When he was asked to score The Mission, Ennio Morricone was perhaps best known at least in the public mind for those seemingly irreverent sounds that accompanied the Spaghetti Westerns. He may therefore have seemed like a strange choice for a film set in the South American jungle, where Jesuit priests strove to retain their missionary presence in the face of external threats and internal temptation. But those who recognised the mystical quality which Morricone brought to those earlier soundtracks would realise that he was an inspired choice to score The Mission. And he rose to the challenge beautifully to create one of his best musical soundscapes.
That soundscape is a fusion of musical ideas representing different facets of the setting and the story, indeed drawing metaphorical parallels between the physical and the emotional world. There is the raw jungle sound of drums and pan pipes representing man's earthly existence, there are vocal and solo themes portraying the perfection that man might strive for, and the powerful orchestral feelings of anger and lust to which he can so easily succumb. These various thematic and instrumental elements are combined to create a musical experience which perfectly complements the story on screen, and is also a very satisfying musical experience on its own.