Talking Movies

February 12, 2015

Ennio Morricone: My Life in Music

Film composer Ennio Morricone belied his 86 years for a sprightly concert conducting some of his most beloved scores in a sold-out Point last Saturday.

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Morricone was conducting the full Czech National Symphony Orchestra, some 86 musicians, backed by the 76 singers of the Kodaly Choir of Debrecen in Hungary. He began with the piano-led title theme from The Untouchables with its unusual wailing brass, before segueing into a suite of rich string-led themes from his last collaboration with director Sergio Leone, Once Upon a Time in America, and then his lengthy theme for frequent collaborator Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Legend of 1900, which combined lush orchestration with surprising diversions into cabaret and blues to musically recreate the feel of years going by on a cruise ship. Morricone’s fondness for bundling so many themes into one set caused more than a few disruptive moments where the audience determinedly applauded, drowning out the start of the next tune, leading my sometime co-writer John Healy to suspect rhythmic holding patterns in later segues…

Morricone has scored an unreasonable amount of films and TV miniseries, most of them Italian, so he showcased his less familiar work with a selection from the late 60s and early 70s, including H2S and Metti, una sera a cena. Two themes from Love Circle had an unfortunate tendency to lapse into 70s romance pastiche, but Maddalena and The Sicilian Clan were unfamiliar works which stood out; utilising electric guitar and drums gave a rockier feel akin to Lalo Schifrin’s Dirty Harry score, and Sicilian Clan in particular managed to combine romance and menace simultaneously. Morricone’s final pre-interval set showcased his career-defining work with Leone with the slowly building choral and orchestral splendour and jagged guitars of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dynamite, and ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’.

After the interval Morricone unveiled three more sets of themes. Collaborations with directors Tornatore, Brian De Palma, and Gillo Pontecorvo were highlighted in the choice of themes from Cinema Paradiso, Malena, Casualties of War, The Battle of Algiers, and Burn! all. While those scores for Tornatore and De Palma are all about tugging at the heart-strings thru lush strings, the edgier music for Pontecorvo is all about percussion – indeed the ironically joyous ‘Abolisson’ from Burn! was performed with no fewer than five percussionists. Morricone also conducted more scores from obscure Italian films, with the jokey percussion instrumentation and mock-suspense melody of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and the distorted keyboard and jaunty melody of La classes operaia va in paradise particularly noteworthy. Morricone’s final set was inevitably The Mission: ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’, ‘Falls’, ‘On Earth as It Is in Heaven’.

The maestro spoke only thru his music, but his three encores; ‘Here’s to You’, ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’, ‘On Earth as It Is in Heaven’; said it all. Morricone is one of that select band of composers whose music has escaped the films they were meant to complement to take on a life of their own. Whether it’s the inimitable whistling of Leone’s Wild West or the quasi-sacramental effect of his famous oboe solo Morricone has transcended the medium.

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October 29, 2014

Six Days of the Rising

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Web Summit, Image Now Productions, and Indiegogo are launching a crowd-funding campaign for new film Six Days of the Rising, helmed by acclaimed director Nick Ryan, at Web Summit 2014.

Old and new worlds will collide at the Web Summit when Nick Ryan (Director-Producer of award-winning documentary The Summit) launches a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo for his latest film on the 1916 Easter Rising. In front of an audience of 20,000 attendees at the Web Summit, Europe’s largest festival of tech and ideas, Nick Ryan and Danae Ringelmann, founder of Indiegogo, will discuss crowd-funding in films on the Marketing Summit Stage on Tuesday 4th November.

The funds raised through the Indiegogo campaign page (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/6-days-of-the-rising#home) will go towards script and visual concept development to bring the Dublin of 1916 before, during, and after The Rising to cinematic life. In addition to contributing to the realisation of the feature people who subscribe to the fund will also be entitled to certain perks including vintage stamps, personalised newspapers, medals, and limited edition copies of the original storyboards for the movie. The campaign will go live on Saturday November 1.

