Quentin Tarantino is known for his unique film style and storylines which oftentimes carry moments that both shock and disgust viewers. He has generated a solid fan base over the years with classics such as Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, and a recent fan favorite Django Unchained. His latest film, The Hateful Eight, was highly anticipated by those who have followed his work throughout the years. It has already gained a reputation for being extremely violent. But for the company of C.F. Martin it was upsetting for a different reason entirely.
The Hateful Eight follows the story of a bounty hunter named John Ruth (played by Kurt Russell) who is trying to bring outlaw Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) to be hanged. The two end up being trapped by a snowstorm and are forced to take refuge in a cabin that is frequented by outlaws. Leigh’s character carries a guitar with her throughout the film – the now infamous 1870s Martin. The guitar was being borrowed by Tarantino from the Martin Guitar Museum, which displays around 200 of its 1200 guitars from its collection at any given time. Said to be worth upwards of $40,000 this particular antique per agreement was only being used for closeup shots in the film. Any other time actors used one of six cheap but exact replicas that were made for the film.
In one scene Leigh’s character is playing her guitar while Russell listens. At first he seems to be enjoying the song she is playing but soon becomes enraged. This is where things took a turn for the worst. Before the scene was shot, Tarantino was thought to have switched out the original 1870s Martin for one of the replicas. Russell picked up the guitar and proceeded to smash it but quickly realized based off of the sound that the guitar made when it was destroyed that he had in fact destroyed the extremely rare, priceless antique. It is clear by the look on both his and Leigh’s faces that they are genuinely shocked. Tarantino was said to just stand back behind the camera with a sly smile looking completely unfazed, leading many to believe that this was actually done on purpose in order to get the reaction from the actors that he was looking for.
Whether the destruction of this classic piece of American music history was done on purpose or was indeed an accident it was a crushing blow to the executives at C.F. Martin. Although Martin received insurance money for the price of the guitar it was about so much more than that to those who had a true appreciation for the piece. As C.F. Martin spokesman said, “It’s not about the money. It’s about the preservation of American musical history and heritage.” Needless to say Martin has stated that they will no longer be lending out their instruments to any movie companies for any films ever again.