music critics about the film "Stanno tutti bene"
by Peili Xu in Oct, 2013 in Paris
the great success of "Nuovo cinema paradiso (Cinema paradiso)"
in 1988, the "Stanno tutti bene (Everyone's fine)"
(Note 1) becomes another masterpiece of the Italian young
director Giuseppe Tornatore. This time, he still wrote the
story by himself. The cameraman, the editor, the art decorator,
the make up designer and the costumer, all are the same who
worked for "Nuovo cinema paradiso (New paradise cinema)".
And as for the soundtracks, they are still written by Ennio
Morricone, one of the first-class composers of the world.
Morricone has worked for hundreds of movies worldwide, in
which the effect of the music could always be strengthened.
This can be felt even by the audience who used to not pay
special attention to the music. Obviously, this is totally
counted on the characters in Morricone's music, which are:
1. The subjects of the music are various, the melody is
rustic, smooth, and easy to be sung, so that the music always
infects the people rapidly and powerfully; 2. All kinds
of the instruments are used that the tones are so unique,
so special and unforgettable; 3. The creative way of composing
the music enriches the musical vocabularies, so that widen
the mind of the audience (especially the professionals).
These features are mostly demonstrated in his works written
between the 1960s and 1980s. On the other word, the period
from 1964 to 1984 when Ennio Morricone cooperated with Sergio
Leone (note 2) is the golden age for both of them. They,
the two talents in the film area, wrote an important chapter
in the history of Italian movies. From the insouciant whistle,
the unprecedented sound of waving whip and the bantering
male chorus in "A Fistful of Dollars, 1964", to
the bizarre, ridicule, avant-garde tones made by the harmonica
and the mute trumpet in "The Good, The Bad and The
Ugly, 1966", until the gloomy panpipe solo and the
"Ragtime" movements played in the inn in "Once
Upon a Time in America, 1984", all fresh the audience.
The audience will be difficult to forget the shrill harmonica
sound and the humorous banjo sound. And the soprano's humming
throughout Leone's "trilogy" (Note 3), which as
if lasts forever, affects the common reminiscent emotion
of the human beings. The humming is highly commended by
everyone in the movie industry and becomes the classic one
of Morricone's works.
specialties of this movie, however, are not only the ambiance
represented by Ennio's music, but also the Italian national
music, which can be found wherever in the movie. Penetrating
the factor of opera through the whole story, is the inspiration
of Giuseppe Tornatore, and is exactly what he persuades
in the whole process of his creation. If "Nuovo cinema
paradiso (New paradise cinema)" is a movie about the
films, a movie which reminisces the human being's emotion
and the development of the films (Note 4), then "Stanno
tutti bene (Everyone's fine)" is a movie about the
operas, or rather, a movie take fully use of all the factors
of the operas just as a painting using all the colors on
a palette. All the phenomena in the modern society in this
story is brought out by this greatest Italian national art,
and from the view of an old but wise, optimistic and calm
man. In a word, the idea of merging the film's history in
the movie "Nuovo cinema paradiso (New paradise cinema)"
definites the movie as a movie "of film" and the
idea of merging the opera in the movie "Stanno tutti
bene (Everyone's fine)" definites the movie as a movie
character is represented in three aspects in this film,
which are very close to each other. First of all, from the
view of the creation of the drama, the set up of the roles:
Old Scuro, the chief role in the film, names his five children
after the name of the roles in those famous Italian operas.
Say, his eldest son is named Alvaro, from the chief role
of "La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny)"
of Verdi. He didn't actually show up (as an adult), which
is the most tragic role in the film and is cared by his
father the most. The old Scuro treats Napoli as his first
stop so as to visit Alvaro primarily, but fails, and know
the truth until the end of the film that his eldest son
has killed himself. By this, the name Alvaro becomes the
symbol of "the force of destiny", and promotes
the development of the plot. And so the name promotes naturally
the naissance and the development of the theme. Hence, the
name is one of the most important details in this film.
