Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning Italian composer, has died, aged 91. A prolific film composer, he is credited with scoring over 500 films over a career which spanned seven decades.

Electing to remain in his native city of Rome rather than venture to Hollywood, he crafted the mesmerising soundtracks for Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollars’ trilogy, starring Clinton Eastwood as the ‘Man With No Name’. Morricone’s creation granted him the status of royalty within the Spaghetti Western genre; his work Ecstasy of Gold, which featured in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, is one of the most renowned pieces of music – not just of Morricone’s career – but in cinema history.

He returned to work with Leone in 1968, scoring the music to Once Upon a Time in the West (which I encourage all to listen to, not least because it is my personal favourite that I have heard amongst his library of works). The main theme of the soundtrack, which takes its name from the title of the film, showcases Morricone’s talent of being able to tug at the heartstrings by expanding the feeling of tragedy already observed on the screen. Compared with his involvement in increasing the level of tension to near unbearable levels in the final duel in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, unveiled his expertise in sending the audience on a roller-coaster of emotions.

He would collaborate with Leone one last time in Once Upon a Time in America, released in 1984, the last film Leone ever directed. Soon after, he composed the Oscar-nominated scores for The Mission, released in 1986, and the 1987 film The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery as part of the alcohol prohibition force of Chicago closing in on its chief bootlegger, Al Capone, fantastically played by Robert De Niro. More specifically, the piece titled Al Capone is where Morricone shows the strength, elegance, and ruthlessness of the main villain through the music; whilst the portion of music which shares the name with the title of the film exhibits the bravery and heroism of the protagonists.

Serving the culture of his homeland, he crafted the score to countless films belonging to Italian cinema with Cinema Paradiso likely being the most recognised amongst English speaking audiences. I am afraid I have not listened to much of his work within this theatre of his career so cannot make a substantiated comment as I have done above.

In the twilight of his career, Morricone, at the age of eighty-seven, clinched his first and only Oscar at the 88th Academy Awards (held in 2016) for his scoring of The Hateful Eight, a western directed by Quentin Tarantino. His future appearance in the ‘in-memoriam’ column during the next awards season will be where the world of cinema reminds itself that it has lost one of its greats. Immortalised through his music, Ennio Morricone may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.


Photo by Cancha General on Flickr.

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