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Blissful Movie Music
How often have you left a movie theater with the main theme deliciously repeating over and over again in your head as you savor the experience that you've just had? Do you have beloved movie soundtracks? Do you have favorite composers who have inspired you to watch a movie simply because they wrote the score?
Ennio Morricone: Pure Magic
For me one such composer is Ennio Morricone. He has created many notable film scores, and in 2007 the Academy of Motion Pictures acknowledged his work with an Academy Honorary Award. He has unquestionably been a prolific composer. IMDb lists him as composer of 513 titles. But, of course, what creates fans like me is the magic that many of his movie scores exude as they propel the emotional strains in the stories forward like wind in the sails of a ship. For those unfamiliar with Morricone's scores let me recommend a few films:
Cinema Paradiso (1988) - With its themes of bittersweet nostalgia and longing, the film bounces back and forth between light-hearted humor and pathos. Every time I watch the movie I anticipate the final scene (in the U.S. theatrical version, not the director's cut) where the protagonist is viewing the old film reel given to him posthumously by his mentor. You, too, may fall in love with this ending and decide for yourself whether "a kiss is just a kiss." I know exactly what's coming, but it gets me every time. This film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Film Score.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) - The main theme reflects the promise and struggle of the late 19th century frontier and is as expansive as the landscape. The main characters, played by Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, and Henry Fonda, each have themes that announce them throughout the movie. Not particularly well received upon its release, the movie is now considered one of best westerns ever made.
Malena (2000) - This is the heartbreaking tale of an aloof, beautiful woman (played by the alluring Monica Bellucci), who incites desire in men and jealousy in women, caught in the merciless tides of wartime Sicily. The film was nominated for Best Music, Original Score at the Academy Awards.
Love Affair (1994) - This is a remake of the famous 1957 film An Affair to Remember. Don't expect Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, but this film holds its own as a more contemporary version and stars the off-screen couple Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. Morricone's music is augmented with an onstage performance by Ray Charles and a John Lennon song. An elderly Kathryn Hepburn appears in a pivotal scene.
The Mission (1986) - This film contains the unforgettable Gabriel's Oboe with its liquid melody and plaintive tones. It is a film that highlights the massively scenic Iguazu Falls. Lush music complements lush scenery. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The musical score won BAFTA and Golden Globe awards.
Go Ahead..Try a Sample
If you want a sampling of memorable Morricone scores as an apéritif to viewing these films, let me suggest the recording done by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, called Yo-Yo Ma Plays Morricone. The cello's deep, rich tones are perfect for conveying the melancholy, sweetness, and power of Morricone's music.
Fred P. has been a film fan for forever.