Saturday movie review: SCORE: A Film Music Documentary

My CD collection and iTunes application boast many a movie soundtrack. My husband and I have long loved cinematic scores of all sorts.

Which is why SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY was a must-see for us both from the very moment I saw it listed on the schedule for the 39th Denver Film Festival, which I have the privilege of covering this year.

SCORE, directed by Matt Schrader, is a joyous examination of the work and dedication of those who masterfully match music to movies. Composers, film historians, and musicians (and moviemakers) of myriad sorts break down the extensive process of completing a score from the first note to the last. Many reveal their own process; all marvel over masterpieces created by the likes of John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Trent Reznor and many, many more.

SCORE goes beyond being a goose bump inducing love song to movie music. The film also provides the extensive and intriguing history of film scores, beginning with the days of silent films accompanied live by Wurlitzers on through the decades to the amazing options now available via digital audio artistry.

From beginning to end of the film, every person interviewed and profiled oozes an intense love for music and its ability to lift movies to levels they could never reach without the power of the score, whether simple notes on a single instrument or complicated compositions furiously played out by full orchestras.


SCORE reveals the methods of the maestros, but also their (surprising) insecurities and struggles when faced with deadlines and directors. It also provides surprising little nuggets of trivia. Things like Hans Zimmer's hilarious cameo in MTV's first video and Danny Elfman's gig with Oingo Boingo. Who'da thunk it?

The documentary also details the motifs or themes of scores that can be heard throughout a film, repetitions that knit the piece — and film — together in a nearly imperceptible manner to the average viewer. (Something I will now forever notice/hear/appreciate going forward, though, when watching a film.)

One of the more astonishing things I learned from SCORE was the sheer number of people it takes to put together a piece many movie watchers may not even notice. Or any piece attached to a film, noticed or not. Composers, musicians, directors, editors, engineers. My, oh, my! So many people working together in (eventual) perfect harmony just amazes me.

And so many people keeping orchestral music alive for the masses astounds me. Impresses me. And makes me smile to think that even my grandsons and other youngsters are exposed regularly to the magic of orchestral music via none other than Minions and SpongeBob movies, to name just a few.

One note missed in the film, my husband and I mentioned as the credits rolled, was accolades for James Horner and his moving, memorable TITANIC score. We spoke too soon. Mere seconds after our exchange on such, a clip of director James Cameron began, a poignant piece in tribute to now-deceased Horner as the credits continued to roll. Don't leave the film (or turn it off) without watching the ode.

My words fail miserably in expressing how endearing SCORE and the scores of amazing musical craftsmen and women featured in the film are. All I can say is it truly is a must see. Particularly for any movie goer who has tensed up when ominous notes played, swooned when sweetness soared through the sound, wept at orchestral acrobatics at exactly the right moment, experienced goose bumps when listening to a soundtrack.

SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY (NR) premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October and is currently showing only at film festivals. Find out more on the film's official website.



I viewed this film as a media representative for the 39th Denver Film Festival; opinions are my own. For more information on this film and the more than 250 others showing at DFF39 — including details on the entire schedule and ticket information — visit