The names of the other four children are Canio, the chief
role in "Pagliacci" of Leoncavallo (Note5); Gugllielmo
(Note 7), the chief role in "Guillaume Tell" of
Rossini (Note 8); Tosca, the chief female role in "Norma"
of Puccini (Note 9); Norma, the chief female role in "Norma"
of Bellini. The meanings of these names and the stories
of these composers are also melt into this film by the creative
director and composer.
from the view of the plot. The old Scuro claims that he
loves the operas when he shows the family portrait to the
neighbor passenger on the train. From the tune he chants,
to the phrases he mentions, and to the music he wishes to
hear in the "La Scala", all contain rich information
and symbolic meaning. All these musical details can be found
through the whole story, which makes the film is full of
the attraction of the art.
from the view of the style of the music in this film. And
through studying the core factor of the nature of music:
the composition (especially the composition of this master),
and studying some detailed plots of the conversation and
images aligning with the music, we can understand more the
value the music add to a film and strengthen ourselves this
analyzing the details, let's look into the form of the main
theme in "Stanno tutti bene (Everyone's fine)".
First of all, the composer uses standard classical "rondo
form" (Note 13). Please pay attention to two points.
First, the role occupying the centre of the image is always
that old man. He has the sense of humor, the playful spirit,
he loves his family, treasures the affection, and compassionate
and tolerant even though he has suffered a lot in his life.
So the form of the main theme is designed to match the role
of the old man. Second, to Morricone, the use of this form
means the return. Talking of the "return", we
need to also discuss a little the experience of Ennio Morricone
as a composer.
master graduated from the "Accademia di Santa Cecilia"
in Rome as a prodigy at the age of 14. In the 50s, before
working for the films, he worked for the chamber music and
orchestral music. In the 60s, after he had started writing
the music for the film "The Fascist (in 1961)",
the contracts from the film producers all over the world
poured to him. Hence, in the following decades, he wrote
music for more than four hundred films, which makes his
name a synonym for the film soundtrack. During the period,
he had no time for the classical music then. Still, in the
domain of the film soundtrack, he succeed adding all his
music the "Morricone" features, which is unique
and fully represent the meaning of the images of film, because
he loves his career, innovative, creative and incisive.
The features can be summarized as the broad themes, the
open forms, the pristine but profound melodies and the novel
the form of the soundtrack, seems that Morricone pays the
less attention although he started his career by classical
That's because, on one hand, compared with the new art:
the film, which is like a youth, the music is like a mature
elder person already. On the other hand, Morricone always
makes his music serve for the film, assist to enhence the
subject of the film, the sytle of the image and the psychology
of the roles.
wisps of the melody burst out just like the godsend springs
gushing out, as the name of the beat, "rubato"
suggests, the melody shows a style very freedom. These melodies
are sections rather than forms (Say, the theme music of
"Once Upon a Time in the West"). Let's look into
another example closely, the "Hamlet (1990)" realized
by the famous Italian opera director Franco Zeffirelli (Note
14) in the same year of "Everyone is fine". Despite
that Morricone still uses the traditional orchestra, he
eliminates the Baroque and Classical style, which are very
common in the others films about royal life (Note 15). In
a word, he demonstrates strong willing of innovation and
creation, no matter in defining the form of the music, using
the instruments (the organ) or selecting the timbre (use
mute on the brass) and special way of combining the timbres.
Until in "New paradise cinema" in 1988, the less
routine Sicilian folk, as well as the inserted saxophone
and guitar in the traditional melody composed by the orchestra
and the piano, still demonstrates the maestro's unrestrained
personality and the favor of novel timbres.
returning to classical music in "Everyone's fine"
proves again that he has reach to the pinnacle of the musical
area with his comprehensive attainment and flexible skills.
