Ennio (2021)

It’s not easy to do a documentary about the life and work of arguably the world’s most extraordinary film composer, but Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore just about makes it work as it captures the sheer breadth and range of the maestro’s legacy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,422

Dir. Giuseppe Tornatore
2021 | Italy | Documentary/Biography/Music | 156 mins | 2.39:1 | Italian & English
M18 (passed clean) for some mature content

Plot: A documentary on the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone.
Awards: Official Selection (Venice)
International Sales: Piano B

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Film Music; Legacy
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Screener – Singapore Film Society
Spoilers: No

It’s no surprise that Giuseppe Tornatore would be the one to mount a documentary about the life and work of the late Ennio Morricone. 

After all, his films over the decades had been beneficiaries of Morricone’s wonderful musical touch, including the likes of Cinema Paradiso (1988), The Legend of 1900 (1998) and Malena (2000). 

In Ennio, Tornatore gives us an intimate look at the legend himself as the composer walks us through his entire life, from his humble beginnings as the son of a professional trumpet player, and later being schooled into performance and composition, before entering the film industry as a composer. 

And as they say, the rest is history.  Without a sense of formal control, it is easy for a documentary about a famous composer to become an extended highlight reel of his or her greatest hits, or an onslaught of talking heads waxing lyrical about the subject. 

“I never thought that music would be my destiny.”

I’ll be honest—Ennio does fall into that trap a number of times, and with a runtime of more than 150 minutes, it does somewhat outstay its welcome. 

However, despite not being stylistically exciting as a film, it ultimately does its job adequately, capturing the sheer breadth and range of the maestro’s legacy and giving us many goosebump moments (countless movie scenes are shown with his music) where we are reminded of Morricone’s genius. 

We get input mostly from Italian collaborators, but Morricone’s international admirers are many, with Quentin Tarantino, Wong Kar-Wai, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Clint Eastwood, and more, paying their tributes.  Cinephiles and music lovers will probably appreciate this the most. 

Grade: B+


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