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Soundtrack review: Regarding Susan Sontag (Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbam – 2014)

Documentary Film scores

Soundtrack review: Regarding Susan Sontag (Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbam – 2014)


“Regarding Susan Sontag” is an HBO documentary about one of the most influential and provocative female thinkers of the 20th century. The score was composed by two classically trained musicians Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbam. Worth mentioning is that they have used a modified string quartet, a saxophone quartet and other instruments, setting the premises for an interesting piece of work.

The key word for this score is “experimental”. It is a musical experiment which I’m sure can be enjoyed in the right mood. Fans of jazz will appreciate this one a great deal. The music is vibrant and joyful for the jazzy parts which were written for the parts of the movie focusing on Susan Sontag’s ideas. These cues are sensual and energetic. I am not a fan of jazz and I usually don’t connect well with jazzy scores, but I can hear the merits in this one. I especially liked the sound of “Paris”.

When the score is not jazzy it focuses on the times of distress and pain, both internal (the fight with her illness) and external (the pain or war). The music for these moments is even more experimental and maybe less melodic then the rest of the score.

I had trouble finding a cue I really loved because even inside cues there’s this duality that makes them sound uneven at times. There are parts I love and parts I don’t like that much in almost every cue. But as an overall listening experience this was not for me. I am sure many of you will enjoy it though.

Cue rating: 62 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 4 / 60

Album excellence: 6%



Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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