When the old Scuro shouts out "I won't sit here and
wait", the music begins. The rhythm is smooth and gentle,
reminds the audience the move of the train, so that highlights
the theme of this film: the travel of family (in short,
segment A is played with the mandolin (Note 16), here's
the motive (sample 1):
following form is in the structure A/B A/C/A/D/A, in which,
the segment B is obviously a transition, the segment C appears
in the relationship tune (D Major). So it can be considered
as the ancient "Rondo form" exists in the later
Baroque period (Note 17). Below let's analyze the origin of
the segment A's motive (see above example).
is familiar with the overture of Verdi's opera, he will
soon find that this section is some melody "déjà vu".
Browsing again the title music, you will hear clear figurations
appear in the vice tune of segment D (sample 2):
fact, this short motive maintaining the original form is exactly
the leitmotiv of the primary theme of the overture of the
opera "Destino", and thus the significance of the
name Alvaro shows out. The genius creator combines in a clever
way the musical elements in this typical national art work
and their personal creation (including both the music and
the drama). (Talking of this, I couldn't help adding one more
phrase not very relevant: the films, when are more and more
commercialized in Hollywood, are retained to be cultural grace
to the professions in Italy, the European country where is
full of the traditional art atmosphere).
following example is a prototype of the primary theme of
the overture of the opera "Destino". It is exactly
the first and the second motives in the opera become the
source of the soundtrack of the movie "Everyone's fine"(Sample
go back to observing the form of the "family travel"
theme and will discover that, the cheerful and impatient core
melody of segment A, is a variation of the theme motive of
"Destino"(see sample 1, from the third section of
the Mandolin melody, compare with the sample 2 and 3). And
the tune (D Major) the music applies makes the melody contain
the bright lyricism, aligning with the sunshine in the image
and the spirit of the hero.
notice that, it's not the first time that the musical elements
of the overture of Verdi's "Destino" appear in
the films. In the theme music of the French movie "Jean
de Florette (1986)" and its companion piece "Manon
des Sources (1986)" (Note 18), the secondary theme
of the overture of the opera appear in a relatively complete
way, so that highlight the themes of the two films: the
destiny is everywhere (Sample 4)
let's observe the segment C. This is a section strongly distinct
with segment A in both the form and the emotion. If segment
A is a resolute and active man, then segment C is a tender
woman. The gentle melody resembles the sub-theme of the prelude
in the overture of Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia"
Thus, the material in the national art treasury is elegantly
melted into the creation again. Please compare the segment
C (sample 6)
to now, the first statement of the travel theme is the soundtrack
of the opening scenes such as that the old Scuro piling up
his luggage, or he talking with the people on the railway
station. Until when the train goes out of the station, the
camera liters to the overlook angle so with a subjective view
of a spectator, and the theme moves into D segment. The varied
"Destino" motive concealed in the continuous melody
and the anxious harmony (Sample 1) is the first time clearly
sketched the outline by the Clarinet (together with the Bassoon)(Sample
2). As the upset factor concealed in the joyous travel theme,
it indicates the ups and downs on the journey of both family
visit and the destiny. Then the theme moves into the second
statement after being compressed (A/C/A ...), and the title
appears in the image.
we analyzed the main title of the soundtrack of "Everyone's
fine". In the first half of the film, it is played
briefly twice in the old Scuro's journey, but losing the
vigor gradually. With the hero's doubts growing up, the
travel theme gives rise to the lyrical theme.
analyzing this new factor, a dramatic detail in the movie,
plays a crucial role of showing the hero's psychological
change and giving the logic to the transition of the music.
That is he meets a cold shoulder in front of Alvaro's apartment
and has to wander alone in the street at night. He begins
to sing a song of self-mockery loudly after striking up
a humorous conversation with a street girl. Despite of his
hoarse voice, he sings the tune clearly and accurately.
It's the excerpt from the famous aria "Vesti la giubba")
presented by the hero Canio in the opera" Pagliacci".
