My favorite Ennio Morricone scores
Prolific composer Ennio Morricone, who passed away on July 6 at the age of 91, left a massive legacy of some of the most memorable music ever created during these past 50 years.
My favorite Ennio Morricone scores
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2020 - 12:00am

The legendary composer and film scorer Ennio Morricone died in a hospital in his hometown of Rome last Monday, July 6 from complications from a fall. He was 91 years old. He gave cinema a number of some of the most memorable music ever created during these past 50 years.

He is not alone in this regard. I can name several others. But his works are among the most beautiful and possess a most distinctive touch. There is no mistaking his music for someone else’s. You hear a melody and you instantly know. This is by Morricone.

With most of us spending our days at home in this period of quarantine, this is as good a time as any to celebrate Morricone’s genius by watching those films that he provided with his music. Here is a list of some of them. Some of these titles are among his best. Some are not. But these are the loveliest and certainly my favorites.

A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1965 to 1966. These are three spaghetti westerns directed by Sergio Leone in Italy, which gave him global fame. The trilogy also made Clint Eastwood a big star and changed the look, feel and music of the cowboy film forever.

As per tradition, Morricone’s score still galloped but it also had trumpets, bells, harps, twanging guitars, whistles, organs, animal sounds and other unique touches. Hugo Montenegro turned that theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly into a big hit in the pop charts. Tara ra rara, ta ra ra…

Once Upon a Time in the West, 1987, also directed by Leone stars Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robarbs. This is American history as seen through the eyes of Italians. Morricone’s music was not only the score, it paced the action and gave the film its total feel. Cowboy flicks are also referred to as horse operas. Because of the music, this one really is.

Once Upon a Time in America, 1984. Leone took on the gangsters of New York during the time of prohibition for this epic crime drama. Stars are Robert De Niro, James Woods, Jennifer Connelly and Elizabeth McGovern. The latter played Deborah and Morricone gave her a particularly affecting theme which Celine Dion later recorded as I Knew I Loved You.

The Mission, 1986. Directed by Roland Joffe and starring De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn. Set in the 18th century, the film tells the story of Spanish Jesuits protecting a South American tribe of Indians from falling into the hands of the Portuguese conquerors with tragic results. Inspired by angels is the only way to describe Morricone’s music, most especially the sublime Gabriel’s Oboe.

Cinema Paradiso, 1988. Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, this is no epic drama. Just a simple tale set in a small town after World War II about a projectionist instilling his love for the movies in the heart of a little boy. Morricone gave it music that is just as heartwarming and absolutely enchanting. That theme music still raises millions of goosebumps whenever played up to this time. Remember, “If you were in my soul for a day, would you know how it feels in me?” Sigh, sigh, sigh…

Love Affair, 1994. Directed by Glen Gordon Caron, the romantic drama is not usually included among Morricone’s best. A love story will find it hard competing with the likes of The Mission and Cinema Paradiso. But this one is a remake of An Affair to Remember and it stars Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn and the gorgeous landscape of Tahiti. It is all about lovers finding each other again and comes with a heavenly theme by Morricone in the soundtrack.

Days of Heaven, 1978. An elegiac period drama directed by the reclusive Terence Malick, the film stars Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Sheppard and Linda Manz. It is a story of survival by the desperate and has a startling painful beauty. Morricone approached this in a low key way. He did not set the mood but he came up with melodies that evoke the dire circumstances of the characters.

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