Earlier today came the tragic news that legendary composer Ennio Morricone had passed away at the age of 91. The iconic musician had lent his creativity to over 500 films and television shows across his career, notably rising to prominence with his work in the Spaghetti Western sub-genre including his collaborations with Sergio Leone on classics like A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. His most recent work that film fans around the world heaped praise upon was his collaborations with director Quentin Tarantino including his 2015 feature film, The Hateful Eight, with Tarantino now reacting to Morricone's death publicly.
Via the Twitter account for his New Beverly Cinemas theater, Tarantino wrote: ”The King is dead. Long live the King!” His caption came coupled with a photo of the two taken when working on their final collaboration. Morricone's score for The Hateful Eight netted him his only Academy Award win, grabbing the Best Original Score Oscar, coming nine years after he was given an Honorary Award "For his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." He was previously nominated five times for the Best Original Score award.
Since working together, reported quotes from Morricone were published where he disparaged Tarantino's films and work as a director. The composer flatly denied these at the time, writing in a statement on his website: "I consider Tarantino a great director. I am very fond of my collaboration with him and the relationship we have developed during the time we have spent together. He is courageous and has an enormous personality. I credit our collaboration responsible for getting me an Oscar, which is for sure one of the greatest acknowledgments of my career, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to compose music for his film."
”The King is dead. Long live the King!” - Quentin Tarantino pic.twitter.com/trsdKp9CIH— New Beverly Cinema (@newbeverly) July 6, 2020
Morricone and Tarantino also worked together on his 2012 movie Django Unchained, with Morricone and Italian singer Elisa creating the track "Ancora Qui" for the film. Prior to that the filmmaker had also used tracks created by Morricone for some of his other films including both volumes of Kill Bill, Death Proof, and Inglorious Basterds.
For his score on The Hateful Eight, Morricone repurposed music he had previously written for John Carpenter's The Thing, but which the director did not use for his 1982 horror film. In addition he wrote more original music as well though, as Tarantino recounted in a 2015 Q&A hosted by Christopher Nolan at the Director's Guild: "I think he literally sat down that night and started composing the theme that he was talking about and got more inspired, and came up with more music. And then all of a sudden ten minutes of music became seventeen minutes of music, became thirty-five minutes of music. And so with that, and the unused ‘Thing’ portions that I used, [I’ve got] my original score."
In conversation with Morricone for Deadline at the time, Tarantino had further praise for the late composer's Oscar winning work on The Hateful Eight, saying: "I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be a Western score. I knew he’d respond to the drama of the story and, frankly, he gave me a horror movie score, to some degrees a Giallo score, complete with a diabolical music box that comes in from time to time. It was perfect for the movie."
(Cover Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Universal Music)