The meaning of the original lyric is: Please put on the
costume, and make yourself up! To begging the laugh from
the audience, you have to pander to their taste. In that
sad moment, laugh! The clown! People will applaud you. Cover
the grieves with the smile, hold back the tears to put on
a show - laugh now!", and so as the old Scuro in the
director's intention is so clear: the old Scuro has to cheat
on himself and covers his feeling of loss and desolate by
smiling and self-hocking. His "Family journey"
just begins, so he has to carry on. He sets out to visit
another son Canio - that Canio with white greasepaint on
his face in the family picture. The role in the opera "Pagliacci"
and his arias implies multiple profound significances. Here,
the director shows his own concerns and worries to the society
(the country's politic) by taking use of this typical symbolic
switched. In Rome, Canio, seems like an important person
to the party, is actually an employee of the Parliament,
dedicating preparing the script to the big men. He is giving
a speech at the moment, facing the rows of empty chairs
and a picture presenting the audience.
new lyrical theme appears in two mysterious and allegorical
scenes in the film: the bird suicide and the moose occupy
the road. This is a 3/8 beat comparative melody. Based on
the cautious "Destino" motive with dotted note,
which is played by the woodwind, the lyrical and Meditation-like
melody played by the flute and the oboe are added on. As
it is extended and varied on the "Destino" motive,
it contains the features of Morricone's work as always:
smooth and natural (Sample 7):
the vision of the old Scuro, the indistinct birds are writhing
and moaning in the sky in despair, meanwhile, the lyrical
theme modulated by horn becomes stirring and anxious. Subsequently
in the serious shots of the scene: the moose occupy the road,
the soundtrack also shows the same emotions, the structure
and the layout of the tonality. Please be noted that, here,
the "Destino" motive with dotted note in the scene
of birds suicide disappear, only Strings' uniform steady rhythm,
which is the last trace of the previous vivid travel theme.
The flute repeats the lyrical theme in a flat tune (Sample
7). Based on the somber sound of the bass strings, when the
antlers appear in the scene, the horn accomplishes the modulation
(from the original B minor to F minor, see Sample 8, subsection
4) and states the lyrical theme with some variations, which
expresses again the impatient and anxious, and at the same
time, the positive close-range of the moose by a elevation
angle shooting appear in the backhand lens. The information
which the music conveys now associates people an image that
a dapper, beautiful and noble young creature from a pure world,
facing these self-righteous people in the dirty and indifference
post-industrial society, is protesting, blaming and questioning
... (Sample 8)
to some other films, Tornatore shows more an artist's conscience
in his film "Everyone's fine". The plenty of the
allusive scenes in the film shows that the director's concerns
are multi-angle, all-round. What continues to appear in front
of the old people from Sicily (Note 19), are the mutilated
statue hide in the traffic jam in the modern city, the ground
piled with the cables, the birds suicide by dashing against
the ground collectively, the asleep passengers who are indifferent
to what's happening outside the car ... and eventually, a
brave buck who appears suddenly and blocks the traffic.
above analysis, we can get a conclusion that the composer
Morricone is unparalleled not only because he can assist
the director to express the emotions precisely, rather because
the effect of the combination of his music and the film
images beyond and extend the meaning of the film. The greatness
of Sergio Leone's masterpiece "Once Upon a Time in
the West" depends fairly on that his partner of composing
is a prophet, since the music of his two "past"
(Note 20) came out actually earlier than the movies, so
that the themes of the two movies "past" can be
remembered forever just like a bright star overlooks forever
the ordinary world. So as "Everyone's fine". Let's
look back the soundtracks for the two scenes: birds suicide
and the mouse occupy the road. In the image the birds writhing
and moaning and the image the mouse looking at people quietly,
although there are only two complete phrases in the part
of the horn (Scores 8, 4 - 13 section), that is, the lens
lasts only 20 to 25 seconds after the F minor is brought
out, it's crucial for expressing the emotion. Supposing
the tone is not modulated to somewhat somber (at least contrast
is enhanced), or if the tiny but important change are not
added to these two phrases (the syncopations in the section
5,6 & the section 10,11), how can we feel the worries
of the director to the social problems such as the pollution
to the ecological environment?
the old Scuro encounters a tour of the elders, and hits
it off with a grace and dignified old lady (Note 21) sitting
next to him. Two elderly dance with the tender Waltz music.
