Ennio Morricone wrote the perfect soundtrack for a time when we miss movies more than ever
The score for “Cinema Paradiso” was composed by Ennio Morricone, who died Monday at 91, after breaking his leg in a fall. And that wasn’t even his most familiar work. Over the course of a stunningly varied and accomplished career, Morricone wrote the signature Man With No Name theme for “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” the masterful orchestral-choral accompaniment to “The Mission” and the ethereal sonic dreamscape for “Days of Heaven.” As The Washington Post’s Adam Bernstein wrote in his obituary, Morricone “was impossible to categorize. His portfolio seemed to span every conceivable mainstream genre, including comedy, drama, romance, horror, political satire and historical epic.”
Bernstein also noted that Morricone “saw himself as a full partner in telling stories on-screen.” And that made him a rarity, not only as a composer who wasn’t content with providing wallpaper or easy emotional “beats,” but one whose music was great enough to take pride of place alongside larger-than-life actors and visual images. Ask movie composers about their jobs, and most will say something diplomatic and self-effacing about simply being there to support the director’s vision; many will add that, if you are noticing the music, it means they’ve failed. The best movie score, they’ll tell you, is the one that doesn’t fade into the background but never stands out enough to be differentiated from the aesthetic and sensory world the film creates.
The audience can feel when that balance is off-kilter — when a too-lush musical score draws more attention ...
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