Legno Orientale

February 26, 2007 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

I didn’t watch much of the Oscars last night. I only just turned them on briefly as I was going to bed. I did turn it on in time to see something of a surreal moment that Oscar provides every so often. More often than not this is usually the result of the participants having engaged in a little too much pre-show revelry, and I think that may have played something of a role this time as well.

Clint Eastwood comes to the podium to present a lifetime achievement award to Ennio Morricone, the composer behind the instantly recognizable and eternally pervasive music to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly among other Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. Now normally this moment in the show is one surrounded by dignity and solemnity as the academy honors someone who has contributed huge amounts of work to the industry over their lifetime. However, dear old Clint apparently forgot his glasses and thus couldn’t read the teleprompter. This led to an oddly rambling speech that clearly was along the lines of what had been scripted and yet wasn’t quite there. The train wreck was complete as Clint tried to remember the line to cue the film, and peering into the teleprompter took several stabs at what was written there before the director had mercy on him and cued the tape.

This in itself wouldn’t have been particularly remarkable. What really surprised me was what came afterward. Ennio gets up to accept the award, and after saying “Thank You” in English, he launches into a monologue in Italian. While Italian is a beautiful language to listen to I have a feeling that most were in my shoes, completely at sea as to what he was saying. I was a bit surprised that the Academy hadn’t anticipated that an Italian might actually speak Italian and have a translator available. However, after Ennio had spoken at some length with Clint looking on happily, someone in the audience shouted out something that I presume was “What’s he saying?”

Clint leans forward and says, “Yes, I’ll tell you what he’s saying” and promptly summarizes what Ennio had just said. Ennio had spoken at some length, and Clint’s summary seemed a bit short, so I at first thought that he was either making it up or that someone was either writing it up or telling him through an earpiece. But as he continued it became clear that Clint was, sure enough, translating from the Italian.

After my initial shock wore off, I thought “well, duh. Of course he speaks Italian. He made how many films with Sergio Leone?” But that was years ago, and here he is now just translating his heart out. While drunk no less. I tell you, this guy’s amazing.

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Entry filed under: Movies.

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