If there has been a more prolific composer in the history of movies than Ennio Morricone, I don’t know who it is. The Maestro,
Though this is not one of Harvey Weinstein’s biggest Oscar years as he has no Best Picture candidate, TWC does look poised to sweep the music categories — not only with Morricone’s Hateful Eight score but also the Lady Gaga-Diane Warren song “Til It Happens To You” from TWC/Radius’ The Hunting Ground. I have to think it is feeling very sweet for Weinstein to have the film that looks like it will finally do it for this legendary composer. It also was one of Weinstein’s films, Malena in 2000, that represented the last nomination Morricone received before this one 15 years later. I recall at the (then-Miramax) pre-Oscar party Weinstein threw at the Beverly Wilshire, Morricone sat down and had guests rapt when he played that film’s lilting, romantic theme.
For someone this accomplished, you would not expect him to be surprised at yet another run for Oscar, but he told me he was. “No, I never expected any of the nominations to the Oscars, including this one, so this came as a surprise, really, ” he said, while also recalling the night when he received that honorary award nearly a decade ago. “I was very, very nervous, and it was a very touching moment for me. And I think that in case I am going to get another Oscar this time, I will be equally moved and touched.”
Morricone said he was was very impressed by the amount of creative license Tarantino gave him, unlike some other helmers he was worked with. “Actually, Quentin Tarantino didn’t give me any kind of specific indication. He didn’t express any requirements, so this gave me a lot of freedom. But at the same time, it put on me a much bigger responsibility. I was motivated only by the willingness to do better than I had done in the past and to give him a unique score,” he said, confirming that he wrote the score only from reading the actual script and not seeing any footage from the film.
“Yes. It is absolutely true,” he said. “But in this case the script was so full of details; every single sequence, every single gesture of any of the actors was so full of detail — sometimes even too many. But anyhow, it was so full of detail that it led me to imagining how Tarantino would want it. After meeting him, I could easily imagine what the scene would have been like.” But unlike just about anyone who has seen this movie, Morricone told me he doesn’t look at it as a pure Western, certainly not like those he did in the past. “For me this is absolutely not a Western movie,” he said. “For me, it’s a drama
Tarantino actually told me that when he first heard some of the music, it struck him as sounding more horror movie-like in some ways. For Morricone, who should have won an Oscar for The Mission, he has his own “mission,” and that is to give each director something completely new compared to what he has done previously. “I know that my music is recognizable because there are some features in my style that are recognizable,” he said, “but my wish, my aspiration would be to give each director the music he deserves — the music that is completely different from what I have done before.”
Morricone still likes composing film music after all these years, but he also loves and devotes much of his time to composing what he terms as “absolute music” or that which can stand alone and is not dependent on anybody else. He is also back on the concert tour trail in Europe and played several dates already this year with more to come this spring. He enjoys conducting his music in big arenas. “The live concert is the way to prove that , without the images of the film, the music that I wrote intended for a film can also live on its own,” he said.
OK, Quentin, we movie music and Morricone lovers of the world are holding you to this one.
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