Ennio Morricone Says Quentin Tarantino Uses Music "Without Coherence" & Says He "Won't Work With Him Again"

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by Kevin Jagernauth
March 15, 2013 11:52 AM
65 Comments
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With "Django Unchained" galloping its way to over $400 million worldwide, winning Quentin Tarantino another Oscar (leading to one of the most self-serving acceptance speeches of the year), it's hard to argue that the director has never been hotter. With critical acclaim and a core mainstream audience, the dude can do whatever he wants at this point, but it looks like he's lost the cooperation of one major figure and influence on his work: Ennio Morricone.

The legendary composer featured prominently on the soundtrack to 'Django' with a handful of cuts from his catalog of movie work, along with "Ancora Qui," a brand new piece written just for the movie. But it seems the experience was not a good one, and Morricone reveals that Tarantino's methods didn't inspire the creative space he needed.

“I wouldn’t like to work with him again, on anything,” Morricone candidly told students at Rome’s LUISS University (via THR). “He said last year he wanted to work with me again ever since 'Inglourious Basterds,' but I told him I couldn't, because he didn’t give me enough time. So he just used a song I had written previously.”

But perhaps the biggest bit of burn sauce Morricone pours on Tarantino -- long celebrated for combining edgy tunes with provocative images -- is about his skill at utilizing music. He “places music in his films without coherence" he said adding that "you can't do anything with someone like that." Ouch.

And as for 'Django'? Morricone isn't a fan. "To tell the truth, I didn't care for it," he said. "Too much blood."

What this means for Tarantino using Morricone's music down the line will be fascinating to see. The pair worked together on 'Basterds' as well as "Kill Bill," and Morricone's signature sound has been prominent over his last few pictures. Granted, the composer might not have too much say as the rights may be controlled by the record companies, depending on the movie and score (and given his massive body of work, it's probably pretty complicated) but it's enough to give some pause.

But what do you think? Is Morricone right, does Tarantino sometimes mash up things that shouldn't belong? Or is he totally out of touch? Moreover, if Tarantino needs to find a new composer to re-contextualize, whose music do you want to see him work with? Weigh in below.

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65 Comments

  • Wayne | May 26, 2013 6:57 AMReply

    Ennio did the music for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and so many other classics. He probably think Tarantino is such a casual tourist in his world. Then again after working with Sergio, so many other directors must look like hacks.

  • mustafa mudathir | April 3, 2013 6:31 PMReply

    I love Tarantino's movies. I adore Morricone's music. Tarantino is smart but clumsy.
    I doubt if he really appreciate music the way Morricone meant. But on the other hand the cinematic moment could have its ragged edges. So much so that it is better to leave things up to the filmmaker. It's only part of his creation. But the point is why Morricone allows the use of his old music in new movies?

  • Rodney | March 21, 2013 7:16 PMReply

    I'd be happy to take his place.

  • Chris | March 21, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    He said there's too much blood? And he worked on Kill Bill with Quentin? Makes sense.................

  • Brian | March 21, 2013 10:06 AMReply

    I've always been a fan of the use of music in Tarantino's films, and I don't agree that there's "no coherence" to its use. That said, while I'm sure Morricone worked with many directors in his career, I think it's safe to say that he's most closely associated with Sergio Leone. It's widely known that Tarantino is a massive Leone fan (some might say he even rips Leone off -- or is it an homage? where's the line?), and I think it would bode well for Tarantino to find an obscure composer and help to put him/her on the map as Leone did with Morricone.

  • marie | March 21, 2013 7:41 AMReply

    He's right. The music really didn't work in "Django". Such a shame to make such poor use of a great talent.

  • director101 | March 20, 2013 11:43 AMReply

    Some day, film students will look back on Tarantino the way that novelists reflect on Edward Bulwer-Lytton: a hack who was popular in his day, but who ultimately is remembered as a joke.

  • Alan R | March 20, 2013 2:14 PM

    well put

  • Lapdance | March 20, 2013 10:44 AMReply

    Q should use songs from the Sherman Brothers for his next film, a re-imagining of 'Marcus Welby M.D.', only now set during the heady days of World War I. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" can accompany scenes of the storming of the German trench lines; "Feed the Birds" will help illustrate soldiers' extreme hunger as they devour carrier pigeons; "Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies" plays as we see the lone hero Marcus wandering the desolate landscape; etc.

