Starring: Quentin Tarantino, John Williams, Clint Eastwood
Runtime: 156 mins. Reviewed in Dec 2022
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
A documentary on the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone.
Ennio (not ‘Any Oh!’ as Dragon Speech Registration prints out) but the Ennio. The Italian maestro, Ennio Morricone. Practically everyone recognises the whistle of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and the beats and flutes of The Mission. And, by the time of his death in 2020, aged 91, he was revered in music circles worldwide.
It is important to note this film has been directed by Giuseppe Tornatore for whom Morricone scored Cinema Paradiso and The Legend of 1900. Tornatore pays tribute himself but also includes an enormous range of luminaries including Americans such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Quincy Jones and Bruce Springsteen, and many admiring directors, Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Terrence Malick, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffe, Bruce Levinson, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci and Kar-Wai Wong. No shortage of admirers. As we all are.
There is so much in the movie, that many will want to see it again. Yes, it contains the key phases in Morricone’s biography but it is also a portrait, so much of the material from interviews with Morricone himself, at different stages of his life and career, so that we spend a great deal of time with him. But, overall, it is a masterclass in musical composition, a great deal of theory and explanations (and challenges), a great amount of music to be heard on the score.
The first section is a must for students of composition. Film lovers will have to be patient but will have an opportunity to understand the richness of the compositions, arrangements and orchestrations, choice of instruments (and sounds) which will enhance hearing the music they love.
Then the portrait moves to his film scores, Italian features and television of the first half of the 1960s, his wariness about working on film scores and their status in musical composition, the beginnings of his collaboration with Sergio Leone for all of his films for 20 years, from Fistful of Dollars to Once Upon a Time in America, then his work on so many spaghetti westerns, Italian gialli (pulp fictions) as well as for celebrated Italian directors, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and then an increasingly surprising number of American films.
The audience was stunned in 1986 when he did not win the Oscar for The Mission (and scenes of producer, Lord David Putnam, apologising), and finally a tribute with an Oscar for Life Achievement.
As he grew older, he worked on more classical styles and orchestrations and toured widely, live concerts as well as television concerts.
There is an interesting postscript for film lovers and buffs with him, aged 85, being persuaded by Quentin Tarantino to score The Hateful 8, and the accolade of winning the music Oscar in his own right.
While this is a review, it is also an encouragement to see (and hear) Ennio.
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