The Danes are renowned for Hans Christian Andersen, modernist design, and LEGOs — and some dramatic performances of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western scores (wah-wahs and all).
I was 9 years old when my father sat me down to watch A Fistful of Dollars. His questionable choice in child-appropriate westerns aside, my father’s decision cemented in me an early love of westerns of all sorts. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; High Noon; Giant; a slew of John Wayne movies — I took them all in. But back to A Fistful of Dollars: I burst with laughter when the Man With No Name corrected his count of caskets in the film’s opening scene. Clint Eastwood’s character was cool and — I wasn’t able to articulate this at the time — the Ennio Morricone score was a character in the movie, a sidekick to the lead role. The scores continued to play a supporting role through all of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. I don’t think the films would have been so compelling to me without that music.
When my son reached the age of 9, I sat him down to watch A Fistful of Dollars. It was past his bedtime, but this was important. Immediately he was hooked. He laughed at the same moment I did. “Dad, this is so cool,” he said, his small arm wrapped around mine. I knew then, my father’s choice wasn’t questionable. It was one western fan sharing something personal with his son, who he hoped would be an admirer of the genre.
So when a friend sent me links to YouTube videos of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra performing the Morricone scores of Leone’s spaghetti westerns, I was once again sitting with my father, who lives 1,000 miles from my home in Dallas, and once again sitting with my son. I was rapt. I was 9 years old. Never has symphonic music been so cool and captivating.
Afterward, treat yourself to Morricone’s heartwrenching score to The Mission, the 1986 film directed by Roland Joffé and costarring Jeremy Irons, Robert De Nero, and Liam Neeson. It is the sound of God crying for His children.