“Amarcord”- A Fantasy Of Sound And Screen Images!

August 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

Paramount ii“But… Fellini well, movie making for him seems almost effortless, like breathing, and he can orchestrate the most complicated scenes with purity and ease. He`s the Willie Mays of movies.” Roger EbertSeptember 19, 1974

I experienced Amarcord in the historic Paramount Theatre last night. Built in 1915, it has the kind of grandeur and spectacle of a bygone era. I was looking up at the ceiling at an angel with a harp. Perfect to view Federico Fellini`s look back at his life in 1930s Italy. These are impressions of his growing up in Rimini in the newly emerging Fascist culture of Mussolini. I had an epiphany as I watched. I have been listening to the soundtrack to Amarcord, with the music composed by Nino Rota, for some time. When watching, I could see the perfect marriage of Rota`s notes with the zany screen images of Fellini.Amarcord

I saw this more as an afternoon fantasy or a fairytale, than any kind of serious autobiography. Especially with Nito Rota`s music, it`s life in real time in a small town, just at the very moment when its innocence is taken away. One scene has the Fascist soldiers shooting a chimmering gramophone off a church bell tower. Surely symbolic of the suppression of the arts. The theme of the blind accordion player, a sort of village fool,  Le Manine Di Primavera, is interjected periodically to comic effect. Nino Rota`s brilliant medley, Lo Struscio, which morphs such familiar songs as Stormy Weather and La Cucaracha together, is clipped into street scenes that are robust with life, its randomness, full of surprises. The Amarcord theme itself is pure fantasy-we are incapable, in our times, of understanding the romance being projected here by Fellini & his capable partner, Nino Rota. This texture of life is gone, yet preserved by Fellini!

Please support KOOP 91.7 FM Radio in their pledge drive over the next few weeks!

The Velvet Touch Of Nino Rota, Italian Composer Of Film Scores

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

ladolcevita1I have often contemplated who is really the greatest film composer of all time? Is it Ennio Morricone, who teamed up with Sergio Leone, for the classic Spaghetti Westerns? Maybe…Or is it the dark tones of Bernard Hermann who coupled with Alfred Hitchcock? I favor the velvet touch of Nino Rota (1911-1979), an Italian composer, who forged a perfect partnership with Federico Fellini. I watched “Juliet of the Spirits” last night, and was enchanted with the ingenious synching of tracks with the themes of otherworldly spirits, séances, and dreams, that weave in and out of the camera.

Nino Rota`s strength is in the arrangements, that in their complexity, rotate thematic melodies into the storyline of the film, yet they have been given new rhythms and different instruments are employed also. The closest I can come to pigeon-holing, though inadequate to capture Rota`s whole aura, would be ‘circus music’. With lots of bright organ, and muddy lounge guitar, the music builds when Fellini`s eccentric characters promenade across the screen. When the mood gets sad or sentimental, Nino Rota`s provides the perfect texture of ‘heartstring rapture’. Just listen to the theme of “La Dolce Vita,” you can see Anita Ekberg splashing in the Fontana di Trevi, can`t you?

And did you know that Nino Rota wrote the score for The “Godfather?” “The Love Theme of the Godfather” is one of the catchiest film songs of all time! I was an usher at a movie theater when I was a youngster, and I still hum to myself the theme to Franco Zeffirelli`s “Romeo And Juliet”-Mister Rota wrote that too. The ladies would be weeping copiously as they exited the theater. I would say, “Madam, a hanky?” The music trickles from the auditorium…”A Rose will bloom, it then will fade…” I recommend the CD “Amarcord-Nino Rota” as a good sampling of his work. La Doce Vita & TGIF Aound The Water Cooler!