documentary

Soundtrack review: Challenger disaster – The lost tapes (Jasha Klebe – 2016)

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“Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes” follows the story of the Space Shuttle Challenger and its crew, specifically Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian to be launched into space. The events of the days leading up to the disaster are detailed in this unique film, which uses no narration and no interviews. Instead the story is told solely with reports of journalists covering the story, extensive recordings from the NASA team, and interviews with McAuliffe and others who were part of this one-of-a-kind mission. Using rarely seen images and audio recordings, this show takes viewers behind the scenes of this compelling and historic story in a way never before seen. Jasha Klebe wrote the score and he impressed me last year with the music for another documentary “Winter on fire”.

The theme for “The challenger” brings a wave of nostalgia to me because it reminds me a lot of a very special and unique atmosphere, the quiet reflection that Elliot Goldenthal created for the movie “Heat”. I love this sound, I love this mood, I love the way this cue flows. It’s respectful, it’s beautiful and it builds up with emotion as if a space shuttle was being launched. I am a big fan of ambient music and the opening of this score brings me a lot of joy.

It’s not just the opening; the space themed cues are all written in the same quiet and dreamy sound that reduces the view from the wide open space to the intimate and personal perception of the astronauts and that one unfortunate teacher. The music always starts slow and then builds up to suggest the majestic nature of space. Jasha Klebe nailed the feelings of admiration and respect for the outer space in his composition. I just feel the need to close my eyes and dream when I listen to “Heading to outer space”.

I like how the composer took a simple approach to this score. The music is minimalistic and very effective. I love the wooden electronic melody of “Meeting the crew members” and the optimism it breathes. The more lively cues don’t break the flow of the score and they fit right in. The dramatic cues that mark the disaster still stay quiet and it’s a very interesting approach, as it they want to show that no matter what happens there, we are still too small compared to the universe. The space shuttle just gets lost and space remains the same, unmoved, unchallenged, vast and dark.

Jasha Klebe once again provides a meaningful canvas on which a documentary can develop. His music doesn’t get in the way of the images and helps both viewer and listener embark on a beautiful and poignant journey. I will keep this one very close. My favorite cue from “Challenger disaster: Lost tapes” is “No sign of the challenger”. Listen to this one and you will know how good this score is.

Cue rating: 95 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 23 / 29

Album excellence: 80%

Highlights:

The Challenger

A Teacher in Space

Heading to Outer Space

Loss of Signal

No Sign of the Challenger

A President in Silence

Pioneers of Outer Space

Remembering Seven American Heroes

 

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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