‘Ennio’ Documentary Film Review

Screening at Music Box Theatre on March 28 and coming to VOD April 9.

(Chicago, Illinois)

Ennio Morricone may well be the Mozart of today’s cinematic maestros. This composer is well known for making many classic westerns what they are. From The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) to Fistful of Dollars (1964), they would define the soundscape that can make viewers feel like they are in that world! Although the documentary simply titled Ennio often shifts back to those Westerns he’s best known for, I’m okay with that. 

The better act comes from when he’s working in Hollywood and has the chance to compose scores that aren’t Westerns. One work I’ll have to check out in full, that he went uncredited for, is Dino De Laurentiis’ The Bible: In the Beginning.  In the audition tape, which is thankfully shown in this work, he had to come up with an audible version of ‘Creation.’

From his humble beginnings as a musician to composing tunes for theatre and later on, radio, his ability to recognise what is popular would earn him a place in motion picture history. He understood why the soundtrack is important to a film. It’ll give viewers that added emotional connection, and without it, it’d be like watching Star Wars: A New Hope without John Williams’ score overlaid on top.

Today, we know Morricone for crafting the intense thrills found in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. Although not every project he’s hired for becomes a hit, he perseveres, and that’s what makes his interviews look humbling. Despite getting a Razzie nomination, he composed the score for John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and I’d have to double-check if he talked about it in this documentary. Personally, I love this film!

The reason this composer is such a master is that he stands behind what the director aims to accomplish. This documentary by Giuseppe Tornatore is an excellent look at how this composer goes about creating that right sound. And to have thoughts from the likes of Hans Zimmer and even Bruce Springsteen (to name a few) to say why he’s special really helps round out this work. Sadly, Ennio Morricone passed away in 2020. As a result, no fan of cinema should skip this documentary. Not only may you find that fond film from years gone by was composed by him, but also you’ll want to revisit it again.

Ed Sum

Ed Sum is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, BC. He has an avid interest in film, documentary projects, and music.

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