Innovative. Enigmatic. Genius. The significant exception to all rules.
The documentary by Giuseppe Tornatore throws us into the profoundly entertaining, exhausting and magical life of the Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Born in 1928, Morricone wrote over 500 scores for films and television, from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, for which he won an Oscar in 2016.
Ennio, the one and only
Ennio is, from the start, a delightful portrait of this legend of a person Morricone was. Oddly moving, and horrendously personal, this documentary could bring anyone to tears. It is not the classic documentary that alternates interviews and archive materials, rather it combines art and life, music and poetry, offering rhythmic movements close to those used to lead an orchestra as if we could jump into the life of the legendary composer.
I am not implying that in Ennio, there are no interviews or archive materials, quite the opposite, we listen to interviews with Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone, Hans Zimmer, John Williams and many others. What makes this documentary a masterpiece is the so-called “polyphonic montage”, creating a symphony of voices and sounds.
The film’s rhythm intertwines with our emotions so well that it could last forever and we wouldn’t mind it. Even if you haven’t heard about Ennio, it immediately makes you fall in love with him and his music. So much has been learned about Morricone, other composers have been studying his music and have prayed that maybe one day they will get close to this legend to learn something from him. So much so that Tarantino compares him to Mozart and Beethoven. The film, enjoyable even to those who have no clue how music is made, will definitely become a subject of study, just like a piano manual.
The thread of the narrative is the intense interview with Ennio Morricone himself, from which a humble man’s genuineness, brilliance and emotion shine. The film reveals his greatness and imagination. He talks about the sweet love that bound him to his wife, the primary listener and judge of his work, and his almost metaphysical relationship with music, which he wrote in such a natural way.
An eccentric and unconventional musician, Ennio became an architect of the convergence of absolute music and film music. From the music combinations represented in the documentary, it is clear that Morricone has become a crucial point of reference for future generations of musicians and film directors, who honour him, quote him, follow him and will probably not exist without his valuable work.
The way the film pays an overwhelming tribute to the Maestro, without exaggeration or exasperation, gives such an emotional power to the documentary. Because, to be fair, Morricone himself is exceptional. Also, the infused story with a cinematic rhythm, alternating emotion, tension and catharsis creates something close to a fiction film – a perfectly orchestrated symphony. With immaculate editing and exemplary choice of material, Ennio is simply an exceptional piece of art.
The impetuous resonance of Morricone’s masterpieces combined with scenes from the history of cinema running on screen collides in an overwhelming explosion. Especially with Ennio’s subtle jokes, grimaces, tears and exciting revelations, this film becomes a giant. We could feel the sincere affection and deep devotion in Ennio, the majestic tribute to a monumental artist.
Ennio Morricone died on the 6th of July 2020 in Rome and he will be forever remembered as the musical genius of our time. I am extremely grateful to Giuseppe Tornatore for creating this masterpiece of a documentary film.