Supervising Sound Editors: Wylie Stateman, Harry Cohen
Stunt Co-ordinator: Jeff Dashnaw
Weapons Specialist: Thell Reed
Unit Publicist: William Casey
Digital Intermediate by: Shed

Samuel L. Jackson (Major Marquis Warren)
Kurt Russell (John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Daisy Domergue)
Walton Goggins (Chris Mannix)
Demián Bichir (Bob)
Tim Roth (Oswaldo Mobray)
Michael Madsen (Joe Gage)
Bruce Dern (General Sanford Smithers)
James Parks (O.B. Jackson)
Dana Gourrier (Minnie Mink)
Zoë Bell (Six-Horse Judy)
Lee Horlsley (Ed)
Gene Jones (Sweet Dave)
Keith Jefferson (Charly)
Craig Stark (Chester Charles Smithers)
Belinda Owino (Gemma)
Channing Tatum (Jody)

USA 2015©
167 mins

The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri)
Sun 1 Aug 15:10; Wed 25 Aug 14:30
The Sounds of Ennio Morricone
Mon 2 Aug 18:10
A Fistful of Dollars (Per un pugno di dollari)
Mon 2 Aug 20:45; Sat 7 Aug 11:30; Tue 10 Aug 20:50; Mon 30 12:20
Two Mules for Sister Sara
Wed 4 Aug 18:00; Sat 21 Aug 20:30
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Salò o Le 120 giornate di Sodoma)
Thu 5 Aug 20:45; Tue 10 Aug 17:45; Wed 25 Aug 17:50
The Untouchables
Fri 6 Aug 17:45; Tue 24 Aug 14:30
The Thing
Fri 6 Aug 20:50; Tue 24 Aug 20:50
For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più)
Sat 7 Aug 14:00; Sun 22 Aug 12:10; Mon 30 Aug 15:00
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
Sat 7 Aug 17:10; Sun 29 Aug 18:20; Mon 30 Aug 18:15
White Dog
Sat 7 Aug 20:50; Fri 20 Aug 18:10; Fri 27 Aug 20:45
Once upon a Time in the West (C’era una volta il west)
Sun 8 Aug 12:00; Fri 27 Aug 14:00; Tue 31 Aug 14:00
The Mission
Sun 8 Aug 15:10; Thu 12 Aug 20:30; Thu 26 Aug 18:00
Days of Heaven
Mon 9 Aug 21:00; Tue 31 Aug 17:50
Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (Atame!)
Wed 11 Aug 20:50; Thu 19 Aug 14:15; Mon 23 Aug 21:00; Tue 31 Aug 20:45
The Hateful Eight
Sun 15 Aug 15:00; Sun 22 Aug 18:00
Once upon a Time in America
Tue 17 Aug 17:40; Sat 28 Aug 11:20
The Legend of 1900 (La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano)
Sat 21 Aug 11:50; Sun 29 Aug 15:10
Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)
Sat 21 Aug 14:30; Thu 26 Aug 14:30

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