Home > Reviews > FREEDOM WRITERS – Mark Isham


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There have been a lot of ‘inspirational teacher’ movies over the years – from Goodbye Mr. Chips to Dead Poets Society to Dangerous Minds – and director Richard La Gravenese’s Freedom Writers is the latest to join that list. Hilary Swank stars as pedagogue Erin Gruwell, who takes up a post at a tough inner-city school, and seeks to change her students lives for the better through writing, poetry, the power of words inspirational stories about the Holocaust. A fairly well-received drama, the film also stars Patrick Dempsey, Scott Glenn and Imelda Staunton.

As befits the gritty urban setting, Mark Isham peppers his familiar dramatic orchestra writing with a healthy dose of hip-hop, working in collaboration with former Black Eyed Pea William Adams, better known as will.i.am. Isham’s score is generally soft and introspective, making lovely use of intimate piano writing and a lush string wash, and occasionally featuring acoustic guitars prominent within the orchestral mix, although some cues adopt a vibrant jazz/funk theme reminiscent of something Lalo Schifrin, or Isaac Hayes, might have written in the 1970s.

“Museum of Tolerance”, “Mies Giep” and “You Are My Hero” are especially noteworthy pieces, working a solemnly beautiful violin solo which works as a recurring leitmotif to highlight the plight of the six million which is so important to the story.

The commercial soundtrack, which was a popular crossover success, features three Isham cues – “Riots”, “Eva’s Theme” and “Anne Frank” – alongside a number of rap and hip-hop tracks from artists such as Talib Kweli, Cypress Hill and Common. Isham’s personal score promo features 14 score tracks, amounting to just under 25 minutes of music.

Rating: ***

  • Eva’s Theme (1:50)
  • Riot (2:05)
  • Line Game (1:45)
  • Museum of Tolerance (2:37)
  • Hotel Dinner (2:17)
  • Miguel’s Diary (1:44)
  • Miep Gies (0:51)
  • You Are My Hero (1:34)
  • I Want to Come Home (1:46)
  • Eva Testifies (2:17)
  • Breakup (2:18)
  • Twelve Angry Men (0:49)
  • Last Meeting (1:11)
  • Anne Frank (1:40)

Running Time: 24 minutes 32 seconds

Promo (2007)

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