Since it’s Film Friday today, I’d normally come up with a film from my list of favourites for the occassion.
But not today.
Today I’m going to write about one of the world’s best composers of film music, Ennio Morricone, who died on Monday 6 July 2020 at the age of 91.
Ennio Morricone was an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and trumpet player who wrote music in a wide range of styles and composed over 400 scores for cinema and television, as well as over 100 classical works. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to present all 500 of them to you, only a mere three. And I hope that you’ll add to the list in your comments!)
His score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history
From 1960 to 1975, Morricone gained international fame for composing music for Westerns and—with an estimated 10 million copies sold—Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the best-selling scores worldwide.
In 2016 he received his only competitive Academy Award for his score to Quentin Tarantino’s film The Hateful Eight, at the time becoming the oldest person ever to win a competitive Oscar.
His work influenced many artists from film scoring to other styles and genres, including two of my favourite bands – MUSE and Radiohead – as well as the German film score composer Hans Zimmer.
If you have read any of my previous Film Friday posts, you know how important the film score generally is to me – in my mind, film and music have to go hand in hand in order to achieve that the viewer feels fully immersed in the world that she or he chose to live in for approx. 90 minutes.
Because you can’t seperate the two – Ennio Morricone and western – the first score is from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, which I have watched about a hundred times when I was a kid. (See, even back then I had exceptionally good taste. 😉 Hands up who thinks Clint Eastwood is the coolest guy ever! 🙌)
I’m sparing you a film review here, because I assume that you have at least once in your life watched this film – and if not: do it!!
Because budget strictures limited Morricone’s access to a full orchestra, he used gunshots, cracking whips, whistle, voices, jew’s harp, trumpets, and the new Fender electric guitar, instead of orchestral arrangements of Western standards à la John Ford. Morricone used his special effects to punctuate and comically tweak the action—cluing in the audience to the taciturn man’s ironic stance.
Have a listen here:
Another iconic film score in this genre is of course Once Upon A Time in the West.
I think the music speaks for itself:
Last but not least, the following score which I think is possibly one of the most beautiful ever composed in human history.
I get goosebumps up and down every time I listen to it. It’s the score The Mission, a 1986 British period drama film about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th-century South America. The film was directed by Roland Joffé and written by Robert Bolt, the film stars Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Ray McAnally, Aidan Quinn, Cherie Lunghi, and Liam Neeson.
The soundtrack has been composed, orchestrated, conducted and produced by Ennio Morricone. The work combines liturgical chorales, native drumming, and Spanish-influenced guitars, often in the same track, in an attempt to capture the varying cultures depicted in the film
I beg you – listen to the whole piece. I know it’s long(ish), but you won’t regret it! I promise.