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 Posted:   Feb 10, 2011 - 3:57 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

1900
NOVECENTO
Morricone Anthem
#32

This series is inspired by a controversy thread where someone posited the idea that besides THE MISSION and some Sergio Leone westerns Ennio Morricone hasn't written anything great. Rather than making my usual comment that most of Morricone's great scores are from Italy and trying to get Americans to listen to them is like getting them to see movies with subtitles, I decided to take another tact. Since I am at an age where I will only be able to make my case a finite number of times I decided to turn this into a series presenting each great score one at a time, sort of like recordman.

Ennio Morricone did 5 features with Bernardo Bertolucci so if you could say the director ever had a regular composer it was he. Ironically Bertolucci's most famous and most successful films, THE CONFORMIST, LAST TANGO IN PARIS and THE LAST EMPEROR were done by other talents. Of the ones Ennio did do this is the most famous. It was an incredibly ambitious piece done on the heels of LAST TANGO with a number of American stars. Perhaps too ambitious.
This might be a good time to bring up Morricone's politics. He is left wing. But nothing extreme. He never professed to be a good communist like Bertolucci did during his youth. All during his career he has been determined that nothing get in the way of his music and that is a good thing. Indeed he has scored films all over the political map. Sergio Leone, despite ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (co-written by Bertolucci), was a conservative. But Ennio's sympathies leaned the other way. He told Brian DePalma it was difficult writing music that glorified the police for THE UNTOUCHABLES, even though (in the movie at least) Elliot Ness's little group seemed independantly fighting for justice.
In THE LAST EMPEROR Bertolucci tries to tell a fairminded story of the last Emperor of China and portray it's history at the same time. In the lumbering NOVECENTO (1900) the story of Italy is played out the same way with the two leads playing out the class struggle at the turn-of-the-century. Bertolucci is an incredible filmmaker so there are sequences that are brilliant. But here villains are pretty villainous and there isn't one peasant that doesn't have a degree of nobility. Add to this the last hour plays more like a Marxist play than a movie and you have major problems. But wait there's more. There is no way to see this film in an ideal form. The American version was cut up but had the original voices of a number of actors we know well, Burt Lancaster, Robert DeNiro, Donald Sutherland and Sterling Hayden. The Italian version had scenes that helped make more sense of the proceedings but the big stars were dubbed and not all that well, (high profile Italian dubs are usually quite good). And to top it off our lead is the French Gérard Depardieu (whose raspy voice I am also familiar with) and he is dubbed in both versions.
Almost in a sense of relief here is Morricone's main theme that encapsulates more of what Bertolucci was trying to say in 5 hours, in a 4 minute anthem:





This incredibly long movie doesn't have all that much scoring. But Ennio's music seems to put it's finger on what is important. First, the relationship between the two young boys who play out the eternal conflicts between the "padrone" and the peasant. Foreshadowing CINEMA PARADISO they are given a playful theme "Olmo E Alfredo" that comes full circle at the end. Ennio also scores many of the landscapes which brings focus to the film. The land is what is important. So the peasants ARE more noble because they are closer to the land and the gentry are villainous because they've lost touch with it. It makes the film seem less like a piece of propaganda and closer to GONE WITH THE WIND. Sometimes I am amazed what music can do for a film and, in particular, what magic Morricone can work with his abilities.
Even though the battle here is pretty much lost.



P.S. If anyone didn't get to hear "Lei Se Ne More" from ANCHE SE VOLESSI, CHE FACCIO? I managed to find it and have it up:
http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75471&forumID=1&archive=0




#1 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74811&forumID=1&archive=0
#2 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74838&forumID=1&archive=0
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#4 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74899&forumID=1&archive=0
#5 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=74951&forumID=1&archive=0
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#12 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75194&forumID=1&archive=0
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#18 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=75471&forumID=1&archive=0
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#29 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=76022&forumID=1&archive=0
#30 http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?threadID=76084&forumID=1&archive=0

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2011 - 4:35 PM   
 By:   Urs Lesse   (Member)

I've sung praise for this work a few times before. It is the one Morricone score I would like to see rerecorded most given the existing CD based on the LP master has poor sound – unfortunately failing in the crucial trumpet highs. But well, at least it has become available at all again after only a rare Japanese CD had existed for many years.

