When I was in college, I took a “Music in Film” class. This class was broken up into chapters by composer, and one of the first names we learned was Ennio Morricone. Understanding how vital music is to the soul of a film, I began to obsessively watch the movies he scored to learn his methods and style; he was obviously a master. The narrative melodies of his compositions were quite an imaginative partner to his visual counterpart. I was in awe of his talent, and understandably excited to learn he scored the newest Tarantino film, especially because I knew it was Western-inspired.
After more than 500 movie credits over the past six decades, including some of the most iconic and influential musical scores of all time, this 87-year-old legend has finally won an Oscar. Morricone has been nominated five other times at the Academy Awards, and although celebrated in 2007 with an Honorary Award for his lifetime contributions to the art of film music, he never actually took home a win until this past Sunday. For Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which he scored exquisitely, Morricone revisited his Western roots, and took home his Oscar.
He made his career start when his classmate and filmmaker friend, Sergio Leone, asked him to come aboard the film, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). This was the beginning of the Spaghetti Western genre, and Morricone’s scattered arrangements, eccentric instrumentation and lasting melodies, revolutionized the Western film genre’s music. Morricone went on to do a plethora of other films, spanning over all film genres. His musical versatility touched over 50 years of movie-goers. In his acceptance speech, which was in Italian, he states, “There isn’t a great soundtrack without a great movie that inspires it. This is why I thank Quentin Tarantino for choosing me…” And I know Tarantino is probably more than thrilled that his film has brought this award and long overdue recognition to such a Hollywood hero. Us, cinephiles, are right there with you, Quentin. And I tip my hat to you, Ennio.
Sources: IMDB.com, YouTube, media2.wnyc.org