documentary Film scores

Soundtrack review: The last man on the moon (Lorne Balfe – 2015)

moon

“The last man on the moon” is a biographical confession of Eugene Cernan, the last man to (officially) walk on the moon. This movie is based on his own script and tells the story of how this event changed his and his family’s life forever. It’s a documentary filled with rare archival footage and spectacular visual effects. It sounds like an interesting story. I always wondered why people stopped going to the moon. The score was written by Lorne Balfe who owns 2015 so far. This is his fourth release already in two months and he might be going for the record. I’ve enjoyed his 2015 output so far especially the other biographical project about Marco Pantani, the cyclist.

This story makes me think of dreams, space and a lot of reflection. It is also a very personal story so I expect the music to be anything but generic. “Space race” has some Russian heaviness in the sound. That’s how I perceive it, that’s what I heard. It’s reflective but thick. The electric guitar works and adds drifting objects to this space… the riffs come like echoes and I feel just like I was floating through space running into objects every now and then. They don’t stop; we just pass by each other in opposite directions.

Once we are in space the composer steers us farther away from Earth. “Pure silence” is ambient with a twist. There’s never just silence, there’s never just a reflective mood. Lorne does a great job of suggesting permanent movement with his music. There are echoes, the sounds ascend in volume and intensity and there’s always something constant in the background so I feel like I am travelling.

The music depicting space is clearly delimited from the cues about the man himself. “The future” and “Dreading the moment” are alert and fresh and represent the other side of this score. I like them but I am always more drawn to atmospheric pieces like “Project Gemini” or “Selenocentric”. I’ve always been attracted to ambient music and whenever cues like these come along I just close my eyes, enjoy the ride and dream. There’s a flurry of images in my mind when I hear this music and I feel relaxed and at peace.

“Taurus-Littrow” takes the music even deeper. It’s as if the score has been on the edge of the water, contemplating the thought of jumping and with this cue, it took the plunge. The music is wide, rich and I love it. This is the kind of cue that will always remain imprinted in my memory. It’s worth the rare and precious 6 star rating and it’s on my list of best cues of 2015 and I will look for it at the end of the year.

“The last man on the moon” was tailor made for me. There are some scores that just click for me from start to finish. This is the sound that almost never fails. With the ambient parts and the emotions in “Gassendi” and “Sitting on God’s front porch” it just echoes back to my favorite dreamy intense scores. I remember “Sunshine” by John Murphy or “Gravity” by Stephen Price and they welcome Lorne Balfe’s score in that special place inside me to which I always return when I need to quiet down the outside world and raise the volume of my deepest thoughts.

Lorne Balfe’s poignant composition had all the vastness and heaviness of the story. This is about space, going to the moon, man’s greatest achievement and the music tells me all that. I feel the weight of this man’s achievement and the aftermath and I get how unforgettable everything is. Lorne, please keep it going. Can I please get half an hour long nuggets like this form you monthly? Thank you!

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 27

Album excellence: 83%

Highlights:

Space Race

Pure Silence

Project Gemini

Selenocentric

Taurus-Littrow

Alphonsus

Gassendi

Apollo 17

Sitting On God’s Front Porch

About the author

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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