Six Days of the Rising will be an explosive and gripping account of an epochal moment in history, exploring the human cost of insurrection in a time of great change. The Easter Rising was a pivotal moment in world history, arguably making an independent India inevitable, as a six day war was fought skilfully by a group of rebels against 16,000 troops of the largest empire in the world. Brutal, honest, violent and uncompromising, in the taut documentary style of Bloody Sunday and The Battle of Algiers, acclaimed director Nick Ryan will recreate this epic fight for independence and the destruction of Dublin onscreen as never before seen. And, given recent ahistoric attempts to portray 1916 as a mistake because 1918 would have seen all-island Home Rule, this is a chance to ensure that the foundation of the Republic receives its due cinematic commemoration during this decade of vital centenaries.

The movie will be part-funded through an Indiegogo campaign that will launch around The Web Summit, and is scheduled to go into production in early 2015. Nick Ryan is a founding director of Image Now Films, and has directed and produced the acclaimed Sundance award-winning feature documentary The Summit about the K2 tragedy involving Ger McDonnell. That film went on to win seven other major awards as well as an IFTA for best feature documentary. Nick also wrote, directed, and produced the award winning short film A Lonely Sky, and in 2008 wrote and directed the award winning The German.

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Miranda Fleming, of Indiegogo UK Film & Creative says, “I’m in awe of the creativity coming from our European filmmakers and Nick Ryan’s latest project, Six Days of the Rising, is just another example of this. For Nick to select Indiegogo as his crowd-funding platform of choice and to kick off the campaign at Dublin Web Summit speaks volumes. As part of Indiegogo’s ongoing commitment to support talented filmmakers and the creative community worldwide, we’re excited to provide his campaign the support it needs to reach the largest global audience.” Paddy Cosgrave, Web Summit founder, is equally enthusiastic: “I’m delighted to have Nick speak at the Web Summit, his approach to film-making is always innovative and compelling. His work and this initiative fit perfectly with calibre of speakers we have on film and tech this year which includes Tim Webber who won an Oscar for his special effects on Gravity.”

Nick Ryan himself says, “Recreating the Dublin of 1916 will require the representation of the city before and after the immense destruction. The city is a character in the film and we believe that accuracy in the geography and look of the building is essential. To enable this we intend to create a very large exterior stage with the appropriate cobblestone street and lower level structure combined with 100ft high blue/green screen backgrounds, and composite authentic models of the surrounding buildings in the various stages of destruction. Rather than focusing on the leaders of the Rising, we will portray the events from the perspective of a man whose journey across the barricaded city brings him in contact with both sides of the conflict. We will bring a level of authenticity to the production that like The Summit, puts you firmly on the ground during the extraordinary events of Easter 1916”.

Web Summit is Europe’s largest festival of ideas, and has been dubbed “Davos for geeks.” Founded in 2010, the event has grown exponentially; and this year will host more than 20,000 attendees and guests in Dublin on November 4th– 6th, with over 1,100 journalists from more than 70 countries covering proceedings. Over the past three years, Elon Musk (founder of Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal), Niklas Zennström (founder of Skype), Reed Hastings (founder of Netflix), David Karp (founder of Tumblr), Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter and Square), and Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim (co-founders of YouTube) have been speakers at the Web Summit. Some of the 600 speakers this year include Peter Thiel (co-founder of Paypal and Palantir as well as the first investor in Facebook), Drew Houston (founder of Dropbox), Brendan Iribe (CEO of Oculus), and TV producer Eva Longoria.

Indiegogo is the largest global crowd-funding platform. Campaigns have launched from almost every country around the world, with millions of dollars being distributed every week due to contributions made by the Indiegogo community. Indiegogo is dedicated to democratizing the way people raise funds for any project – creative, entrepreneurial, or cause-related. The company was launched in 2008 and is (unsurprisingly) headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.indiegogo.com or follow it at http://www.twitter.com/indiegogo and www.facebook.com/indiegogo.

You can contribute to Six Days of the Rising at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/6-days-of-the-rising#home

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