Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ecstasy of Gold

"Ecstasy of Gold" scene from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

The creative alchemy that turns an average movie into a good movie, a good movie into a great movie, a great movie into an all-time classic, is generally found in the music, the unvoiced sounds that capture the spirit of the most memorable of scenes.

There are many great cinematic score composers, but my favorite might be Ennio Morricone. There may be composers with greater technical skill. There may be films that have stronger scores. But I'd say that his music is the most distinctive, yet appropriate to the movie. His genius lies in merging his personal aesthetic into the subject matter, creating a work that expresses the cinematic premise in a musical articulation unique to his compositional voice.

Oftentimes, movie music is "incidental" or ornamental, not an integral part of the scene. That's the situation with much "soundtrack" based scores in contemporary films. Obviously, production companies want a nice set of singles to release on the side for added revenue. There's nothing wrong with that, but it loses the sense of authenticity and coherence that a real musical score brings to the movie.

Detail from a promotional poster for The Mission (1986)

So, let's wish Ennio Morricone a Happy 83rd Birthday and listen to some great music.

There's so much from which to select, but here are few of my favorites:

The Mission (1986)

Wolf (1994)


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