Jona Che Visse nella Balena

Ennio Morricone

" the music is introvert and calm "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Jona Che Visse nella Balena is a 1993 drama directed by Roberto Faenza. The film is based on the book Kinderjaren (Childhood) by the Dutch writer Jona Oberski which describes his experiences of being imprisoned in the concentration camps Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen during the Second World War. Ennio Morricone, reportedly very taken by the film, wrote the original music. In 2009, he engaged himself in writing the memorable score to the TV movie Mi Ricordo Anna Frank, based on the recollections of one of the best friends of the famous Anne Frank.

In assessing the value of the music Morricone wrote to Jona Che Visse nella Balena, there is an inevitable parallel with the 2005 Sorstalanság (Fateless). Both of these films focus on a child surviving the dreadful circumstances in a concentration camp. In Sorstalanság the boy is 14 years old and the key element of his experiences is that, while sees terrible things, he has a very positive attitude that helps him in his survival. The composer underscores that with almost scarily positively sounding music, while the larger portion is of the score is very reflective, poignant and dramatic.

In Jona Che Visse nella Balena the boy is considerably younger and Morricone approaches him from a childish point of view and the music is introvert and calm, with minimal poignant shades. There are two principal themes, first heard in 'Una allegrezza semplice' and "Canoni per Jonah', that beautifully intertwine in several other cues. They reflect the child’s point of view and the warm bond with his family, illustrated with trademark Morricone styled orchestrated music, also including panpipes. But especially the childish tone of 'Canoni per Jonah´ so brilliantly provides a sense of innocence for the boy, driven by gentle and playful twinkling, magical sounds. While there are shades of poignant dramas, Morricone generally depends on these two lightly subdued themes, presented in numerous variations.

Morricone reflects on Jewish culture by a devastating lament for the prisoners (Un Treno Di Disperati), while also arranging 'Gam Gam', a Jewish song composed by Elie Botbol and performed by the children’s choir Les "Chevatim". There is another song too, Jonah Who Lived In The Whale, performed by Susie Lion, which is just outlandish. It sounds like it was destined for performance in a jazz nightclub; entirely wrong for the film.

The score is impressively introspective and calm in nature, relying on small, but moving renditions of a theme for the bond with the boy's family and of a musical theme that reflects his innocent point of view.

1. Ricordi Di Infanzia (02:11)
2. Una Allegrezza Semplice (01:45)
3. Canoni Per Jonah (02:26)
4. Gam Gam (02:20)
Lyrics & Music by Elie Botbol
5. La Madre (03:52)
6. Senza Sapere Senza Capire (01:49)
7. La Casa (05:46)
8. Il Padre (03:08)
9. Un Treno Di Disperati (04:19)
10. La Famiglia (01:44)
11. Tensioni Nel Campo (04:00)
12. Jonah Who Lived In The Whale (02:03)
(Dandylion/E. Morricone) Performed by Susie Lion
13. Una Serenita' Vera (02:56)
14. Ricordi Di Infanzia (03:59)
15. La Visione Del Padre (02:30)

Total Duration: 00:44:48

(written 10-07-2020)
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(total of 1 votes - average 4.5/5)

Released by

CAM (regular release 1993)