Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly OST (1966)

In listening recently to this remarkable soundtrack from Ennio Morricone I have appreciated that I saw the movie again recently, and wondered if that is somehow coloring my perception, causing me to overvalue it now. If that's the case all I can see is one of two things: 1) for Pete's sake, go and see this movie, or 2) caveat emptor, the dependency might be real. But I don't think so. The title theme, way back in the day, drove me to see the movie in the first place. I remember being confused then by the whole thing, too young or impatient or both to grasp the nuance of the pacing. And while I still appreciate that title theme and the many ingenious variations of its recurrence—who, after all, could possibly argue with the grunting and whistling and whip cracks and "Aaaaa / Go go go migo"—now it's the shrewd, deft sensibility that Morricone brought in collaboration with the movie's director and co-screenwriter, Sergio Leone, that really seems to me to bring the depth. "La Storia De Un Soldato" (or "The Story Of A Soldier"), for example, appears as the music that an abused troupe of POWs performs in an amazing and bizarre scene, forced to play in order to drown out the cries of soldiers, in this case Eli Wallach's Tuco ("the Ugly"), as they are tortured. It's a beautiful and haunting song, but made even more so by the brutal context in which it is used (if comically weird as well, I must say). The climaxing numbers here, "L'estasi Dell'oro (or "The Ecstasy of the Gold") and "Il Triello" (or "The Trio"), are also not to be missed, absolutely stirring, unforgettable, in the way they manage to put a cap on the scene that puts a cap on the resolution of the movie. When you factor in other work Morricone has done for dozens of movies—I particularly know and can also enthusiastically vouch for Once Upon a Time in the West (another Leone), The Mission, and The Untouchables—I think you know where I'm going with this. The guy is a master, and this and the movie it accompanies are as good as any places to start. So don't waste any more time if you can help it. Get on this.

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