I remember a Morricone documentary from 10-15 years ago which characterized NOVECENTO's Romanzo as appearing as "almost a kind of a second Italian national anthem". If I had to make that choice, I would take the more serious and mature NOVECENTO over the existing Italian national anthem without any hesitation.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2011 - 11:33 PM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

Another masterpiece. Morricone + Bertolucci can only produce the best.
I didn't like De Niro's performance. I found him little believable in his high-society role. Depardieu is gorgeous instead.

I wonder why Bertolucci couldn't (or wouldn't) use Morricone's art for the Last Emperor.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2011 - 12:21 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Despite my enjoyment of Romazo - which I had on a vinyl compilation many years ago - the score doesn't attract me too much. It has many lovely pieces and I do attribute my apathy to the poor sound quality.

But, also, this score falls into the same category as Marco Polo discussed earlier. There's nothing wrong with the music and if this score (as with that for Marco Polo) were one of a hundred EM scores I owned - as opposed to one of over 300 - it would get a lot more plays.

I need something to jog me into choosing it so, thank you Morricone, I shall select it to play - now!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2011 - 12:24 PM   
 By:   cushinglee   (Member)

So, why DID Delerue, not Morricone, score The Conformist? It would seem a natrual for him. He probably scored 17 pictures that year; what's one more when it's Bertolucci?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2011 - 12:49 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Still among my TWO FAVORITE Morricone film scores, Marco Polo being the other. I will never forget seeing the film on opening day at The Bruin in Westwood, Calif. No one else was in the auditorium when the film started! I didn't care as I could stretch out. The film remains a favorite of mine as well in it's (very) long version.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2011 - 10:30 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

So, why DID Delerue, not Morricone, score The Conformist? It would seem a natrual for him. He probably scored 17 pictures that year; what's one more when it's Bertolucci?

Never heard anything about it from Bertolucci or Morricone. But because THE CONFORMIST and LAST TANGO IN PARIS were both French films made with a lot of French money I always assumed they insisted on using as much a French cast and crew as possible. Since Morricone was extremely busy at this time I also assumed Morricone himself may have volunteered to step aside in deference to someone like Vittorio Storaro. In other words we give in on the music so we can have the cinematographer. I'm just guessing about all this. Delerue and Barbieri did great but I have always been curious what Morricone might have done.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 12, 2011 - 5:54 AM   
 By:   cushinglee   (Member)

So, why DID Delerue, not Morricone, score The Conformist? It would seem a natrual for him. He probably scored 17 pictures that year; what's one more when it's Bertolucci?

Never heard anything about it from Bertolucci or Morricone. But because they were both French films made with a lot of French money I always assumed they insisted on using as much a French cast and crew as possible. Since Morricone was extremely busy at this time I also assumed Morricone himself may have volunteered to step aside in deference to someone like Vittorio Storaro. In other words we give in on the music so we can have the cinematographer. I'm just guessing about all this. Delerue and Barbieri did great but I have always been curious what Morricone might have done.


Well, if anyone was irreplacable on Conformist it was Storaro, so if your theory is correct one can't argue. Delerue was a genuine peer. No loss. And Morricone certainly did his share of films on Delerue's turf.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 17, 2011 - 10:10 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

I've sung praise for this work a few times before. It is the one Morricone score I would like to see rerecorded most given the existing CD based on the LP master has poor sound – unfortunately failing in the crucial trumpet highs.

I'd like to see a higher-fidelity release, whether a re-recording or an unexpected unearthing of a better source, but I don't consider this at present one of my top ten Morricones. Anthemic is the correct description, however, and the current Italian anthem (heard to an irritating degree in the last Grand Prix season!) always seems a bit frivolous.

 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2011 - 12:35 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

Well, if anyone was irreplacable on Conformist it was Storaro...

exactly

 
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