  • Thunder Crack | March 19, 2013 8:38 AMReply

    This entire article rings false.
    Lets be clear - Morricone didn't score any music specifically for Django or Basterds.
    So therefore, since you got that very important part wrong, how can we take any of it seriously??
    So much horrible writing on the Internet- it's best we start to complain loudly about ill informed but opinionated typists.

  • Thunder Crack | March 19, 2013 8:38 AMReply

    This entire article rings false.
    Lets be clear - Morricone didn't score any music specifically for Django or Basterds.
    So therefore, since you got that very important part wrong, how can we take any of it seriously??
    So much horrible writing on the Internet- it's best we start to complain loudly about ill informed but opinionated typists.

  • Sounds likeapleb | March 18, 2013 6:32 PMReply

    to me

  • Bill Wheeler | March 18, 2013 6:15 PMReply

    I don't care either way, I don't watch qt pictures. I just like writing on internet movie comment boards, it makes me feel all inside-y!

  • Peter Levy | March 18, 2013 2:09 PMReply

    If Morricone says Tarantino doesn't know what he's doing, then Tarantino doesn't know what he's doing. Tarantino is not right about everything, you know. He's not a perfect filmmaker.

  • Brian | March 21, 2013 10:11 AM

    Well, Morricone's opinion is certainly one that is deserving of credence, but nevertheless - it IS just an opinion. There's no reason to treat his opinion as a basis in fact, because it's not. I happen to think that Tarantino's use of music in his films is pretty damn good, and I certainly don't think there's "no coherence" to it. One of the best moments in Django Unchained was toward the end, right when Django escapes from the group of Australians transporting him and two other slaves, and rides off on horseback to rescue Broom Hilda. The music that swells up (a contemporary song, not a Morricone piece) as he rides off, perfectly suited the shot and the moment. That said, you're right about Tarantino in that he's not perfect. There's no such thing, really.

  • Steve Golla | March 18, 2013 12:23 PMReply

    I feel that Ennio is out of touch. While Tarantino's pictures have become the vanguard of a Neo-exploitation movement, certainly his stylistic use of music is the banner guard of the movement. Tarantino recognizes in Morricone a signpost to the past as well as a bridge to what lies ahead. Ennio could be grateful; Quinton, in large part , is why Morricone is still in the discussion. I know he is brilliant by his own right,but his collabaration with Tarantino has kept him cool and hip.

    If it's no longer to be I can see a Warren Ellis, Nick Cave, Tarantino collabaration. That no doubt would be very cool.

  • Helgi | March 17, 2013 2:53 PMReply

    Ennio Morricone does not need anyone to live on thru his music. He is an absolute master but sadly only Sergio Leone could make it perfect. What a vast difference between Sergio Leone and QT.

  • Abe | March 16, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    Nice one on the guy who said goblin from the old Dario horror films. I would love to hear qt use some more stuff from those old blaxploitation films. In addition, to maybe Phillip glass, John cage style stuff

  • Abe | March 16, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    Nice one on the guy who said goblin from the old Dario horror films. I would love to hear qt use some more stuff from those old blaxploitation films. In addition, to maybe Phillip glass, John cage style stuff

  • Overnight Failure | March 16, 2013 3:30 PMReply

    So, wait... I'm confused. The new track Morricone provided was written just for the film or not? Was it simply previously unreleased and thusly a "new" song, or was the specific intention for it to be used in Django?

  • Chuck | March 15, 2013 10:40 PMReply

    In an age where moviechucks are often more of the same you can count on Tarantino to deliver something fresh and surprising. I always get a big smile when watching a T movie.

  • Anthony Linden Jones | March 15, 2013 10:25 PMReply

    Morricone would still retain the moral rights to the use of his music. The film producers, not record companies, would own the production rights on the actual recordings. Morricone is not unsavvy — he would not sign away his rights to the control of his music.

    Personally, I thought the blanket placement of other people's music in both Kill Bills particularly odd.

    Similarly, the use of an extended cue from Vertigo in the 2011 film The Artist (reportedly as a tribute) was uncomfortable. It did not at all suit the scene, and so changed our whole perception of the music.

  • sam | March 15, 2013 9:05 PMReply

    he's not out of touch. it just looks like they don't approach film music the same way.

  • Battlo | March 15, 2013 8:32 PMReply

    Suggest he use the music of Bela Bartok.....its just as incomprehensible....

  • Say | March 15, 2013 8:23 PMReply

    QT can get his favorite pop bands to do scores on pop instruments then transfer those tunes onto orchestra instrumentals.

