the-missionThe Mission: Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture

Composer: Ennio Morricone

Review by: Michele Bolay

Awards: Academy Award nominee (Best Music, Original Score); Golden Globe winner (Best Original Score – Motion Picture); BAFTA winner (Best Score); AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores (#23); ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards (Lifetime Achievement).

Ennio Morricone is most famous for his collaborations with classmate Sergio Leone on Leone’s iconic westerns of the 1960s and 70s. “His score for A Fistful of Dollars, with its sparse arrangements, unorthodox instrumentation (bells, electric guitars, harmonicas, the distinctive twang of the jew’s harp) and memorable tunes, revolutionized the way music would be used in Westerns.” [Michael Brooke, IMDb] Morricone went on to become one of the most versatile film composers in the field, writing almost 400 scores for comedies, dramas, thrillers, horror films, and romances. He received an Oscar in 2016 for Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight, making him, at age 87, the oldest winner of a competitive Oscar.

His score for The Mission, set in Argentina and Paraguay in the 1750s, is regarded as one of his best. In addition to his usual strong brass and string elements, Morricone evoked the combination of indigenous cultures with Spanish and Jesuit influences through his use of native drums and pipes, Spanish guitar, and liturgical music. Not only is it an excellent example of how a score can both enhance and elevate a movie, it’s a pleasure to listen to all on its own. Careful listeners may recognize the hauntingly beautiful “Gabriel’s Oboe,” which has been covered and adapted many times over by recording artists.

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About the reviewer: Michele Bolay loves music and orders the soundtrack collection for the library.