Ooo! More music!
CD: Addio fratello crudele / Tis a Pity She's a Whore (1971)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
DigitMovies Italy
Catalog #:
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October 31, 2006

Tracks / Album Length:

16 / (67:38)


Composer: Ennio Morricone

Special Notes:

12-page colour booklet
Comments :    

Overwrought with emotions veer from chilled & detached to primal rage, Addio Fratello Crudele / Tis a Pity She's a Whore is still an unforgettable experience that wallows in a more intimate depiction of obsession, bad behaviour, and bloody revenge - qualities that were pushed to more epic levels in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus - except here, in director Giuseppe Patroni Griffi's 'free' adaptation of John Ford's 17th century play of incest, there's zero black humour to offset the story's dour, Reevesian malaise.

It's still a cold, uninviting tale, and director Griffi enhanced the film's icy characters and their gloomy castles by letting Vittorio Storaro play with myriad levels of warm, tungsten light on the actors' gorgeous visages, and art director Mario Ceroli use authentic locales as physical artifices to showcase geometric wooden carpentry and polished marble sculptures typical of late-sixties modern design.

Along with poetic dialogue and self-reflective monologues, the soundtrack shares time with Ennio Morricone's period-styled score that boasts one of his strongest title themes. Deeply tragic, Morricone goes for the jugular in capturing the doomed love between a brother, Giovanni, and sister, Annabella, who hadn't set eyes on each other for some time, but can't shake the desire to engage in a sexual union once their eyes meet.

Griffi's Catholic iconography is overtly (and sometimes ridiculously) heavy-handed, painting bad-brother Giovanni as a lost Christ figure who diddles with the wrong fiddle, yet finds some redemption when he tries to defend the family name by committing one helluva grotesque act against new hubbie Soranzo. Morricone's score sticks with the characters, however, and tries to magnify the few vestiges of human tenderness that pop up in misguided fashion.

A good example is "Sveglia nel castello," a gorgeous, jaunty piece that emphasizes woodwinds and a 3/3 phrase. Repeated in spiraling layers with dominant flutes and recorders, the cue has a lofty, innocent quality that's almost playful, and captures Soranzo's bawdy efforts to entice his new wife to the bedroom by showing her two copulating horses. Soranzo's ploy only appalls Annabella, yet the airy textures of Morricone's cue dampen what could have been interpreted as a cruel, gross trick; the music makes it more clear that the stroll was Soranzo's means to express desires and concepts he simply cannot verbalize. His swaggering behaviour in an early scene, where he torments both brother Giovanni and Father Bonaventura by a well, reinforces a crude shell that harbors intimate yearnings which, as with brother Giovanni, have tormented him for years.

As a contrast, "Frate Bonaventura" has two functions in the film: Morricone uses gentle vocal and string textures to mask the traditional dies irae, which he employs to capture the priest's own torment in harboring the truth of the brother-sister union, and their unborn childl; and to reaffrim the priest's position in being the only person with whom Giovanni can release the dangerous thoughts that fill his mind.

Like the brother's sinful ideas that are eventually put into action, Morricone builds a devastating, tragic ascension of chords, percussion taps, soothing vocals, and those interwoven, high register strings that pile on the pain, and he telegraph to the audience that this ill-bent union will reach a horrifying level of sorrow. Director Griffi unfortunately goes for heightened melodrama near the end (quite reminiscent of the Baroque stylings of Julie Taymor's Titus), but Morricone's cue certainly tries to remind us of the characters' pain when Griffi goes for a free-for-all. "Frate Bonaventura" also underscores a high-pitched scene where Giovanni seeks counsel from the walking priest; when his silent pleas go unanswered, he repeatedly flings dirt into the priest's eyes.

DigitMovies' CD contains the complete score, plus some experimental, modernistic cues like "Le prime ombre" and the dissonant "Sospensione prima" that weren't used in the film. Director Griffi actually reuses a few cues (some in successive scenes) between moments of silence or chilling, isolated natural sounds, and the "Frate Bonaventura" cue is also much shorter in the film; the CD contains two versions, including a stunning (9:25) version placed early in the CD's narrative.

Previously released as a 45 rpm single LP in Japan, DigitMovies' CD finally makes available one of Morricone's most beautiful scores, mastered from decent source materials in true stereo. Composed in 1971, the score demonstrates the fascinating genres for which the composer was writing wholly different soundtracks, including Pasolini's The Decameron, the crime docu-drama Sacco and Vanzetti, improvised jazz in Enzo Castellari's Cold Eyes of Fear, and the prog-rock/jazz/classical fusions in Dario Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet.

Morricone's other scores for director Griffi include the unforgettable Metti una sera a cena / Love Circle (1969), Divina creatura / The Divine Nymph (1976), and La Gabbia / Collector's Item (1985).


© 2006 Mark R. Hasan

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