Fancy a trip through hell scored by the master of Spaghetti Western soundtracks? Then look no further than the six-minute animation The Greatness from Yi Zhou, with music composed by the legendary and prolific Ennio Morricone. It takes its inspiration from Dante’s The Divine Comedy and the journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. It’s set in motion by an exploding vase shaped like Pharrell Williams’ head.
Then we’re off through abstract and surreal imagery and piercing sounds, traveling across different landscapes and visual styles, past suspended human forms into fiery lands and beyond. While Zhou lets her ever-changing imagery fly past our eyes, Morricone’s music haunts and drives the experience with strings and demonic murmurings, possibly terrifying you, particularly if you’re in a delicate, heightened state of mind.
The piece appropriates visuals from Zhou’s earlier work, like Pharrell Williams and an ear-bridge from The Ear, while placing music front and center in the narrative. Morricone dug up sounds from his archives for the soundtrack so he could explore the “emotional vibrations of sound under various states of fear, pleasure, exaltation, and mystery”—evoking his orchestral score for Dario Argento‘s Animal Trilogy: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat o’ Nine Tails, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet.