documentary Film scores

Soundtrack review: Jerusalem (Michael Brooke – 2015)

jerusalem_1400

“Jerusalem” is a stunning cinematic look at one of the most famous, talked about and controversial places in the world. This is a place sacred to three of the major religions and the movie helps us discover it through the stories of Jewish, Christian and Muslim families who live there. From what I read it’s the first time filmmakers have gained a deep access to many holy sites from the city. This sounds like an interesting and intriguing film. The score was written by Michael Brook and this is one of the names that are etched in my memories. There are a few composers who have gained cult status for me because of some score or another, and Michael Brook did so by scoring “Affliction”. That movie had a deep effect on me and the music was an integral part. He also wrote a cue for the “Heat” score which is another of my favorites.

With a subject so clear and with a lot of people having strong opinions about it it’s not easy to come up with a score that can encompass all this. From the first two cues “The place of Shalem” and “Center of the world” I understand that the composer (probably the filmmakers as well) didn’t want to do something extremely emotional and heavy. Michael Brook didn’t write a score loaded with emotion that would influence listeners. He wrote and elegant and beautiful score to support and complete the visual message of the movie.

When emotions do come they are quiet and neutral. I like the sound of “Aliyah” because it makes me feel something without trying to impose feelings from me. I’ve always thought that documentary scores weren’t the easiest to write because they must always serve the topic and never steal focus from it. A talented composer like Michael Brook knows how to tackle this and I can enjoy a track like “Center of the world part 2” for what it is, a beautiful and gentle piece of music. There’s nothing else. No characters to relate to, no special scene to connect the music to. It’s just beautiful music.

“Puzzle pieces” winks at me with its atmospheric and almost ethnic sound. The softest of strings are touched and I can slowly start building my own images based on it. This is my kind of cue, ambient and intense, a gorgeous and silent summer sunset. “The foundation stone” continues with the atmospheric goodness I knew this composer was capable of and I enjoy the direction this score is taking.

I hear “The western wall” and I can imagine the stunning visual images that might come with it. This is what the music tells me. It’s intentionally slowed down as if to allow the listener to capture every side of it, every spark of beauty. This place isn’t going anywhere so we can take our time to admire it. The music distances itself a bit from me and gives me space to see the big picture. I am mesmerized by the wonders I see. This is a clever way to write a score. The focus isn’t on emotions or dramatic content but on beauty.

“In the footsteps of Jesus” is surprisingly intimate and melodic. It’s almost weightless and it allows the music to just fly freely without a care in the world. At the end, as is the sudden shadow of a thought or a realization came over, the mood suddenly changes…”The dome of the rock” makes me dream once again and this is the moment when I know I will return to this score on some summer afternoon when I’m in a certain mood…

I really enjoyed “Jerusalem”. It was gentle and pleasant and the kind of score that leaves a sweet lingering memory, just like a summer vacation day you want to keep a mental book mark of.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 33

Album excellence: 34%

Highlights:

Aliyah

Puzzle Pieces

The Foundation Stone

Aliyah Part 2

The Western Wall

The Second Temple

The Dome Of The Rock

Center Of The World Alt (Bonus Track)

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).

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment