MP3: Trumbo (2015)

October 15, 2015 | By


Trumbo2015Score: Excellent

LabelLakeshore Records

Released:  November 6, 2015


Tracks / Album Length:  28 tracks / (48 mins.)

Composer: Theodore Shapiro

Special Notes:  n/a




Theodore Shapiro’s score is a small work of art, a discrete portrait of the celebrated screenwriter whose career was quashed after the HUAC hearings, sending Dalton Trumbo to jail with nine other Hollywood artists.

It’s a clever score because Shapiro completely rejects any use of a formal main theme, avoiding the potential for maudlin melodrama, and applies a series of piano notes that are cyclically offset by a gyroscopic rhythm, giving the score both momentum and (appropriately) the tone of a suspense thriller.

Subterfuge and conspiracies bleed from the chords, as well as Herrmannesque muted brass in the stellar opening track “Eighty Words a Minute,” evoking Taxi Driver (1976), and portraying Dalton Trumbo as free speech crusader without blasting audiences with a pinched heroic theme.

Most of the tracks average 2 minutes, but the album works as a series of short statements, jabbing the listener with moments of intrigue, outrage, tenderness, and like a classic Jerry Fielding score, using slightly jazz elements, precise instrumentation, and complex rhythms to convey a character’s psychological state. Instead of Democracy’s wounded hero, the music of Trumbo worms its way through his anguish of being ostracized, abandoned, and rendered a non-person.

Shapiro’s early work included documentaries, after which he scored a number of comedy films, but this is a fine example of his knack for tackling dramatic subtext, character psychologies, and always being aware of a character’s full arc, making Trumbo a marvelous statement on a complex and important figure in film history.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Soundtrack Reviews

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