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In this era of cultural down-dumbing, it’s nice to come across a documentary series which doesn’t aggressively simplify its subject. With all his talk of leitmotifs and abstract composition, composer and ‘Sound of Cinema’ presenter Neil Brand has no desire to patronise his viewers – and yet this three-part look at the history of film soundtracks is still highly accessible, particularly this central segment focusing on how filmmakers and soundtrack artists opened their ears to the possibilities of popular music.
It’s impossible to cram such a rich and variegated story into an hour-long programme – poor Ennio Morricone gets unreasonably short shrift, and there’s no mention at all of the Blaxploitation boom. But Brand makes up for these shortcomings elsewhere: his giddy love for John Barry is infectious, and an interview with David Lynch’s longtime collaborator Angelo Badalamenti proves the highlight of the entire series.