  • SAY | March 15, 2013 8:28 PM

    QT can get his favorite pop bands to do scores USING pop instruments then transfer those tunes USING orchestra instruments.

  • Glass | March 15, 2013 7:22 PMReply

    Inglourious and Django are really good movies, but I kind of agree w/ Morricone on the incoherence. There's no transition - it's a lot of LOUD SONG BEGINS, KEEPS GOING, stops dead when it cuts to a scene with totally different energy... Like when Shoshanna is killed in the end of Inglourious and it's this huge glorious moment, music blaring, then it cuts to Eli Roth and the other guy in the bathroom getting ready, with no music.

  • sam | March 15, 2013 9:08 PM

    it would be incoherent if Tarantino wasn't aware of the jarring effects these jumps produce; but he uses music and jarring cuts to get reactions out of the audience--which, every time i've watched a Tarantino film in a theatre, it produces. incoherence is in the eye of the beholder, imo.

  • Burns | March 15, 2013 5:18 PMReply

    Without Tarantino, most of this generation would be like.... "Ennio Morri-who?"

    Truth.

  • Gustavo | March 17, 2013 8:10 PM

    Then the problem is with most of this generation, not with Morricone.

  • In Your Face | March 15, 2013 6:11 PM

    Without Morricone and all the films that existed BEFORE Tarantino, he would have no career because he wouldn't be able to blatantly steal other people ideas and music already used in other films. TRUTH

  • Chris | March 15, 2013 4:33 PMReply

    Would love to see him work with Goblin's music ala Argento. Morricone should be happy someone is reintroducing his work - he sound crotchety, whiny.

  • Louise | March 15, 2013 4:27 PMReply

    I disagree with Morricone. Tarantino doesn't just slap music into a film - I think the Fur Elise by Beethoven used in Django was pretty clever - the scene references Hans Landa from "Basterds" and Christoph's role in The Three Musketeers.

  • nigginaggi | March 16, 2013 11:17 AM

    Agreed with Louise. To me Tarantino is a whiz that uses/steals/reimagines in a clever way most of the time. Regarding "Für Elise" - it clearly references "Clockwork Orange" as well since Waltz's character is becoming so uneasy when it is played and afterwards he says "I couldn't resist!".

  • Scott Sandrock | March 15, 2013 3:12 PMReply

    "No, no, no. Actors aren't there to riff. They're there to say the dialogue. Uma [Thurman] had a quote once that's really true. She said that when actors improvise, if they're not just adding mmms and ahs, then that is all writing. And that is not what you hire an actor to do. You hire an actor to learn the lines and say them. Now there are exceptions to that. Sam Jackson is the exception. " - Quentin Tarantino in his own words

    Not that I want to get into a whole thing here Kirk Lazarus, but I don't know all the facts, so I only speak to what I know. That said "campaign for PTA"? I like Anderson a lot. He might be my favorite director. But, I like Tarantino too. I wasn't campaigning, I was just clearly pointing out that 2 great artists have a different, yet dare I say equal, style of working. I don't know why you're coming at me and attacking me. Besides, I'm talking about improvisation. DiCaprio did not write or improvise the phrenology dialogue. Tarantino wrote it. The subject matter was DiCaprio's idea. That's collaboration, not improvisation. These are the facts I know.

  • P-DUB | March 15, 2013 4:21 PM

    You're in the right, KL is the one who doesn't have the facts. Tarantino would never allow anyone to improv a big speech like that in the film.

    It is a simple matter of two people approaching things very differently. There have been plenty of great directors who didn't allow improv on their sets (The Coens come to mind). There is no one way to do it.

  • Bob Roberts | March 15, 2013 2:59 PMReply

    I disagree with Morricone's view of QT's career in general. But I agree with Jason, Django was his weakest usage of music yet. I didn't think the Croce song was the worst. But that John Legend song used when Jaime Foxx is galloping back was really bad. Tupac song is awesome then it cuts off abruptly. Django was such an odd movie. Basterds was so precise and detailed and well thought out. Django in relation was just sloppy. Especially the music. And it was such an obvious usage of song the have the theme the "Django" dum dum dum opens "Django Unchained". Like yeah we get it same name, same song. Just like the scene with Franco Nero. QT never made such obvious such wink-wink-nudge-nudge references in any of his movies. Why now? Anyways Morricone wrong in general but for Django it's merited. Hope QT isn't becoming that old director he's so worried about becoming because I have a bunch of fun at nearly all his movies.

