12 April 2018

DOGWOOF PRESENTS 'SCORE.' (2016) A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




SCORE. (2017) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MATT SCHRADER. FEATURING HANS ZIMMER, DANNY ELFMAN, JOHN WILLIAMS, QUINCY JONES, RACHEL PORTMAN, TRENT REZNOR AND OTHERS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'The score is the heart and soul of the film.'

'As a film composer, you're part of the story-telling team.'

'If I make a track, it has to give me goosebumps.'

'We're doing something here. We're harnessing the ether.'

'Film music is one of the greatest art forms of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.'

'Music plays an important part in how you react to a film.'

'Technology has made it possible for every composer to be a producer now.'

'Film deadlines can be terrifying.'

'If film music ever died out, it'd be a huge loss to humanity.'

I loved this documentary to bits. I'd love anything that reminded me of my favourite films, and this ninety-minute movie covered a surprising number of the films that would be in most peoples' Top Ten or Twenty of favourite flicks of all time. And their music scores as well of course, which is kind of the point of the whole thing.

The music score of a film can be the reason, or at least part of it, that you love a certain film. I have my own little story to tell on that point. Early in 2002, I was a total wreck. I'd just broken up with someone important and I needed somewhere to hide out from the world. Once a week I'd escape to the cinema.

For six or seven Thursdays in a row- this was back in the days when a film stayed in the cinema for longer than five minutes!- I watched Tom Cruise make love to both Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz (the lucky dog!) in VANILLA SKY. Apart from the plot, which confused me but which I enjoyed nonetheless, I couldn't initially work out what kept drawing me back to this same film.

When I eventually worked out that it was the music to which I was attracted, I ran out and bought the soundtrack. On a CD, like a normal person, lol. None of your downloading, or whatever you modern kids call it. 

I listened to that album, featuring tracks from REM, Jeff Buckley, the Chemical Brothers and Afrika Bambaata, until it was scratchy and jumpy. Those two are cousins of Itchy and Scratchy from THE SIMPSONS, by the way. The point is that I drew comfort from the music. It totally spoke to me.

In SCORE, we see interviews with loads of film composers, directors, orchestrators, film music agents and film music historians, who all have plenty to say on the subject of the film music score.

Tons of movie composers get a mention but I'm pretty sure that all your favourite composers will be in there somewhere. Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, Hans Zimmer, right up to the guy who did the music for FROZEN. Right up to modern times, in other words.

Apparently KING KONG (1933) was a landmark production in the history of film music. It was 'the first film to demonstrate the power of a score to affect the film.' The addition of the fabulous music we all know and love changed the most famous monster movie of all time from being merely 'kitsch and stupid' to 'genuinely frightening.'

In SCORE, everyone who's interviewed agrees on one thing. The music that goes with a film must elicit a powerful emotional response from the audience if it's to be successful. It has to give you 'goosebumps,' the same kind of pleasurable response you'd get from eating sex or having chocolate. Wait a minute, scratch that and reverse. You guys know what I mean, don't you...?

One man who's quite used to bringing his listeners out in goosebumps is legendary film composer John Williams, who features heavily in this documentary. He's done the music to some of our favourite films. Just take a peek at the list.

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. THE TOWERING INFERNO. JAWS!!! (The exclamation marks are my own, lol.) Various STAR WARS films. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. JAWS 2!!! SUPERMAN. The INDIANA JONES films. ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL. HOME ALONE. JURASSIC PARK. SCHINDLER'S LIST. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The HARRY POTTER FILMS. And many more, too numerous to mention.

My God, that's an impressive back catalogue, the kind that most of us normals could only ever aspire to. SUPERMAN star Christopher Reeve said this about the famous composer at an awards ceremony: 'Without the music of John Williams, Superman's powers are greatly diminished.' That got a laugh...!

When you see John Williams's name in the credits of a film, you know you're gonna be hearing something worth hearing, something special. And in SCORE, we see John Williams working out the theme tune for ET on the piano, watched by a ridiculously young and smiling Steven Spielberg. If that's not special, I don't know what is.

And as for my personal favourite of all of Mr. Williams's marvellous film scores, the one he wrote for a little-seen Steven Spielberg movie about a big fishy (what was it called again, JAWS or something...???), someone in the film says the following about it: 'What an amazing orchestral piece of music! It's not just those two notes...!' Da-dum, da-dum, dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum... You know how it goes, lol. Everyone in the whole wide world knows how that one goes.

The work of Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) is referenced here too. The amazing Mister Herrmann is best known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote the scores to PSYCHO, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. He did the music for CITIZEN KANE too, amongst many others.

When you hear the score for VERTIGO, you know that 'something is not right here. There's a mystery here.' How right that is. How much 'wronger,' then, if that's even a word, must things be in PSYCHO, with those discordant-sounding, screechy strings? This is my favourite of all the Alfred Hitchcock film scores. As soon as you hear these spine-tingling, nerve-jangling notes striking up, you know what's coming, and it ain't pretty...

Danny Elfman, who'll always be most famous for composing the theme tune to THE SIMPSONS (yes he will...!), says of Bernard Herrmann: 'I learned from Bernard Herrmann the golden rule: that there ARE no rules.' One genius learning from another. I like it.

What would a spaghetti Western be without the music of Ennio Morricone? Whom might you expect to find in a mixing room? What exactly is a 'spotting' session? What's a 'motif?' Which big softy said that 'hearing your music being played (by an orchestra)- the joy, the emotion of it- is a bit like seeing your child for the first time?'

Who said the following: 'When I play a piece of music, I totally expose myself?' Officer, kindly arrest that man, lol. Which film music composer (and self-confessed weirdo!) follows cinema-goers into the bathroom after the movie to see if they're singing or whistling the film's theme tune? Ah, leave the guy alone, snigger. He's only trying to ascertain if his music's been a success.

Anyway, the answers to these questions and many more can be found in SCORE. Film lovers everywhere will get a real kick out of this documentary. It's like playing spot-the-blockbuster or
something and it's great fun altogether. Enjoy it. And don't let anyone stop you from humming along to the various theme tunes you'll hear. It's a basic human right, that is...!

SCORE is available to buy now from DOGWOOF. It comes complete with a 'score' (see what I did there?!) of terrific extra features.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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