Ennio Morricone

A Man and His Music

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One of the fortunate aspects of Ennio Morricone's Man and His Music is that Morricone himself, currently as well as in various earlier documentary appearances, is still around to speak for himself and his music. The structure of the 55-minute profile is a little loose and confusing, especially when it breaks into the time-line, but it is a chance to hear from early associates of the composer, including the professor who was his mentor -- we also hear the pop recording by Morricone that was the model for the music for A Fistful of Dollars. The documentary ranges freely between his film work and his concert works, which are very far apart in content, covering both aspects of his career with reasonable thoroughness, though there are some gaps -- Duck You Sucker/A Fist Full of Dynamite, arguably his best score, as well as his best score for a Sergio Leone movie, is never mentioned; and Leone, who passed away in the 1980s, is only seen in archival footage, and not for very long; we hear a lot more from his biographer. The 19 chapter breaks delineate the movie very well, and the material that is covered is done well -- there is, understandably, a lot of footage from the relevant films, mostly represented in the proper aspect ratio, and the film is also filled with footage of directors, including Bertolucci and John Boorman, expressing their admiration for the composer and the reasons behind that admiration. Ironically, one of the movies that gets the fullest analysis is Battle of Algiers, which has re-emerged since 2003 as a major current hit, as a result of events in Algeria a generation ago. The overall portrait of Man and His Music is informative, enlightening, and entertaining -- it opens on a simple menu offering 19 chapter selections and the "play all" option in the default position. And the audio is set good and loud, though some of the interviewees aren't recorded especially clearly. The producers have also included a bonus feature: A CD containing new recordings of Morricone's film music by Soho Strings, which are nice but easy to overlook when one considers that the original scores on almost everything Morricone has ever written is still available.

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