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Soundtrack review: Boston (Jeff Beal – 2017)


Soundtrack review: Boston (Jeff Beal – 2017)


“Boston” is presented by John Hancock in association with the Kennedy/Marshall Company. Narrated by Academy-Award winner Matt Damon, it is the first ever feature-length documentary film about the world’s most legendary running race – the Boston Marathon.
The film chronicles the story of the iconic race from its humble origins starting with only 15 runners to the present day. In addition to highlighting the event as the oldest annually contested marathon in the world, the film showcases many of the most important moments in more than a century of the race’s history. Evolving from a working man’s challenge to welcoming foreign athletes and eventually women, Boston becomes the stage for many firsts and in no small part, the event that paved the way for the modern marathon and mass participatory sports. Jeff Beal wrote the score.

Since the 2013 bombing the Boston marathon has gathered a lot of attention and there have been a few movies and documentaries about it and the incident. We had “Patriot’s day” and “Stronger” and now we have a beautiful movie about the history of the race itself. As a runner myself, the Boston marathon is among the handful of races I have been following and maybe thinking about taking part in.

The score opens with “Heartbreak Hill” and it’s an alert and optimistic piece that reminds me a bit of the opening credits of “House of cards”. A vigorous string section and the triumphant horns make this a spectacular start. The main theme comes next and it’s a playful orchestral feast where the flute flies like a butterfly among the rest of the instruments. I am just delighted to hear a fairy tale theme like this that just drips with joy and optimism. A theme like this is perfect for a story where people come together. It’s a fantasy, a tale of triumph and one of the best main themes of 2017.

The mood doesn’t change once the main theme is over; the fervour and effervescence of building something new, of starting a tradition, of seeing it grow through time is perfectly expressed here by Jeff Beal with some of his best fully orchestral works; the piano is the harbinger of optimism and hope, of beautiful stride while the flute, the other main character in this charming score brings light and a big wide smile. Each instrument brings its own different sound to the orchestra just like each different runner joins the crowd on the streets of Boston.

Every single person that meant something for the history of this race gets his or her theme and every moment that defined the Boston marathon through the years is carefully described with joy and passion by one of the most gifted composers of our time; Jeff Beal makes this sound like a tale of triumph and relentless work as the orchestra plays their hearts out from strings to horns. The flute and the piano have a special place and when I hear sublime pieces like “Bobby Gibb” for the flute and “Dave McGIllivray” for the piano I just wish I was in a concert hall.

For me sports and running is all about motivation, about never giving up and about pushing relentlessly thorough any state or mood; a score like this presents me with heroes and themes that fill me with joy and stride as I feel part of something greater. Every cue is playful and inviting and the music just makes me happy, that’s the word. This entire album makes me happy and grateful and leaves me in a wonderful state of mind.

“Boston” is more than a score; for me “Boston” is Jeff Beal’s first symphony, something that will be part of his musical legacy. This composition transcends film music and Jeff Beal should take it on the road just like he did with “House of cards”; I applaud a composer with such talent for orchestral music and, as a fan of classical music as well, I count this as one of the most beautiful and memorable compositions of 2017.

Cue rating: 95 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 61 / 79

Album excellence: 77%

Heartbreak Hill
Turn of the Century
For Greece
Japanese Runners
John the Younger
Extreme Weather
Bobbi Gibb
Dave McGillivray
K.T. Switzer
Bill Rodgers
Running Boom
Rob de Castella
Long Long Way
Patriots Day
African Champions
Team MR8
Overcoming Odds
Boston Finale
Boston End Title

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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