Ennio Morricone

" The monumental pièce de résistance is the intense 12-minute-long ´Revolver´ cue. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Sergio Sollima’s 1973 Revolver is a Poliziotteschi, an Italian subgenre that despite common elements - graphic violence, corruption, a critical view of the bureaucratic system, vigilantes... - is often approached from so many angles. The film tells the plot of a prison officer Vito Cipriani whose wife is kidnapped and is being asked to extradite her for the imprisoned criminal Milo Ruiz. As he helps the criminal to breakout, they go after kidnappers, only to find out they have a mutual enemy, which creates a friendship between them. There are several remarkable things about this film: the consistently drunk, yet stunning performance by Oliver Reed, a moving downbeat ending, which has something to say about the 'system', and the memorable music by Ennio Morricone.

Ennio Morricone scored few Poliziotteschi films, of which Revolver and the ruthless Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare are the most notable, while there were equally brilliant scores by composer such as Carlo Rustichelli, Micalizzi and Guido/Maurizio De Angelis.

The film opens with the evocative instrumental version of ´Un Amico (aka Un Ami)´, a well-deserved overarching piece to allude to the friendship between the cop and the criminal, while in the opening it also connects to Ruiz, who loses his partner in crime. This evocative piece is also heard at the very end of the film, but the way it is treated is something of a curiosity. It is never, in between its introduction and closure, used in a manner that arguably could accompany the growing bond between Ruiz and Cipriani openly. Their friendship is progressively unspoken of, only to become truly unavoidably strong and evident towards the end. The instrumental version derives from a version sung by Daniel Beretta, including a brilliant melody and especially the sweeping strings are what makes this easily the best, but cheesy song of Morricone's career. Apparently, two versions exist, one sung in French and one in Italian, but the film and all scores releases include the French version. Beretta also plays a character, a French popular singer, used in connecting some dots, is actually quite an unnecessary role. The first version of the song is a diegetic piece, an acoustic guitar version that Beretta plays and sings in a scene in which a camera crew films his promotion of the song, only later to be played on a vinyl player in its original recording twice, but briefly. The expanded release of the score does include more variations of the song, but it particularly misses out on a light piano, almost muzak variation for a scene, as Ruiz is in hiding accompanied by an enchanting girlfriend, and it also misses out on a different piece of light piano music, unrelated to any of Morricone’s score. There is also the wonderful trumpet version of Un Ami, also unused in context.

For La Rese del Conto and Un Genio, due compari, un pollo Morricone quoted Beethoven's Für Elise, but in Revolver it's essential to the theme for Cipriani's wife Anna, The introduction to the theme comes in a romantic scene between husband and wife, but goes through numerous variations including two that mix with typical Morricone tension. It is especially interesting to see that early the film, once she has disappeared, a piano and unrecognizable sheet music is shown in Cipriani's house, suggesting that Fur Elise is probably an important, often played piece by his wife, while he touches insignificant piano keys, only to illustrate his grief.

The score does have a few pieces of music that do not necessarily do anything dramatic. ´´In un altro bar´, on the expanded released presented in three different versions, is typically catchy 1970s funky pop music, used for two short scenes in which the Cipriani and Ruiz are chased by the police in the snowy mountains. Most of it is unused in the film. Another very appealing cue is another typically 1970s variation on music by Vivaldi, Quasi Un Vivaldi, whose two released versions are entirely unused in the film. Also missing on any release is a really short piece of ´lounge´ early into the film as Cipriani follows up on a lead.

The composer was known for composing and recording music to a film, to which, at a certain point, he felt he provided them with a sufficient amount of music, stopped to do anything else, hoping his material would be nicely edited into the film. In Revolver, some of his recorded music wasn't used at all, other pieces partially. The monumental pièce de résistance is the intense 12-minute-long ´Revolver´ cue. It is a demonstration of the best minimal music idea of his entire career, build around an ever-repeating motif, performed by piano, electric guitar, keyboards, drums, edgy brass and strings. Morricone consciously recorded this convenient piece as a professionally prepared ´demo´, a piece that could so easily to be cut in smaller pieces and edited into the film, which they did, but he also composed a series of variations to provide different nuances, It's his best minimal piece, a great idea to drive the narrative forward. There are few dozen of other scores that tap into similar minimal, suspense ideas, going from the more intense 1974 Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare to his music to La Piovra, but nothing so good as this. Unfortunately, the demonstrative and conceptual idea of the 12-minute cue isn't used in the film. ´Inseguimento e fuga´ is the longest variation underscoring the escape of Ruiz. There are many other versions, and it is introduced in a subdued, slower version, ´Revolver (suspense)´ on the expanded release, prior the jailbreak. All the music releases miss out on a few renditions, especially the brilliant final use near the end; a slow variation with an intense increase in the dynamics of the brass section. As a recognizable motif, it is radiant, overall very melodic and powerful, although isn't as aggressive and harsh as some of his other familiar suspense motifs.

Revolver is a classic Morricone score, with memorable minimal main motif, an unforgettable song (and instrumental versions), some appealing funky music and a gripping theme for Anna. The film, the 36 minutes long Dagored CD release (2000) and the expanded 1-hour long GDM CD release (2006) all offer different experiences. Regardless, the Dagored release is the best comprised listening experience.

Tracklist (Dagored, 2000)
1. Un Amico (02:36)
2. Revolver (12:37)
3. Anna (02:04)
4. Un Amico (02:35)
Performed by Daniel Beretta
5. Quasi Un Vivaldi (01:54)
6. Pericolo Per Anna (01:45)
7. Inseguimento E Fuga (03:36)
8. In Un Bar (02:23)
9. Rapimento (02:26)
10. In Un Altro Bar (02:08)
11. Un Amico (Synth Version) (02:34)

Total Duration: 00:36:38

Tracklist (GDM 2006, expanded)
1. Un amico (02:35)
2. Revolver (12:39)
3. Anna (02:04)
4. Quasi un Vivaldi (01:54)
5. Pericolo per Anna (01:46)
6. Un amico (titoli) (02:35)
7. Inseguimento e fuga (03:37)
8. In un bar (02:22)
9. Rapimento (02:27)
10. In un altro bar (02:07)
11. Un amico (vers. chitarra 12 corde) (01:10)
12. Revolver (suspense) (01:44)
13. Anna (#2) (02:27)
14. Quasi un Vivaldi (#2) (03:04)
15. Inseguimento e fuga (#2) (03:26)
16. In un altro bar (#2) (02:03)
17. Rapimento (#2) (01:37)
18. Un amico (vers. tromba) (02:32)
19. In un altro bar (#3) (02:49)
20. Inseguimento e fuga (#3) (03:34)
21. Un amico (vers. synth) (02:43)

Total Duration: 01:01:15

(written 19-07-2020)
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Released by

Dagored (regular release 2000)