Ennio Morricone’s credits span far beyond the role of film composer, touching upon pop-song arrangement and avant-garde free improvisation. But it’s indeed his scores for the movies, now totaling deep into the hundreds, which have brought him his highest acclaim; if one desires to absorb the possibilities of cinematic composition as art, engagement with Morricone’s oeuvre is a prerequisite, and that one would not err in choosing the soundtrack to The Hateful Eight is testament to his greatness. It’s out now in a splendid 2LP gatefold edition exclusively through Third Man; folks in Nashville and Detroit can scoop up the ludicrously elaborate box set.
The critical response to The Hateful Eight, the final entry in Quentin Tarantino’s bloodily ambitious historical trilogy following Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, has been fairly wide-ranging; one area of general consensus is Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack, his first for Hollywood since 2002’s Ripley’s Game. It’s already won a Golden Globe and will be competing for Best Original Score in this year’s Academy Awards, where many have it favored; improbably (though not really), the composer’s never won an Oscar.
Morricone’s finished work eschews the twang-filled atmosphere of his defining contributions to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone in favor of the darker environments of his giallo and horror scores, particularly his collaboration with John Carpenter on his classic The Thing, of which three themes were reused for The Hateful Eight.
“Eternity,” “Bestiality,” and “Despair” surface alongside “Regan’s Theme (Floating Sound)” from John Boorman’s wonderfully wacko Exorcist II: The Heretic, though none are on the soundtrack. As Tarantino borrowed Morricone’s stuff on all of his films since and including both halves of the Kill Bill saga, the reuse of extant material falls squarely into place.