Ennio Morricone (Image by: Getty Images)

Unlike the movie poster—which in most of the world has devolved from a genuine painterly art form to a series of underwhelming Photoshops—the movie soundtrack appears to be more vital than ever. Rock stars like Jonny Greenwood and Trent Reznor are lending their cred to films like The Master and The Social Network, and soundtrack-centric labels like Death Waltz Records are issuing loving tributes to soundtracks old and new in the form of deluxe vinyl reissues.

Except that Ennio Morricone, possibly the most influential composer in film history, isn’t into it. “Il Maestro,” who has 528 movie and TV credits to his name and is probably most famous for composing the iconic theme to The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, recently shared his feelings on the state of movie music with The Guardian. Basically, while Morricone respects the work of composers like Hans Zimmer and John Williams, he thinks that overall, soundtracks aren‘t what they used to be.

Advertisement

“The standard of composition for film has deteriorated. I have suffered a lot in watching many films because of that,” he says, specifically criticizing “amateur” composers who try to cut costs by using synthesizers instead of actual instruments. “Electronic instruments flatten everything. Maybe you can do everything with [them], but the result is quite similar–a kind of standardized music,” he says.

And while he blames this trend on budgetary considerations, he also says that—without naming any names—some contemporary directors don’t respect the role of the composer. “There are some directors who actually fear the possible success of music. They fear that the audience or the critics will think the film has worked because there was a very good music score,” he says, adding, “If you have a 20-second music piece, you cannot really express anything… If you allow it to develop, the music can do its job in telling what is not said and showing what you cannot see.”

But while there’s a huge difference between, say, a John Carpenter synth score and a guy just jamming out a few notes on a Casio, Morricone may have a point with the “fear of music” thing. Why shouldn’t The Avengers have a theme as hummable as the title music from Star Wars or Rocky? Maybe Morricone’s just behind the times. He is 86, after all. But coming from the guy who wrote this heartbreakingly beautiful piece of music, it’s worth thinking about:

Advertisement