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(Credit: Shiny Penny)

When Kurt Russell smashed a 145-year-old guitar on a Quentin Tarantino set

American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is regularly cited as one of the greatest contemporary directors, revered for his cult-classics like Pulp Fiction as well as modern masterpieces including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Described as the “single most influential filmmaker of our generation,” Tarantino has captured the imaginations of audiences all over the world with his violently subversive works.

Tarantino’s 2015 revisionist western, The Hateful Eight, is his tribute to one of his favourite cinematic genres – the iconic western. Featuring a stellar cast consisting of stars like Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh, among others, The Hateful Eight follows the story of a bounty hunter who gets caught in the middle of a snowstorm along with his already captured target.

While discussing the project in an interview, Tarantino insisted that the final product was completely different from the initials plans that were chalked up: “I made it ambiguous, as is almost everything about this script. It’s kind of up for you to decide about almost every important aspect in the piece that reveals itself. But in the script, I actually wrote that it takes place six, eight, or ten years after the Civil War.”

Adding, “The film that I ended up making ends up being a really serious examination of both the Civil War and the post Civil War survivors. But I really was coming more from a mystery angle, creating a little Agatha Christie thing. That was what got me putting pen to paper. Obviously, I knew I was going to deal with the Civil War. But I didn’t know it would end up being so serious when it came to that issue.”

When it comes to Tarantino’s projects, there are always bizarre stories about the production process which surface later, and this one is no different. For the making of The Hateful Eight, Martin Guitar Museum loaned a priceless 145-year-old guitar as a prop for a film. However, that guitar never made it out of that set in one piece.

The script actually involved Kurt Russell smashing the replica of the same guitar which was made specifically for that scene. Unfortunately, Russell did not know which was the real guitar and ended up destroying the antique six-string instead. According to sound mixer Mark Ulano, everyone started panicking when they realised that it was the real thing that Russell had destroyed. As for Tarantino, the filmmaker reportedly took pleasure in seeing the look of pure shock on Jennifer Jason Leigh’s face.

The museum’s director Dick Boak issued a statement which said: “We were informed that it was an accident on set. We assumed that a scaffolding or something fell 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 artefact from the Martin Museum … 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.”

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