The year 2020 claims yet another legend from us, movie buffs. The legendary Ennio Morricone, the Italian composer, has passed away on July 6. He was 91. It is a huge loss for World Cinema, if you know this man's immense contribution to creating some of the most iconic tunes, that continue to immerse, impress and influence both fans and other composers. As per reports, he is known to have composed over 400 scores for both cinema and television. If that number is staggering enough, let me also mention to you the movies he had scored music for. Ennio Morricone, Oscar-Winning Italian Music Composer, Dies At 91.
Starting his movie career in Italian cinema, Morricone's turning point came with the great Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars. Morricone went to compose for more of Leone's films, including the most iconic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Some of his other popular works are Cinema Paradiso, The Battle of Algiers, 1900, Exorcist II, Days of Heaven, Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission, The Thing etc. His last movie score was for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight in 2015, for which he finally got a much delayed Academy Award for Best Original Score, after getting five nominations before. He had also won the Honorary Oscar in 2007.
It is composers that Morricone that make movies worth remembering and searched for in the years ahead with their mesmerising music. As the legend is no more, let's look at ten of his most iconic scores and thank him for giving us those.
For A Few Dollars More
Morricone arrives with a bang in the international arena with Leone's A Fistful of Dollars. But I prefer the score of For A Few Dollars More over his first film with Leone. It is hard not to have goosebumps when you hear that whistling tune meshed beautifully with guitar riffs, church bells and more. To Italy With Love: Roman Holiday to Cinema Paradiso - 7 Films We Must Cherish for Celebrating Italian Culture and Heritage in Memorable Ways Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Now let's talk about the more popular score Morricone scored for Leone's The Dollar trilogy in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Even if you haven't seen this great film (and you call yourself a movie buff? Unfair!), there will some point in your life that you have come across the iconic tunes of the film, either being parodied, or in the case of Bollywood, straightaway copied (riffed off from the film's main theme).
Once Upon A Time In The West
Can any of our favourite Western cowboy classics be anything without Morricone's famous scores? Just see another example of Morricone's score for a Sergio Leone western film outside The Dollars trilogy. Once Upon A Time In The West has one of the most beautiful soundtracks in the film, and it was also one the biggest selling scores in its era. Just sample the above 'Man With A Harmonica' theme and you know what I am talking about.
Exorcist II: The Heretic
Exorcist II: The Heretic is a bad sequel to a great horror film. But one of its very few positives is a haunting soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. One of my favourite pieces in the film is Regan's Theme, that was later lifted by Sandeep Chowta for his title track of Pyar Tune Kya Kiya. Also check out "Magic And Ecstasy", "Pazuz" and "Little Afro-Flemish Mass", each terrific in its own right.
Days of Heaven
For some reason, The Academy was very unfair to Morricone as it only gave him his first nomination for Best Original Score in 1978. Whereas he should have gotten and even won for the movies I have mentioned earlier. That said, his score for Terrence Malick's drama is mesmerising and soothing, and works beautifully into what is already a beautiful movie.
John Carpenter's cult horror movie has a very turbulent relationship with Morricone. Apparently, the director wasn't very pleased with what the composed had come up with for his film, and only used pieces for its. But those 'pieces' were enough to help create a dark, harrowing atmosphere needed for the film. Also a little trivia - Morricone was nominated for a Razzie for his score in the film, showing Razzies don't really see masterpieces that Time later recognises.
Once Upon A Time in America
Another Sergio Leone classic returns to this list, but this time it is not a western. The sprawling gangster drama, that was an inspiration behind Dulquer Salmaan's Kammatipaadam in Malayalam cinema, has Morricone give one of his most amazing scores, that worthy of playing during a Christmas carol. It is these tunes that make a film great, though as proven with Exorcist II, that's not always the case.
Roland Joffe's period drama starring Robert De Niro has Ennio Morricone go operatic with his score. And what a masterpiece it turns out to be! Just listen to this score with your headphones, and pretty sure, the music will drive away your lockdown blues with its amazing use of choir singing and instruments.
If you have ever been in love with cinema, there is no way you haven't heard of this masterpiece called Cinema Paradiso, that celebrates, well, the love for cinema. Giuseppe Tornatore's classic is a lovely film that has some beautiful visuals and even beautiful score that has the power to move you to tears and then make you smile through them. As you feel so in the lovely climax of the film.
The Legend of 1900
If Cinema Paradiso was about cinema, then Giuseppe Tornatore's The Legend of 1900 was about music. And just how can Morricone disappoint there? The piano compositions - the protagonist is a piano player who has spent most of his lifetime on ships - are soulful and lovely, and gives the film the magic it needs.
Honourable Mentions: A Fistful of Dollars, Navajo Joe, Come Play With Me, The Sicilian Clan, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion, Duck, You Sucker!, The Untouchables, Malena, Frantic, The Hateful Eight and many many more.
May your soul rest in peace, O legend! And Thank you for all those brilliant compositions.