  • Kirk lazarus | March 15, 2013 2:56 PMReply

    I disagree with Scott sanrock.i think Tarantino encourages improvisation.phrenology,skull dialogue is Dicaprio's idea.its not in the script.know the facts completely before you campaign for PTA

  • Django | March 15, 2013 8:49 PM

    Lazarus, Tarantino did the improvising himself by re-writing the scenes. He's done this on all of his films.

  • Kirk lazarus | March 15, 2013 2:56 PMReply

    I disagree with Scott sanrock.i think Tarantino encourages improvisation.phrenology,skull dialogue is Dicaprio's idea.its not in the script.know the facts completely before you campaign for PTA

  • Les grossman | March 15, 2013 2:45 PMReply

    Tarantino rediscovered Ennio morricone for the 21st century.Ennio owes Tarantino for making him more popular with the present generation.feel sad to see Morricone,my favourite composer,talk that way.it sounds ridiculous.do people get bitchy when they get old?

  • Calum Hughes | March 15, 2013 3:14 PM

    I hardly think Ennio Morricone needs Tarantino to be "rediscovered". Admittedly the use of 'Navajo Joe' in Kill Bill was awesome but it's pretty hard for anyone to forget the music to 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'. They probably do get bitchy but this is Morricone here.

  • Scott Sanrock | March 15, 2013 2:43 PMReply

    The issue here is a disagreement about the use of music in film. Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Altman encourage (encouraged) improvisation. Tarantino and David Mamet become bothered when actors diverge from the written material. It's just a different way of working. When Sergio Leone made Once Upon A Time In The West, Morricone completed the film's score before filming began. The music was used on set to influence the performances. Tarantino does not like music written for his films, he does not like to tell the audience how to feel. These ways are not better or worse, they are just different. We all have personal preferences, as do great film artists and composers. Obviously this is a case of 2 great artists whose personalities and working styles do not mesh, although I can assure both of them that their artistic sensibilities go very well together, and I hope Morricone reconsiders this feelings, and perhaps Tarantino reconsiders his working style to be more thoughtful to a LEGEND like Morricone.

  • hank | March 15, 2013 2:38 PMReply

    "They worked together on Basterds and Kill Bill" ... They did? I was always under the impression Tarantino just licensed his past work.

  • Django | March 15, 2013 8:52 PM

    You're right. There were some rumors about Morricone scoring Basterds, but that fell through because Morricone didn't feel like he had enough time.

  • Doyle Moyle | March 15, 2013 1:34 PMReply

    Absolute horseshit. The way QT uses music and many other cinematic elements for that matter is original and god bless him for that. He offers you a different experience from every other filmmaker out there and he should be celebrated for that, regardless of whether you enjoy his work or not.

    Just about every other mainstream filmmaker out there uses music in such a throwaway fashion. If any particular moment needs an emotion to be underlined, they'll use a generic pop song provided to them by the music supervisor to fill that gap and that'll be that. I enjoy how Quentin does the exact opposite of that, the piece of music or song is as vital as anything else on -screen. Not many filmmakers do that. For Morricone to criticize him for that is disingenuous and cranky. Leave it to the Italians to criticize anything that did not come from their shores, because they are the filmmaking and musical geniuses they used to be, right?

    Italy, a country for dinosaurs and relics... (Yes, I'm Italian, I know what I'm talking about)

  • Yod | March 17, 2013 10:24 PM

    Lou, Tarantino decended from Africa, like most black Americans. Ha!

  • Miike | March 17, 2013 10:15 AM

    Trust an italian to shit on their own culture like that. I guess that's typical of most people who criticize their own backyard while praising things further afield. Go back & listen to some of the italian soundtracks that Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani, Gianni Ferrio, Franco Micalizzi, Piero Piccioni, Bruno Nicolai etc have scored - they are unique & special in their own right. You will find a wealth of creative & ingenious music - as good as anything else - regardless whether they were for exploitation films or for films that copied American film. The starting point may have been the imitation of American films, however the end result turned into something different, & as rich & rewarding as the music & films they were influenced by.

    And if you want to talk about 'cannibalizing' someone's culture or film industry, well then, you don't have to look any further than Tarantino, who does that in spades. He's the film world's first fanboy film director, a tourist travelling in past genres, who's enthusiasm for these films overshadows his talent.

    Calling Morricone a prick whilst praising Tarantino? You can stop talking now.

