Andrea’s film review – Ennio

Ennio ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A documentary on the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. Out in selected cinemas and available to buy on most of the major streaming platforms.

34 years after Cinema Paradiso swept us away with all those “stolen kisses” in one of the most beautiful and iconic endings in cinema history, director Giuseppe Tornatore has found his voice again, and even if this time it’s through a documentary, his ability to melt our hearts, make us laugh, to inspire us and move us to tears seems unchanged.

Ennio, the film, covers the life and works of music composer Ennio Morricone.

I don’t think I need to state here what a huge film buff I am (though some people may call me “film-nerd”, or “film geek”), but even I was oblivious to most of the stories told in this splendid documentary.

I’ve always considered Morricone one of the greatest film composers, certainly up there with John Williams (my ultimate favourite), Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, Max Steiner and Hans Zimmer, but it was only by listening to extracts from some of his pieces, one after the other throughout the two hours and 47 minutes of this documentary, that I realised not just the incredible body of work (around 500 scores and apparently 20 of them in 1968 alone!), but also how revolutionary they were, as well of course beautiful.

Tornatore has made a real letter of love to the man and to cinema itself, not unlike his Oscar winning Cinema Paradiso. Through dozens of interviews, little hidden gems from the archive and hundreds of snippets from classic films, all spectacularly weaved together by editor Massimo Quaglia (who’s at times a bit too enthusiastic, but he really delivers when it comes to editing to music), Tornatore is able get us as close to Morricone as I had never hoped I’d be.

And what a treat this is! The film also makes you want to go back and re-discover many of those less-seen films (not to mention the ones we watched over and over).

Morricone speaks like a man from another era, with his oldfashioned ‘polished’ and refined Italian. We learn so many little stories from the horse’s mouth (his interview, which runs throughout the documentary was filmed just before he died in June 2020), as well as from all the key players in his life.

I don’t think they missed a single one, from Clint Eastwood, to Tarantino, Dario Argento, Barry Levinson, Terrence Malick, Bernardo Bertolucci, Quincy Jones, Olive Stone and even (quite randomly) Bruce Springsteen and many others. And for those who have passed away (like in the case of Sergio Leone or Gillo Pontecorvo), they found old interviews and some great archival footage.

And so we learn about Ennio’s early life and how he wrote music for some of the most iconic Italian songs in ‘60s. I really had no idea! In fact I think it’s a film that certainly speaks even louder to Italians I guess and will touch a special chords to those who remember those early compositions which are so iconic today).

So many wonderful little bits of trivia, like how writing music for films was considered to be almost “vulgar” among composers and how that pushed Ennio to use a pseudonym for some of his first few films, because he was “ashamed” in front of his peers. Well, who’s ashamed now?

As well as all the many entertaining stories (too many to tell here), we get the chance to listen to some of his great scores and learn how they came about and what the reaction was at the time.

This might also be one of the few chances you’ll get to hear some of these wonderful pieces, as some of these films have never actually been released outside Italy.

The film came out less that 24 hours ago in the UK, but I’ve already seen it twice.

Cinema lovers, music lovers, art lovers and everybody else with good taste for anything Italian and more, this documentary is a sublime and inspiring piece of work, which I will never forget.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick

Ennio is out in selected cinemas and available to buy on most of the major streaming platforms.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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