Scuro is greatly shocked when hearing the old woman speaks
of the cold shoulder she got from her sons and daughters
in a calm tone. The cheerful Polka is suddenly inserted
in the cold and gloomy "Destino" motive, expressing
that Scuro is aware of the ruthless of the reality at that
moment. Subsequently the touching scene of the farewell
between the two is also one of the scense that the director
placed his emotion. Morricone's music here, also like the
"eye" of the dragon.
by all the elderly friends in the car quietly and expectedly,
Scuro kissed fondly the hand of the old woman and say: "What
a cold little hand!" He expresses his attachment to this
new intimate friend implicitly. In fact, this phrase ("Che
gelida manina!") comes from Puccini's another masterpiece,
"La Boheme", of which it's the first phrase of a
famous Tenor aria. The flok art beloved by the director and
his role Scuro- the opera, flashes again in the plot. And
the subsequent the old woman answered, "You are so distinguished
that I will never forget you!" is the tribute from the
director to the actor of Scuro, Marcello Mastroianni (Note
22) rather than the tribute from the old women to the charming
hero of the movie. No doubts, the altitude the movie reaches
is also grace to the performance skills of the master.
- Scuro walks away, giving a chic wave without turning back.
He knows that all on the car are watching him, and also silently
waved goodbye. This is the most romantic scene in the movie.
The alone back, the shape of chivalry and the glamorous image:
in moment he departs, a new figure is born (Sample 9):
is the second lyrical theme in the movie soundtrack, interwoven
with the stretch melody by flute solo and the melody in the
style of the Waltz by Accordion. This theme appearing after
the ball, is same as the other themes, that is, the "Destino"
motive, which can be found everywhere in this movie. On the
other hand, the "Destino" motive attaches stubbornly
to the bottom of the two free and easy, transcendent melody
lines (Sample 9, section 7-8), hints the direction of the
emotional tune and the logic of the music in the second half
of the movie.
dominant musical factor in the second half of the movie, in
addition to the second lyrical theme we've just analyzed,
the opera still exists, and is even used this time most prominently
in the whole movie. That is when Scuro arrives in Milan to
visit Julia Elmore (William), the son who works as a percussionist
in a Symphony, and finally comes the sacred "La Scala
opera house". In the magnificent, awe-inspiring theater
hall, there is a band in the orchestra pit, and sits Julia
Elmore in his youth... The bandmaster (played by Morricone
in person, which was the first time) plays alone the third
interlude of "La Traviata" at the request of Scuro.
from this scene (or let's say in his imagination), until when
he is in a quickly landed elevator and in the noisy telephone
office, and in the scene that he calls Alvaro again. This
time, the director and the composer implies directly the Verdi's
works. As the interlude, the original work lasts about four
minutes, is played in this film for nearly three minutes and
is modulated to the part of Morricone only when the scene
is swifted to William following his father's car secretly.
Obviously, the melody expressing the tragic and desperate
of Violetta in "La Traviata," expresses lingers
in Scuro's head when he leaves the Opera House and expresses
exactly his own emotion.
Sunshine and joy, in return to the hometown Sicily and when
the "Family Tour" is coming to an end, are no
longer exists. Only the bleak wind and the solitude whistle
accompany the train that travels under the haze of the sky.
