Score Reviews‎ > ‎

Regarding Susan Sontag by Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum (Review)

posted Jan 27, 2015, 4:21 PM by Kaya Savas

Susan Sontag was one of the most important writers and activists of her generation, and her work continues to inspire new generations to follow in her footsteps. The documentary “Regarding Susan Sontag” is a fascinating look inside this woman whose cultural critiques spanned across many mediums. Composers Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum were behind this very effective score, which helped paint a musical portrait of Sontag through a score that exhibits not only structure but style as well. Susan Sontag was an iconic and free-minded thinker who never censored herself. People saw her critical views on war and social issues as liberating, and she lived a life so full that one wonder’s how Hollywood hasn’t turned her life into a film yet. The score here is a pure representation of this woman, and I think after listening through it one would feel like you got to meet her for an hour.

Karpman and Kroll-Rosenbaum do a fantastic job at setting the stage right off the bat. The jazzy stylings of the music immediately give the score a personality, and it also brings the events being chronicled to life. Jazz is a special genre of music that bleeds humanity. It relies in the meshing of sounds, and the performance. If you’ve been to a jazz club then you know the energy that flows from that kind of music, which is exactly what makes this score work. Embedded within the stylish sounds of this score is a narrative structure. The music is telling a story, and it does cover serious moments in Susan’s life with subtlety and care. There is a fragility behind the rambunctiousness of the jazzy flair. The juxtaposition works very well in the grand structure of the narrative. Most doc scores act in the background and subtly do their thing. I found this to be one of the more engaging doc scores I’ve heard that pulls the listener in emotionally. By the end you’ve completed a very engaging, as well as interesting look into another human being.

If you read up on Susan Sontag, watch her interviews and see this documentary you’ll definitely see how Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum crafted a very impressive musical portrait. The score captures the subject’s personality and spirit all the while still crafting an engaging narrative to carry the audience. Doc scores by nature can’t be too present in the mix, and can’t be too attention grabbing in stricture. Karpman and Kroll-Rosenbaum managed to bypass any expectations you had about documentary scoring, and delivered a score that is as unique and interesting as its subject.