The Martin Guitar Museum lent an authentic, 1870s-era Martin guitar for use in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and now condemns the destruction of the priceless instrument.
In the film, Jennifer Jason Leigh — playing the role of Daisy Domergue — picks up a six-string guitar and plays a quiet and haunting song, a tune enjoyed by viewers and well remembered for its effect on the menacing proceedings inside Minnie’s Haberdashery.
As the scene concludes, Kurt Russell’s character grabs hold of the guitar in a fit of rage and smashes it, announcing “Music time’s over.” While Daisy Domergue looked horrified in the film itself, it turns out Jennifer Jason Leigh’s look of horror was completely genuine, as Russell had just destroyed a 145-year-old priceless antique.
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Reportedly, the plan was to swap out the antique guitar for a replica before the scene concluded, but something went wrong. After some kind of miscommunication, Kurt Russell was reportedly unaware of the plan to replace the guitar with a replica and he went on and destroyed the genuine article.
Mark Ulano, sound mixer for The Hateful Eight, explained the scene was to be shot to a certain point, then a cut was to be made while the guitar was swapped out for the replica, so that Russell could smash that instead at the end of the scene.
“Well, somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer’s reaction is genuine.”
Watch the scene where he smashes the guitar below. Little did viewers know at the time that Jennifer wasn’t just acting.
According to an article in Reverb, the museum that owned said antique guitar had never previously heard the true story of what happened to their priceless exhibit. Reportedly, the Martin Guitar Museum was told an “accident” had happened on set, and they took this to mean something may have accidentally fallen on the guitar or some other unforeseen event had occurred.
Now they know that the guitar was smashed to smithereens by an actor in the film, they see the situation a little differently and are just plain angry at the situation.
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According to Dick Boak, director of the Martin Guitar Museum and director of special projects for C.F. Martin & Co., this is the last time they will lend guitars for use in movies, under any circumstances.
Boak said they were informed about the accident on set and assumed a scaffolding or something similar had fallen on it.
“We understand that things happen, but at the same time we can’t take this lightly. All this about the guitar being smashed being written into the script and that somebody just didn’t tell the actor, this is all new information to us.
“We didn’t know anything about the script or Kurt Russell not being told that it was a priceless, irreplaceable artifact from the Martin Museum.”
While the museum has been remunerated for the insurance value of the iconic antique guitar, Boak says it is not about the money and he wants people to know the incident was very distressing to the museum.
“We can’t believe that it happened. I don’t think anything can really remedy this. We’ve been remunerated for the insurance value, but it’s not about the money. It’s about the preservation of American musical history and heritage.”
According to the original story in Reverb, they made it sound like the museum wasn’t particularly angry about the incident and that the museum asked for the pieces of the guitar so they could be displayed, saying an antique guitar smashed by Russell in The Hateful Eight was worthy for a place of honor in and of itself.
However as reported by Cinema Blend, this story turned out to be untrue and Boak said they actually wanted the pieces of the broken instrument so they could attempt to restore the priceless antique guitar. Once they saw the extent of the damage to the guitar, however, they realized restoration was impossible.
Listen to the full, controversial song in the video included below.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]