During the five years of filming Ennio, director Giuseppe Tornatore travelled across the globe to interview over 70 renowned filmmakers and musicians about the life and work of Ennio Morricone, from Wong Kar Wai, Bernardo Bertolucci, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, John Williams, Hans Zimmer to Bruce Springsteen. These interviews are intercut with fragments of Morricone’s private life, recordings from Morricone’s acclaimed world concert tours, clips of classic films scored by Morricone, an assortment of stories from celebrated friends and colleagues and never-before-seen archival footage of places and scenes over a career that has spanned over 70 years.
About Ennio Morricone
Born in 1928 in Rome, Ennio Morricone is one of the most influential composers in the history of cinema. His filmography includes over 70 award-winning films, including every film by Sergio Leone, Giuseppe Tornatore and decades of iconic films in Italy, France and Hollywood. Morricone enjoyed a lifelong cinematic partnership with his former schoolmate, Sergio Leone, who hired him to score the first of Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, A Fistful of Dollars, in 1964. Morricone’s soundtrack for the last of the ‘Dollars trilogy’, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is widely considered one of the most influential film scores in cinema history and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009. Morricone has inspired many musicians from film scoring to rock bands, including Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Dire Straits, Muse, Metallica and Radiohead. Morricone has composed over 500 scores in film and television, over 100 classical works and sold over 70 million records over his 70-year-old career. In 2007, he received the Academy Honorary Award ‘for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.’ He is one of only two composers to be awarded an honorary Oscar by the Academy. In 2016, Morricone received his first Academy Award for his score to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.
About Giuseppe Tornatore
Born in Bagheria, Palermo. After many years dedicated to theatre, photography and the production of numerous documentaries, he debuted at just 29 as a film director with the movie The Professor, for which he also wrote the screenplay along with Massimo De Rita. It was in 1989, however, that he was thrust to international attention with Cinema Paradiso, written and directed by him, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Tornatore’s films have been regularly distributed worldwide since then, garnering awards and success. Among the best known actors appearing in his films are: Ben Gazzara, Jacques Perrin, Marcello Mastroianni, Michèle Morgan, Sergio Castellitto, Laura Del Sol, Philippe Noiret, Tim Roth, Gerard Depardieu, Roman Polanski, Monica Bellucci, Michele Placido, Geoffrey Rush, Jeremy Irons.
Morricone x Tornatore
In 1988, Morricone started a longstanding and fruitful collaboration with Giuseppe Tornatore. His first score for Tornatore was for Cinema Paradiso (1988), which won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and the Special Jury Prize at the 42nd Cannes Film Festival. Morricone also received a BAFTA for Best Original Score for the film with his son, Andrea. Morricone would go on to score nine more films for Tornatore, including The Legend of 1900 (winner of Best Original Score at the Golden Globes) and Malèna (nominated for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes).
Morricone x Wong Kar Wai
Producer of Ennio, Wong Kar Wai’s first collaboration with Morricone came in Wong’s martial arts epic, The Grandmaster (2013), which featured two classic tracks from Morricone, ‘La donna romantica’ and ‘Deborah’s Theme’ (from Once upon a Time in America), as an homage to Morricone and Sergio Leone.
Speaking to Sight and Sound in 2006, Ennio Morricone said that his work as a composer for film and his work as a composer of chamber music represented ‘two different worlds’. The former was ‘a service provided for a particular purpose’, the latter stemmed simply from ‘the need to create’. Such distinctions are nuanced further, and somewhat subverted, in Ennio, a handsome, chunky documentary directed by Giuseppe Tornatore which explores Morricone’s life and work through a formally conventional but appealing mix of archive, film and concert clips and new interviews.
The outpouring of tributes that followed Morricone’s death in 2020 confirmed his status as one of the most beloved and influential of contemporary composers. Given that Tornatore was a friend, and that Morricone scored a number of his films – most famously Cinema Paradiso (1988) – the documentary’s affectionate tone is no surprise.
The film constructs a clear narrative, sketching Morricone’s early years from his first musical forays as a trumpet player in bands to his time studying at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome under the tutelage of Goffredo Petrassi. Petrassi’s presence is crucial, since his complicated relationship Morricone points to the wider scepticism of Italian classical musicians about the composer’s work in film and other ‘commercial’ arenas.
The documentary is strongest when at its most specific – charting Morricone’s evolving creative process across genres and digging into the details of compositions: the accounts of his collaborations with Sergio Leone on Once upon a Time in America (1984) and Roland Joffé on The Mission (1986) are particularly absorbing. Though often far too brief, the contributions of associates and admirers – Dario Argento, Joan Baez, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Bernardo Bertolucci and the Taviani brothers, among them – provide incisive commentary. In interview, Morricone himself is genial and animated, his emotions disarmingly close to the surface: he tears up when recalling past disappointments, glows when describing happy, productive times. The inevitable sketchiness about certain aspects of his life and personality also seems appropriate. ‘He’s a very enigmatic character even if he doesn’t seem like it,’ says the singer-songwriter Gino Paoli. Ennio illuminates its subject while keeping a core of mystery intact.
Alex Ramon, Sight and Sound, May 2022
A film by: Giuseppe Tornatore
©: PianoB produzioni, Potemkino, Gaga, Terras
Co-produced by: Potemkino
Production Company: PianoB produzioni
Co-produced by: Gaga Corporation, Blossoms Island, Terras
With the contribution of: Eurimages, Bulgari
With the help of: Musica e oltre - The Official Ennio Morricone Legacy Company
In collaboration with: Bridging the Dragon
Worldwide Sales: BLK2 Distribution
Executive Producer for Gaga: Tom Yoda
Executive Producer for Blossom Island: Wong Kar Wai
Producers (for PianoB Produzioni): Gabriele Costa, Gianni Russo
Producer for Potemkino: Peter De Maegd
Producer for Terras: San Fu Maltha
Associate Producer: Gisella Marengo
Production Managers: Beatrice Kildani, Lorenzo Quagliozzi, Giuditta De Franceschi, Simona Sebastianelli, Emilia D’Agata, Stefano Zaccaria, Fulvio Romano Prieto, Rossella Agostini, Greta Soldati, Stefano Zaccaria
Production Supervisors: Francesco Migeni, Daniela Ricciardi, Fabrizio Amato, Raffaella Cassano
Lead Accountant: Maurizio Sebastianelli
Post-production Supervisor: Erika Scaramella
Production Consultant: Mauro Calevi
Directors of Photography: Fabio Zamarion, Giancarlo Leggeri
Camera Operators: Giancarlo Leggeri, Pierre Giorgio Palazzo, Giorgio Fracassi, Andrea Giacomini, Federico Catalano, Riccardo Marino, Giuliano Graziani, Alfonso Nastri
Visual Effects: Tango Produzioni
Editors: Massimo Quaglia, Annalisa Schillaci
Set Decorator: Marco Martucci
Graphic Design: Roberto Laurenzi
Colourist: Christian Gazzi
Music Supervisor: Fabio Venturi
Sound: Massimo Simonetti, Claudio Bagni, Peter M. Beer, Alfredo Petti, Antonio Dardo, Antongiorgio Sabia
Re-recording Mixer: Gianni Pallotto
Sound Editor: Francesco Vallocchia
Footage Aquisition: Alessandro Zambrini
A Dogwoof Films release
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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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