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FILM: Score: A Film Music Documentary

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I really enjoyed SCORE A Film Music Documentary.  As you would expect, this is basically a documentary about two things, the history of film scores and the experiences of noteworthy composers who score film music.  The two topics are balanced nicely.  So you get quite a bit of commentary from a composer about their influences along with their process.  As most already know, John Williams, who occupies a significant portion of the documentary does not provide any new input which would have been great but is not surprising given his age, schedule, personality, and stature.  I particularly enjoyed hearing about the various composers creative processes.  For example Heitor Pereira coming up with a grove first then once he has that locked, adding a melody on top.  Contrastingly, Marco Beltrami looks for the exotic textures first.  Sometimes in unexpected places such as an abandoned instrument.   Jon Burlingame added much insight to the history and contribution of film music and I liked having directors weigh in.  They might have only used James Cameron as a director, it would have been nice to add a few more and maybe even some archival footage of Hitchcock or something talking about music in his films.


The film is made by film music fans so is pretty much a love letter to film music.  There is no mention of controversy or anything negative which is fine but some might find this as off putting and an example of a love letter to one's self.  They also skimp over some topics and give way too much time to others (no doubt a result of which composer and studio was willing to partake).  For example, Christopher Young, a very solid composer only talks about other composers rather than his music or process.  Meanwhile Heitor Pereira is given way too much time and recording sessions that don't amount to much interesting details.  This might just be my opinion because I know some of these people quite well where perhaps someone outside the industry who this documentary is targeted at might find this all new. 


Some disappointments, I would have liked to have seen interviews with Elliot Goldenthal (the credits list him but I don't recall hearing it so perhaps I was getting a beer during his brief appearance?), Alan Silvestri, and archival discussion footage from Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner.  Perhaps the film makers didn't get the rights to this footage but I assume an effort was made.  It would have been fantastic to get something new from John Williams but that is nearly an impossible herculean task.  Why no Giacchino?  If they spent so much time with Debney, I consider Giacchino in the same league.  I also think they should have spent some time on up and coming/future trending composers.  Why not bring in Wintory for a few quotes which would have most likely been adulation towards Goldsmith or Herrmann but added to the documentary's relevance?  I was hoping they would do something like that. I would have liked to have seen some discussion of the film scoring controversies as well (ghosting/plagiarism).  They certainly didn't need to dwell on it, but a very brief mention would have been nice.  So make this more accurate and historical rather than a love letter to the industry.  The film makers also missed an opportunity to demonstrate spotting fails.  How good music might not work for a scene is a failure.  Or how the same scene scored with two different ways could still work but will change the feel of the scene.  How about a mention of great scores of terrible films?  Or score rejects like Alex North's 2001 effort?  The word temp score didn't come up once.   The film makers paint a very rosy picture of the film scoring process.  There were some great scores rejected.  They do mention in passing that Jerry Goldsmith had 10 days to score Chinatown because the other score was rejected though.


I found the epilogue of a personal memory from James Cameron regarding James Horner touching but insufficient.  They really should have had more time on Horner. 


Overall, a very good documentary with a few shortcomings but highly recommended to fans of films or film music.  I know the filmmakers made a book of their research that might be worth exploring if it includes some of the items I wished were included in the film.

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This documentary will be broadcast on Dutch national television tomorrow evening.

I agree with your review.  I watched it a few nights ago.  Entertaining and interesting mostly, but it could have been so much more.  Of course, if I had control of millions and millions of dollars I'd finance a multi-part documentary series on the history and craft of film scoring.  Netflix seems to throw money at anything, maybe they'll do it!

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One thing I just realized, this film seems to have been sponsored by Richard Kraft given his roster is so highly featured in the documentary.  This includes Marco Beltrami, John Debney, Desplat, Danny Elfman, Bear McCreary, Moby, Heitor Pereira, John Powell, Joe Trapanese, etc.  Ahh, I see, Kraft was a producer so that is partially why it feels like an add for his roster.

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