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  • Writer's pictureAshley

Celebrating Morricone's Legacy at Shin-Bungeiza Cinema

Nestled in the vibrant city of Ikebukoro, Tokyo, Shin-Bungeiza (新文芸坐) holds a special place in the hearts of film enthusiasts. Known for its diverse selection of Japanese and Western films, this independent theater offers an array of old and new cinematic treasures, including Hollywood classics, art films, documentaries, and anime. On May 28th, 2023, Shin-Bungeiza began “The Morricone Festival''—a series of movie screenings and talk shows celebrating the musical legacy of film composer Ennio Morricone. Notable films being presented include Italian dramas directed by Giuseppe Tornatore: “ニューシネマパラダイス” (Cinema Paradiso) and “海の上のピアニスト” (The Pianist on the Sea, also known as The Legend of 1900.)

Renowned for his contribution to over 500 films since the 1960’s, Morricone pioneered film music by blending genres, utilizing unconventional instruments and sound effects, and above all—crafting unforgettable melodies. These mesmerizing compositions, interwoven with powerful dialogue, created cinematic soundscapes that were truly ahead of their time. The theater at Shin-Bungeiza allows us to rediscover music of this era in a new way, as films of the 60’s were originally presented in monaural format, meaning that the audience experienced sound solely from a single, central speaker. The Audio Room Shin-Bungeiza offers a wonderful environment for contemporary stereo and immersive audio, accompanied by stunning visuals revived in mesmerizing 4K. Within this theater, the "Bungei-Phonic Sound System" ensures that Morricone's music is presented in its full potential, thanks to the work of Seigen Ono, a mastering engineer and admirer of Morricone, in collaboration with Mr. Umehara, a projection specialist at Shin-Bungeiza.

Amidst The Morricone Festival, Shin-Bungeiza is treating cinema enthusiasts to Cinema Paradiso, a heartwarming, taboo-ridden 1988 Italian drama. Set in a quaint Sicilian village after World War II, this film weaves the tale of Salvatore (AKA “Toto”), a young boy whose curiosity towards cinema blossoms into a lifelong passion. Cinema Paradiso delves into the profound impact of movies, often blurring the lines between reality and the cinematic realm as we watch an on-screen audience engrossed in their own film. These thought-provoking scenes invite us to reflect on the power of cinema and our own role as active participants in the cinematic experience. Upholding the film's narrative is the ethereal musical score composed by Ennio Morricone and his son, Andrea Morricone.

Within the Audio Room Shin-Bungeiza, another cinematic gem is being presented: The Legend of 1900, a 1998 Italian drama that has ignited a love for film in myself and countless others. This film follows the extraordinary life of Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon Nineteen Hundred, fondly known as "1900," a gifted pianist who was born and raised on the SS Virginian ship at the dawn of the 20th century. The film delves into the profound fear that prevented 1900 from ever venturing onto land, ultimately hindering him from landing a music career, landing a romantic relationship, and embarking on a new life in New York City. Morricone's score beautifully portrays the protagonist's ability to capture the essence and endeavors of those aboard the ship. It also portrays the emotional journey of his lifelong voyage, culminating in his demise on the vessel of dreams.

Ennio Morricone's prowess as a film composer is celebrated as one of the greatest in history. His work has left a mark on the world of cinema, with melodies that have etched themselves into the hearts and minds of audiences across the globe. Though his departure from this world on July 6, 2020 left a void in the film industry, his musical legacy continues to inspire and uplift. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate his legacy at Shin-Bungeiza in Tokyo this summer (2023).



1-43-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo


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