Sound of Cinema: The Music That Made the Movies (UK miniseries 2016)

3 out of 5

Hosted by: Neil Brand

The other two Brand-hosted documentaries I’ve checked out – Sound of Song and The Story of Indie – did a good job at covering a wide swath of info within a few episodes, giving you a good sense of the milestones that were important to each topic while _mostly_ remaining mindful of the fact that there’s a ton of stuff they’ll never be able to even get to mentioning. The punk doc got a little sloppy as it moved to the modern age, but because the series was more intent on explaining the history, it wasn’t such a horrible gaffe, as the scene eventually became so sprawling that trying to identify what to cover would be a crapshoot anyway. With the Sound of cinema – which seems like it was actually the chronologically first special hosted by Brand but which I only watched recently – the narrowed focus that crept into the end of indie is more of a driving force which, despite the wealth of interesting info offered, makes the show less satisfying overall.  Part of this may owe to Brand being a score composer himself, which he actually mentions during the series, before trashing the use of a particular synthesizer as a tool which allows too much fakery and gimicry into the field. Not that his comments are unwarranted, but it adds a particular flavor to the proceedings: that it’s only about what Neil wants to talk about.

Which, at the start – reviewing the origin of film soundtracks in orchestral accompaniment – is incredibly fascinating. But thereafter we really only start to hit the heavyweights – Hans Zimmer, Vangelis, etc. – and even though these highlights are effectively use to discuss the shift to electronics, or more ambient scores, it still comes across as a much more tunnel vision version of things.

Brand is nonetheless engaging, and despite my criticism, the music explored and eople interviewed are definitely worth the viewing time. But I would have sacrificed some of that focus for a more wide-eyed study of the film world in general.