In other release news, we have a look at the cover artwork for Studio Canal’s forthcoming 4K Ultra HD release of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which is now set for August 10 release in the UK (we’re still waiting for details on the US release, but Shout! Factory seems likely). In any case, you can see the official cover artwork on the right there (and you can read more on the restoration here at Empire online).
Also today, RLJE Films will be releasing James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/28.
Lionsgate has set the 3-part History Channel documentary Washington for release on DVD on 8/25. The Digital version is already available.
Well Go USA will release Lech Majewski’s Valley of the Gods on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on 8/11.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics will be releasing The Milagro Beanfield War on Blu-ray on 9/29.
And Scorpion Releasing has set Paul Donovan’s Def-Con 4 (1985) for release on Blu-ray on 9/15.
Now then... I’d obviously be remiss if I didn’t take a moment today to acknowledge the passing of the great Italian film composer Ennio Morricone.
I will personally never forget the first time I heard Morricone’s music. I was a new sophomore transfer student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1987, still trying to decide on my major. I’d gotten a work study job in the Communication Arts department as a projectionist, setting up and projecting foreign and classic films for the department’s Film majors in Vilas Hall. One evening, I arrived in the main office to pick up that night’s film and saw the title C’era Una Volta Il West (1968) printed on the cans. I took them into the theater, got them set up in the projection booth—a 16mm print on multiple reels requiring an anamorphic lens. I loaded the first two reels up onto dual projectors and started the first one running at the scheduled time, when all of the students were seated.
What followed then, as I watched enraptured from the projection booth, was the most incredible opening 20 minutes of film I had ever seen in my entire life up to that point: Director Sergio Leone’s virtuoso use of the full widescreen cinemascope frame—extreme close ups, extreme wide shots, hardly any dialogue but nerve-jangling use of sound... and of course Ennio Morricone’s magnificent score, culminating in the reveal of the film’s villain, Frank, as played by Henry Fonda of all people. Henry Fonda... as a villain! And that iconic piece of music as Frank and his gunmen killed the McBain family—Come una sentenza, it’s called... As a Judgment—ballsy and full of swagger. That right there is when I truly and fully fell in love with the cinema. Right then. It gives me chills today, just thinking about it. That’s when the course of the rest of my life was set. Needless to say, I nearly missed the reel changes that night!
Once Upon a Time in the West remains to this day my favorite western. And of course, its score is just scratching the surface of Morricone’s oeuvre. Later I would hear and come to love his music for De Palma’s The Untouchables, Carpenter’s The Thing, Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso, Baarìa, and The Legend of 1900, Bertolucci’s 1900, Malick’s Days of Heaven, Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and his other collaborations with Leone. Morricone was prolific… with over 500 films to his credit... and an undisputed master. Film lovers the world over owe him a very great debut. I know I certainly do. Morricone was 91. You can read more about him here at The New York Times. Addio e grazie, signore.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned...