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Movie Music Magic Casts a Spell in SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY (Review)

Try to imagine your favorite film without its score. Not just undisputed classics like Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho or John Williams’ Jaws, but pretty much any movie you enjoy, be it large, small, foreign, domestic, silly, scary, or serious. A film’s score is like the human spine. If it’s not aligned correctly, the rest of the body suffers, often in constant and painful fashion. There are of course countless books, websites, and DVD featurettes that cover the essential nature of a movie’s music but score junkies have been lacking that one definitive documentary on the subject.

We can now rest just a little easier, because Matt Schrader’s Score: A Film Music Documentary is not only a feature-length documentary about the history, importance, and impact of film scores; it’s also the best-case scenario documentary about the history, importance, and impact of film scores. This is a film that’s clearly made by someone who loves their chosen subject matter, but is also smart enough to all but disappear and simply allow the musicians and filmmakers to share their stories. And that’s all you can really ask from a documentarian, whether they’re covering politics, history, important social issues, or good old movie music.

The film is refreshingly straightforward: 93 minutes with a stunning array of celebrated film composers and filmmakers as they offer everything from the history of music in cinema to their own personal composing styles, and all sorts of wonderfully fascinating anecdotes in between. Mr. Schrader utilizes film clips and archival material in fascinating fashion, but Score: A Film Music Documentary is at its very best when it plants a camera in front of great composers and lets them simply expound on the nature of their art.


Composers discussed and/or interviewed include Hans Zimmer, Randy Newman, Quincy Jones, Danny Elfman, Reznor & Ross, Christopher Young, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and at least 60 more. We also get some key insights from non-composers like James Cameron, Leonard Maltin, Steven Spielberg, and the late Garry Marshall, but the bulk of Score is dedicated exclusively to the music-makers.┬áSchrader and co-editor Kenny Holmes deserve a lot of praise for not only sifting through hours of interview material, but also for giving each composer a comparatively different theme. (In other words, it’s not a bunch of professionally similar people all saying the same things.) Aspiring composers should consider this film an absolute treasure trove of not only practical advice but also of straightforward no-bullshit wisdom.

For plain old movie geeks, however, Score: A Film Music Documentary is nothing short of an absolute delight. You’ll get all sorts of fascinating insights on the composer’s creative processes but you’ll also appreciate the film’s staunch and sincere affection for movie music. Not just the most famous tracks from the most celebrated musicians, but movie music in general, how it’s created, and how our beloved cinematic artform wouldn’t be half as special without it.

4.5 Melodious Burritos out of 5


Images: Gravitas Ventures

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