Musings About Music In Film


By Karol Krok jerusalem_bostonglobe-978x470

Title: Jerusalem

Composer: Michael Brook

The Film: This 45-minute IMAX documentary from 2013 focuses on the city of Jerusalem and its timeless mystique. Filmed with a large budget, it featured some really stunning footage and is guided through Benedict Cumberbatch’s narration. It main characters are: an archaeologist and three teenagers raised in three major religions – Christian, Judaism and Muslim.

The Score: Michael Brook is a musicians that likes to mix different styles and genres in his work – from orchestral to ambient. His work for this documentary is an example of a cultural melting pot that focuses on Jurasalem’s multicultural population.

Distinguishing Features: ‘Centre of the World’ tracks feature more traditional string writing but enriched by various percussive instruments. As such, they form the very heart of this small score. Pieces like ‘A Shared Heritage’, ‘The Western Wall’ and ‘The Second Temple’ expand on that sound. Just as the city itself, Jerusalem is a result of various influences and Michael Brook seems to be reflecting that. Many of those colours are manipulated in different ways so that the listener is not quite sure what might be playing at any given moment. This approach is very similar to what Alexandre Desplat tried to achieve with his Syriana an entire decade ago. For instance, the manipulated dulcimer can be heard in ‘Aliyah’ and ‘Finding the Stone’. ‘The Night Journey’ features some really nice ethnic woodwinds. At times, rhythmic elements take over more prominently – ‘Ancient Rituals’ is a good example. In the same track, composer makes a nice use of female voices that don’t resort to “wailing woman” cliché and instead speaks to several different cultural influences at once. A lot of this score is really contemplative in nature (‘Under The Church’, ‘Puzzle Pieces’ and ‘The Foundation Stone’), tracks are brief and blend one into another.

Final Thoughts: Not particularly striking at first but really enjoyable, Jerusalem makes an appropriate (and relatively restrained) use of many ethnic clichés that plague modern film music. Michael Brook manages to use those tools and create a thoughtful and emotional final product that does its subject matter justice and creates a fairly coherent listening experience.

Jerusalem is out now from Lakeshore Records