  • Lou | March 16, 2013 5:15 PM

    Doyle, probably you are right that exploitation films cannibalizing American culture contributed to terminate Italian cinematography. However, I dare say that the films I refer to are really the worst of the worst. Therefore, Tarantino's manifest love for this kind of movies is really puzzling. Can we agree that this, in fact, shows bad taste or a form of affectation?

  • Doyle Moyle | March 15, 2013 11:20 PM

    Quentin is about as Italian as sushi. He's an American, just like everyone actor, actress, director you are probably referring to in your post. Filmmakers like Coppola and Scorsese tell stories involving Italian culture in America, don't get it twisted. Exploitation films did not destroy Italian cinema, the Italians cannibalizing American culture did. Go to Italy, their music, their films are poor imitations of American films/iconography. Morricone is being an egotistical prick. Tarantino is simply an artist who admires him, with enough talent to overcome his so-called "bad habit" of using other people's music. Everytime I go to a Tarantino film, it's an experience. I learn about films who influence him as well as music I did not know beforehand. He's a breath of fresh, why should he try to be like everyone else? And use music the same way everyone else does?

  • Lou | March 15, 2013 5:13 PM

    I am Italian too. Where do you think Tarantino originated from? Not to mention 80 per cent of America's best actors, directors, etc. I'd better not dwell on Tarantino's taste. He celebrated Italian pseudo-sexy films made in the seventies which are truly awful and which contributed to destroy Italian cinematography. Morricone is entitled to criticize whoever he wishes, especially on musical matters.

  • Mick | March 15, 2013 1:20 PMReply

    I'd like to see (or rather, hear) him work Cliff Martinez.

  • Doyle Moyle | March 15, 2013 11:10 PM

    Agree with whom, Micoy?

  • MicoY | March 15, 2013 2:21 PM

    I'm Italian too, and I perfectly agree with you...

  • bbbbb | March 15, 2013 1:16 PMReply

    Pino Donaggio

  • Chris138 | March 15, 2013 12:51 PMReply

    Ouch.

  • Jon | March 15, 2013 12:41 PMReply

    You guys really think he's being "out of touch"? So what if he doesn't think that QT uses his music in the right spots, it's HIS opinion and Ennio has certainly done enough in his career to voice it without being questioned by people who love everything Tarantino does. They're both icons in their own rights. The people who are cranky/out of touch are the fans...

  • Chris138 | March 15, 2013 12:50 PM

    Word. I love Django Unchained and all, but I think Morricone knows a thing or two more about music in film than Tarantino. After all, he was composing film scores when Quentin was still in the crib. Just sayin'.

  • bohmer | March 15, 2013 12:31 PMReply

    Ennio is out of touch here, he's being ridiculous. And can you be taken seriously when you say out loud that you didn't care for Tarantino's last and more obvious hommage to spaghetti western / morricone's work because its too bloody. Come on Ennio, do you really need that much attention.

    Anyway, the musical highlight for me in Django was the use of Jerry Goldsmith's Nicaragua. It's a shame Tarantino doesn't care about sci-fi, because Goldsmith music would fit him pretty well I think.

  • MAICOL | March 15, 2013 12:22 PMReply

    Ennio, god bless him, is being a cranky old man. He worked for Sergio Leone and several other stylish, violent directors - the film being too bloody shouldn't be a big deal at all.

  • Jason | March 15, 2013 12:16 PMReply

    I usually would disagree with Ennio here but I thought QT's use of music in Django was his weakest yet - that endless Jim Croce sequence! Ugh.

  • Kinick | March 15, 2013 12:43 PM

    One of the best parts of the movie

  • adam | March 15, 2013 12:05 PMReply

    I believe he only started using Morricone's music with Kill Bill. It would be good for him get out of that comfort zone and try something else like (perhaps) an original score written by someone he trusts.

  • bubbatwo420 | March 15, 2013 11:58 AMReply

    OUCH - I think Morricone is wrong here though, Quentin is a maestro and has brought his music into the 21st century in the best way possible. Ya his music is overused in some scenes but it all services the characters and tone and i for one love him for it. QT is gonna be butt-hurt by this statement as i think he holds morricone in highest regard. These old folks need to take a chill pill and stop insulting people who have kept them relevant.

  • Fred | March 15, 2013 2:28 PM

    If relevant in today's overused parlance has come to mean "known by the hip modern generation who only check out anything produced within their own active viewing years" then I don't think irrelevance would matter much to someone of the composer's accomplishments.

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