I didn’t plan on doing a film today – I had Sunday night off. And then I learned Ennio Morricone had died. So today it’s “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, which features perhaps his most iconic score. Every track is just a wonderful, creative mish-mash of whistles, gunshots, whip cracks, prairie dogs, chanting, choirs, opera, and innovative use of drums, brass, wind, keys and strings. He redefined music for westerns. The film is a classic too.
For the tiny few who don’t know, it’s the final instalment of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy. It features three characters who are basically old western superheroes and their competing search for hidden gold during the American Civil War.
Leone had a lot to say about man’s inhumanity to man, but also about man’s ability for compassion. Also, in Leone’s world, greed is not good. It’s a movie of set-pieces as the main characters move from place to place, getting closer to the gold, all of which are brilliantly realised.
But this is about Morricone today, one of the greatest film composers ever, and Leone knew it. Most films have the score written at the end, but Leone asked for the score first and then would shoot the scenes with the music playing for the actors.
Without Morricone this wouldn’t be half the film it is. The last 10 minutes or so, especially, would have been almost nothing without his music – a man running around a cemetery for 5 minutes and then three guys staring at each other for another 5 minutes? His music makes the film.
I was lucky enough to see him conduct his music in London with a full orchestra and a huge choir. It was breathtakingly beautiful. He wrote fantastic music for an amazing number of movies. We lost a master. RIP Mr Morricone.