Review: ‘Score: A Film Music Documentary’ explores composers’ art

Composer Hans Zimmer at work in the film "Score: A Film Music Documentary."
(Gravitas Ventures)

Although it won’t win any prizes for narrative structure, Matt Schrader’s “Score: A Film Music Documentary” spotlights such a rich and fascinating topic — the craft of motion picture scoring — that its mere presence proves a feast for the eyes and ears.

The film also offers one key aspect so often missing from documentaries about creative endeavors: a vivid portrayal of process. However random the movie can sometimes feel, Schrader has amassed an articulate array of musicians and filmmakers — speaking for themselves or on behalf of others — whose candor and enthusiasm intimately expose the nuts and bolts of their chosen field.

After a brief chronology of music’s evolving role in movies, the film is largely devoted to feting some of Hollywood’s most influential composers: Bernard Herrmann (“Psycho”), John Williams (“E.T.,” “Star Wars”), Danny Elfman (“Batman,” “Edward Scissorhands”), Hans Zimmer (“Gladiator,” “The Dark Knight”), John Barry (the James Bond franchise) and many others. The list is long on talent but short on diversity, which may say more about the business than Schrader’s choices.

The illustrative film clips here are evocative and rousing. We’re also taken behind the scenes of several film scoring sessions, with an involving emphasis on the orchestral.


Anyone looking for a definitive survey may want more, but this enjoyable film will undoubtedly score with musicians and cinephiles alike.


‘Score: A Film Music Documentary’

Not rated.

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: ArcLight Sherman Oaks

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