The maestro Ennio Morricone was a living legend. His work will live on for eternity. It’s a phenomenal feat, to contemplate the fact that his music has been used on over 600 film projects, beginning in 1960 with his feature musical composition of the Italian drama Death of a Friend, directed by Franco Rossi and ending with Giuseppe Tornatore’s romantic drama, Correspondence in 2016, spanning a body of work that would last six decades. What made Ennio Morricone’s music iconic was the way his individually written songs were heavily used throughout a wide variety of major motion pictures from various filmmakers. Ennio Morricone’s music has appeared in the films of Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds), The Hughes Brothers (The Book of Eli), M. Night Shyamalan (Split), Guy Ritchie (The Man from Uncle), Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Adam McKay (Anchorman 2), Simon West (The Expendables 2), Oliver Stone (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Anton Corbijn (The American), to say the least. This is just the tip of the iceberg and scratching the surface in terms of the great number of instances where Morricone’s music has been used in films he didn’t musically score. Director’s loved his music so much, they would purchase the rights to repetitively use his music because it was so good.
Quentin Tarantino loves Morricone’s music so much that he used over a dozen songs from Morricone’s body of work in his 2009 masterpiece, Inglourious Basterds. Morricone’s delightful song “Il Tramonto” from Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was used masterfully in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 when ‘The Bride’ first confronts ‘Bill’ outside of the chapel during her wedding rehearsal. Finally, in 2015, it appeared as if Quentin Tarantino’s dream came true with Morricone composing an original musical score for The Hateful Eight, which won Ennio Morricone the Academy Award. Tarantino’s pride for having the legendary composer write an original musical score for his movie was ever-present in his energy when he accepted the award on behalf of Morricone at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards, boasting with pride that this maestro created a masterful piece of work for the celebrated director’s 8th film. Even though Tarantino considers the Kill Bill saga one extravagant movie, a major difference between the volumes is the heavy use of Ennio Morricone’s music on Vol. 2. Kill Bill Vol. 1 samples only one Morricone song, while Kill Bill Vol. 2 contained several pieces of music from the Italian master composer, resulting in a completely different tone for the second volume, in contrast to the first, which is clearly because of Morricone’s influence.
What makes Ennio Morricone so special is the way different filmmakers used his music in their movies – which heightens the attention and magnifies the spotlight upon the feature films where Morricone actually composed an original score. Moreover, Ennio Morricone’s original collaborations with directors include scoring three notable films for the legendary filmmaker Brian de Palma on The Untouchables (1987), Casualties of War (1989) and Mission to Mars (2000). In addition, he composed Oliver Stone’s U Turn (1997) and the remarkable Cinema Paradiso (1988) for Giusseppe Tornatore. William Friedkin’s Rampage (1987) and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) were also two memorable American films scored by the late Italian musical genius. But, none of Morricone’s work amounts to the prevalence he had on international cinema in his collaboration with Italian director Sergio Leone. Morricone and Leone most famously worked together on The Dollars Trilogy; three Spaghetti-Western films with Clint Eastwood: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). In addition to these three films, Morricone would collaborate with Leone three more times, totaling six, with Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Duck You Sucker (1971) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984).
Ennio Morricone was more than just a composer; he was a conductor and an orchestrator. Ennio Morricone’s mastery and prominence on the world of art is equivalent to classical music legends like Antonio Vivaldi, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig Van Beethoven. Hans Zimmer, the celebrated German film score composer and record producer who’s composed music for several renowned Hollywood feature films, expressed his appreciation for the Italian maestro in his interview with BBC Breakfast, “Ennio Morricone was an icon. Icon’s don’t go away. Icon’s are forever. And it wasn’t just the music he wrote for spaghetti-westerns. Think about The Mission, think about Once Upon a Time in America. What beautiful music that truly was. He was one of a kind. He never stopped speaking Italian. He never bothered to learn English. I was a huge fan of is. He was a major influence on me. The first movie I ever saw was Once Upon a Time in the West. I heard that music, I saw those images and I went, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” Hans Zimmer speaking this highly of Ennio Morricone gives justice and much deserved recognition to the late composers affect upon the world of cinema, since Hans Zimmer himself is celebrated globally with scoring major motion pictures like Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000), Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) and The Dark Knight (2008), John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II (2001) and Tony Scott’s True Romance (1993) in addition to Tony Scott’s Days of Thunder (1990) and The Fan (1995) which were phenomenal musical scores that left their imprints on our minds. Ennio Morricone was an Italian composer for the movies and Hans Zimmer followed in his footsteps becoming a German composer for the movies, making Morricone’s significance on the world of cinema insurmountable.
Ennio Morricone was a native of the eternal city of Rome, Italy and was nominated five times for Academy Awards before he finally won for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015). Moreover, Ennio Morricone was nominated for Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978), Roland Joffe’s The Mission (1986), Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), Barry Levinson’s Bugsy (1991) and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena (2000). Prior to winning in 2015, Morricone was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2007 from the Academy, which was presented to him by Clint Eastwood; the lead actor in The Dollars Trilogy. “The music is indispensable because my films could practically be silent movies. The dialogue counts for relatively little and so the music underlines actions and feelings more than the dialogue.” Sergio Leone, the director of the famed trilogy was once quoted saying, referring to the late Italian composer’s great influence upon his films. “Brilliant composer Ennio Morricone has passed away. A friend and collaborator. His talent was inestimable. I will miss him.” Director John Carpenter (The Thing) said as a tribute. Ennio Morricone left a permanent mark on the world of cinema with his art and his music, which will live forever in the hearts and minds of movie buffs and cinephiles.
Ennio Morricone (1928 – 2020)