The Mission

Ennio Morricone - The Mission soundtrack CD cover 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.

The Mission is a must for any soundtrack collection, and available on these shopping sites: in the UK, or in the US.

Track listing:

  • On Earth as it is in Heaven - a quiet hymn of hope morphing into a sublime mix of "Gabriel's Oboe", chants and drums
  • Falls - peaceful panpipes
  • Gabriel's Oboe - one of the most serene tunes in film music history
  • Ave Maria Guarani - unaccompanied voices suggesting Christian and native traditions
  • Brothers - solo flute and guitar above strings
  • Carlotta - more guitar and strings but a less peaceful undercurrent
  • Vita Nostra - Gabriel's Oboe on ethnic whistle with the staccato chanting and drums again
  • Climb - a different crescendo mix of the various elements
  • Remorse - unharmonic strings, plucked and bowed before rescue by Gabriel
  • Penance - a dark canon starting on contrabassoon, complete with Dies Irae
  • The Mission - a reminder of the hymn tune
  • River - wholesome chants and drum
  • Gabriel's Oboe - served differently, but deserves repetition
  • Te Deum Guarani - more voices with basic percussion accompaniment
  • Refusal - panpipes now more threatening, and military elements
  • Asuncion - ethnic instruments give the chant theme an unsettled air
  • Alone - an earthy feeling of isolation
  • Guarani - little comfort from disturbing pan pipes and other sounds
  • The Sword - more desperate disturbed thoughts
  • Miserere - wordless boy soprano and quiet strings