Then two figures bearing the weights come and recall the
"chic wave" theme. As the vice melody, the "Destino"
motive following the smooth flow under the main theme, contains
no longer the meaning of the warning and aggressive, instead,
makes people feel the introspective, philosophical and calm
learned from the loss of the life.
movie begins with the scene that the old Scuro faces to
the empty chair of his wife, chattering on their children
in "Q&A" and ends up with the scene that he
faces his wife again, to telling the recent status of their
children. The movie tails echo of the entire film, totally
natural. Until his wife "askes" children, Scuro
"answers" with a childish but serious demeanor:
"the children, they are fine! ......" Then the
camera turns, and we, the audience, find that we were exactly
in the place of the tomb and played the role of the interlocutor
unconsciously, and this really shed a tear of us. Here comes
the climax of the movie.
music remains calm and objective. Scuro leaned over and
kiss fondly the picture of his wife and says the last sentence
of the film: "Stanno tutti bene (Everyone's fine)"
- The lens recedes and rises, giving a panoramic view of
the cemetery: Old Scuro is alone, and bows his head in front
of the tomb.
baby holds a roll of notes in his small hand and shaking slightly.
In the image expressing the unlimited affection and wishes
to the next generation, "the end" rises. The theme
of the movie is highlighted again (Sample 1) ...
film "Everyone's fine" is a rare and insurmountable
movie in the world.
This is art. This is the culture. This is the movie.
And, this is not Hollywood.
writer Dalin Yang 1997-10-21 in Beijing)
Note1：Stanno Tutti Bene, English Translation is Everybody's
Note 2：Sergio Leone （1921-1989）：Italian famous director. His
major works include "the Bounty trilogy" and "past
Note 3：See note2.
Note 4：See "The world Film Appreciation Dictionary"
( Continuation) P721. China Fujian Education Press, 1993 edition
Note 5：Giuseppe Verdi（1813-1901），Italian composer.
Note 6：Ruggiero Leoncavallo（1857-1919）, Italian composer.
Note 7: Italian surnames"Gugllielmo" . In English
equivalent with "William", In German equivalent
with "Wilhelm"，In Chinese is "Weilian".
Note 8：Gioachino Antonio Rossini（1792-1868）, Italian composer.
Note 9：Giacomo Puccini（1858-1924）, Italian composer.
Note 10：Vincenzo Bellini（1801-1835）, Italian composer.
Note 11：Italy 's most famous opera house, is located in Milan.
Named by way of the name of the queen La Scala who is a granduca's
wife, was built in 1778.
Note 12：Domestic academic concept，hereby means the tunes was
directly sung by the figure in the still or the melody was
directly played by the band in the still
Note 13：Rondo，Usually refers to instrumental music to reproduce
intermittent in the a piece of music.
Note 14：Franco Zeffirelli（1923-），Italian famous directorfor
opera movie. Masterpiece "La Boheme"-1965, "La
Traviata"-1982, "Othello"-1986, and "Jane
Eyre" in 1996
Note 15：Compare 1988 Stephen Frears' film "Dangerous
Liaisons" and 1994 Nicholas Hytner's " The madness
of King George ", composer: George Fenton.
Note 16：Mandolin(e), Plucked string instrument that originated
in Italy. Usually has eight strings, dual tuning, played with
Note 17：Baroque, French original intent was "weird".
Originally referred to the 17th and 18th century German and
Austrian ornate architectural style, Afterward in order to
described a musical style developed around 1750 from 1600
during the Bach ( 1685-1750 ) and Handel ( 1685-1759 ) died
Note 18：Director: Claude Berri；Composer: Jean - Claude Petit
Note 19：The story takes place of " Cinema Paradiso "
and starting place of "Everybody's Fine" are Sicily.
Here is also the director Giuseppe Tornatore's hometown.
Note 20：Here refers to Sergio Leone's two major masterpieces
- "Once Upon a Time in the West" and "Once
Upon a Time in America".
Note 21：The actor is famous Italian actress Michèle Morgan
who born in 1920
Note 22：Marcello Mastroianni（1923-1996），Italian famous actor，starred
in Fellini's masterpiece "La Dolce Vita", "Eight
and a half." And Antonioni and other Italian important