Sacco e Vanzetti

Ennio Morricone

" The theme is a praiseworthy, sad composition for the strings sections and hobo. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Sacco e Vanzetti tells the historical tale of two Italian immigrants in America, both falsely accused of a robbery, but also the story of two anarchists who were charged and unfairly tried for murder when it was really for their political convictions. Giuliano Montaldo directed the political drama and has worked together with Morricone on no less than 12 projects, a record that Giuseppe Tornatore might break eventually. The most notably score is the miniseries of Marco Polo, a true masterpiece. Other interesting works include I demoni di San Pietroburgo, Il Giocattolo andGott mit uns (Dio è con noi) .

The whole idea of the film was to make a documentary styled (neo-realism) experience, which Morricone underscored a rather melodramatic, but unforgettable theme, a few songs and some terrific suspenseful material. The theme is a praiseworthy, sad composition for the strings sections and hobo, used in different kinds of typical Morricone'variations. The opening cue is introducing the hobo almost immediately, while the hobo appears just after a minute in themore imminent and slower statement of Liberta' Nella Speranza, while Speranze Di Liberta' (#2) is a short variation with a significant increase in tempo. Another subtheme was written for Sacco and his son. Its first statement is heard in Sacco E Il Figlio, with melodramatic, touching Delerueish strings (most notably the Le Mepris theme) and electric organ, but wtih a slightly more hopeful touch to it, while the second variation is more subdued. Its melody is also rearranged for the song Ballata Di Sacco E Vanzetti - II parte.

Nel carcere is the cue that introduces the haunting and bleak musical side to this score, using shrieking violins, organ, percussion and harpsichord, while introducing the brilliant sound of a synthesizer imitating sounds associated with the electric chair. The disturbing nature of the cue is continued in other cues such as E Dover Morire. I find the imitation of the electric chair a stroke of genius that, with equally great support of the theme, communicating the sad events and foreboding towards the actual execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. To some extent, the organ helps in adressing this, but is far from the originality of the synths waves mimicking the electric chair. La Sedia Elettrica is solely preserved for the electric chair sound, which is still brilliant, even though small fragments are more effective in other compositions.

Songs have been a difficult part of Morricone´s scores. I think he was usually given someone to work with and in terms of orchestrations and arrangements, the maestro went to extensive lengths to match the voice of the singer, I think the greatest songs of all are Daniel Beretta for Revolver (Un Ami), Ami Stewart for Il Segreto di Sahara and Dulce Pontes for La Luz Prodigiosa. The song Un Ami (Revolver) is based on the main theme, and while its lyrics are quite obnoxious, they work very well given the great music itself and the film being a poluzione, which can bare such jejune things easily. Il segreto di Sahara is a bit tricky, since Stewart sings to the fantastic main theme, while Edda Del'Orso also did a similar variation with worldless vocals. If the song and more specifically the lyrics are mediocre and the music is based on a great theme, the lyrics are quite often thought of while listening to the rest of the score. That is an negative effect that lyrics can have, so in general I am not in favour of them. I feel that Moricone should have refused a lot of request for songs and songs that originated from his own mind. Unfortunately, the maestro has also worked on numerous new recordings for concert performance and albums, working closely with many artistst, who sang to music that originally never had lyrics. It is the one thing that casts a dark shadow over, an otherwise, impressive resume. Then again, things could get interesting if Morricone would, one day, turn experimental compositions into songs, but chances are slim.

For Sacco e Vanzetti the filmmakers attracted Joan Baez and Morricone wrote whole mostly new compositions, including fragments of his own score, while the the subtheme Sacco E Il Figlio is redesigned for the Part II ballad. Together they made a couple of protest songs, which seem like reasonable ideas, but in the film they sound blase and distract from the film. Her voice is actually quite beautiful and the dynamic of her voice comes out nicely, but lyrics such as ´Father, fear not, I am a prisoner or ´Dont´t Cry´, can be so much better translated into instrumental score. The first three songs are actually, independently from the film, fine and I have grown to appreciate them a bit over the years. Here´s to You is by far the most well known songs Morricone ever made, because the song somehow connected to many people and sold may records, while the composer is persistent to keep it alive in concert performances. The tone of this songs is ridiculously happy and have become to dislike it very much. Luckily, Morricone didn´t make upbeat song variation of the main theme, which would have been unforgivable. In watching the film or listening to a music release, it simply appalling that this song ends both of them. Bizarly, some releases present the instrumental introduction of the songs seperateraly, while others present it as a whole.

Sacco e Vanzetti is a film with a classic main theme, an admirable secondary theme, an appealing electric chair imitation and wonderful dark dissonance. The songs, for previously mentioned reasons, fill me with mixed, mostly negative feelings. I would say without the songs, it would easily be close to 9 out of 10, but I feel I cannot just ignore them. It is rather short and for some releasess a few alternative takes were added, but in reality these add virtually nothing, making the 33 minutes, released by a handful of music labels. the best choice.

1. Speranze Di Libertà (02:30)
2. La Ballata Di Sacco E Vanzetti - I Parte (05:03)
(Ennio Morricone - Joan Baez) sung by Joan Baez
3. Nel Carcere (02:07)
4. La Ballata Di Sacco E Vanzetti - II Parte (05:23)
(Ennio Morricone - Joan Baez) sung by Joan Baez
5. Sacco E Il Figlio (01:52)
6. Speranze Di Libertà (#2) (00:46)
7. Nel Carcere (#2) (02:39)
8. La Ballata Di Sacco E Vanzetti - III Parte (06:27)
(Ennio Morricone - Joan Baez) sung by Joan Baez
9. Libertà Nella Speranza (02:05)
10. E Dover Morire (03:04)
11. Sacco E Il Figlio (#2) (01:48)
12. La Sedia Elettrica (02:01)
13. Libertà Nella Speranza (#2) (01:18)
14. Here's To You (03:10)
(Ennio Morricone - Joan Baez) sung by Joan Baez & Choir I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni

Total duration: 33:01
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 1 votes - average 3.5/5)

Released by

RCA Records (regular release 1980)