The Soundtrack Maestro


The new documentary Ennio is in NYC now playing at Film Forum, and it's an exhaustively hagiographic, if not just plain exhausting (like swimming through a pool of Jello) portrait of the late Italian composer Ennio Morricone, especially beloved world over for his numerous film and tv soundtracks (at least 400 of 'em) -- and it's yet another 3-hour bladder buster (that old Talking Heads bromide "Say something once / why say it again?" has the ring of truth to it as applied to this documentary). 

Now, I like many, if not all, Morricone's film soundtracks -- who would have the time or the inclination to hear all 400 of them unless you were a soundtrack obsessive nut job? -- particularly his Sergio Leone scores. And the overall range of his film music, from experimental to electronic to disco to soft-focus mood music, is staggering. 

Still, there is a repetitious factor about many of them (on the order of this one sounds like that one -- particularly the ones featuring massed battalions of choral singers ). But really, what do you expect with such a prodigious output over so many years? Very hard not to repeat oneself and fall back on / recycle particular melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic tropes that, after so many years, begin to resemble cliches. 

Still, if you indulge the particular conceit at play here, there never ever was a film composer, either dead or alive, who can hold a candle to the Maestro. In fact, this doc sledge-hammers home the message that Morricone literally INVENTED the genre of "Film Music" per se (somebody actually says this), there being No Other Film Music God Before Him.
Bernard Herrmann, Nino Rota, Elmer Bernstein, Florian Fricke, Henry Mancini, Thomas Newman, John Barry, Micah Levi, Piero Piccioni, Max Steiner, Carter Burwell, Jerry Goldsmith, et al. come to mind, but none of them rate a mention here. Plus, the doc overlooks some Morricone gems, like this one below:

Much more effective and engaging would be a serious, multi-week program of many of the classic films featuring Morricone's most outstanding scores.

The rest is PR.

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