Nine Minutes of Morricone

I was 24 years old back in 1964 when I saw my first Spaghetti Western. The movie was called A Fistful of Dollars and it was directed by the Italian legend Sergio Leone and it starred a brash young actor named Clint Eastwood. And the soundtrack was produced by a friend of Leone’s named Ennio Morricone. And I was hooked.

Leone and Morricone went on to make more Spaghetti Westerns in the 60s and of course I saw them all. In 1968 they teamed up to produce one of my most favorite westerns of all time called Once upon a Time in the West. And in 1984 they got together again for the last time to come up with Once upon a Time in America, my favorite New York gangster movie of all time. Robert de Niro and Morricone. wow!

Morricone created more than 500 soundtracks during his career, most of them for Italian movies. He received the Academy Honorary Award in 2007 and the Best Original Score Oscar for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in 2016. He died the other day at the age of 91.

In 1986 Morricone produced the soundtrack for a British movie called The Mission. The movie starred Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and de Niro again and it sorta flopped in the US. The story was a tad confusing and the acting was only so-so. It did win one Academy Award, though – for cinematography. You will soon see in the following clip de Niro climbing a cliff that just happens to be right next to the largest waterfall in the world. I think that may have helped win the Oscar.

The Mission takes place in Brazil in the 1750s and is the story of some Spanish Jesuit priests (Irons and Neeson among others) who are trying to convert the local Guaranis to Christianity. Uh-oh. De Niro plays the role of a slave trader (another uh-oh) who also murders his brother (this probably deserves another uh-oh).  It is now 34 years since the movie was made and probably the biggest uh-oh is that the story is based on fact: the struggle of two European powers (Spain and Portugal) to gain control of South America and in so doing destroy the culture of its inhabitants. Some of the events portrayed in the movie actually occurred.

The following clip from the movie runs for 8 minutes and 53 seconds. There is no dialogue at all in the scene. Neeson stares once or twice. Irons moves around a bit. And de Niro (who is performing penance for his fratricide) grunts and cries. And that’s it. Except for  the waterfall in the background and Morricone’s magnificent music. I think it is the best soundtrack of his entire career.


About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in art history, Biography, Classic Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Nine Minutes of Morricone

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    It was interesting to find that we two are in approximately the same age group. No wonder that the values we hold are very similar in spite of our different backgrounds. It is truly too bad that I cannot watch the Mission and Once Upon a Time in the West here in Canada, although it is available on Netflix in the USA. Perhaps some other time …

  2. disperser says:

    Nice tribute . . . for my money, *Ectasy of Gold* is the one piece that always gives me goose-bumps. But, for movie scores, I have to go with . . .

    • Yes, I have watched both movies many times but sometimes I just watch the cemetery shoot-out scene in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly just to hear Ecstasy of Gold. This main theme in Once upon a Time in the West is beautiful but I also like the haunting harmonica theme that is associated with Charles Bronson’s character.

  3. That teared me up and I needed a “you should have tissues ready” warning! I haven’t seen this movie or any of the spaghetti westerners you mentioned and I love the old westerns!

  4. GP Cox says:

    Yesterday, my better half and I listened to his music for hours!

  5. Yes, I have done that, too. Beautiful music!

  6. BillboardVagabond says:

    Thanks for reminiscing about a bygone era about individuals who made spaghetti westerns a genre of their own. Stellar star cast to boot

  7. the Mission had the most beautiful music!!

  8. cbholganza says:

    Wow! I love this! Brings back fond memories when i was young. I remember looking forward to my dad treating the family to a movie. And the signature theme. Thank you so much for this, my friend.

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