Home > Reviews > IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON – Philip Sheppard

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON – Philip Sheppard

September 7, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In the Shadow of the Moon is a critically acclaimed documentary directed by David Singleton, which chronicles the manned missions into space undertaken by NASA in the 1960s and 70s. The film features footage from the many Apollo missions, including the Apollo 11 mission which successfully landed on the moon, and the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, the events of which were chronicled in Ron Howard’s 1995 film of the same name. Actual astronauts – notably Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, two of the three men who were part of the first moon landing – feature in the film, lending it a great deal of credibility and historical importance.

The score for the film was written by British composer and virtuoso electric cello player Philip Sheppard, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music who has written music for various British TV projects, including the acclaimed ‘Simon Schama’s History of Britain’, and who has performed on the soundtracks of films such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Hotel Rwanda.

As one would expect, Sheppard’s music for In the Shadow of the Moon is noble, patriotic, emotional, heroic, and filled with a sense of wonder and discovery. It’s the perfect aural accompaniment for what remains humanity’s last frontier, and is filled with the kind of hope and optimism that the men and women of NASA surely felt themselves as they embarked on their voyages of discovery.

The music ranges from fully orchestral, Americana-inspired themes (as in the “Opening Titles”, the surprisingly old-fashioned “The Launch”, and the vibrant “Down Ladder”, the sweeping “Apollo 13”), to pseudo-religious choral writing (“The Good Earth”, “The Eagle Has Wings”, “Re-Entry”), from appropriately spacey and other-worldly electronic ambiences (“Gemini to Apollo I”), to more intimate solo piano and solo cello pieces (“Loneliest Man”, “Downlink”), the latter of which are more often than not performed by Sheppard himself.

There are clear influences in the music – James Horner’s Apollo 13, classic Aaron Copland, even old Newman and Tiomkin westerns – but where Sheppard’s score works is in the blending of these styles into his own shape. It’s all very impressive stuff for what is, effectively, the composer’s mainstream debut, and I look forward to seeing what this talented young man does next.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Opening Titles (2:17)
  • Mare Nectaris (1:57)
  • X15 Jet (1:19)
  • Gemini to Apollo I (2:51)
  • Elegy (1:07)
  • Crawler (1:47)
  • The Good Earth (2:40)
  • Vigil – Eve of Launch (2:19)
  • The Launch (3:40)
  • Staging (1:36)
  • Go for TLI (1:43)
  • Mare Serenitas (1:19)
  • The Eagle Has Wings (1:55)
  • Lunar Descent (4:09)
  • The Eagle Has Landed (1:35)
  • Loneliest Man (1:45)
  • Down Ladder (2:21)
  • Raising the Flag (1:47)
  • Apollo 13 (1:21)
  • Lunar Ascent (1:43)
  • Epiphany (1:15)
  • Re-Entry (3:26)
  • Downlink (7:27)
  • End Titles (2:17)

Running Time: 55 minutes 36 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-339512 (2007)

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