Philip Sheppard, a cellist and professor at the Royal Academy of Music, seems to have had a great opportunity as a composer in working on the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon, which traces the NASA space program with extensive restored footage. Unlike a dramatic feature, such a film provides lengthy, slow-moving shots of remarkable visuals of the earth and the moon, and Sheppard has provided an appropriate soundtrack. The traditional way of handling such film stock would be with classical-sounding orchestral pieces; in more recent times, contemporary composers, notably Philip Glass have accompanied documentaries like Koyaanisqatsi with rapid, repetitive rhythmic figures to convey energy. Sheppard seems to be familiar with both approaches, and he uses them both, sometimes in the same cue, such as "X15 Jet," which has an attractive melody and a Glass-like rhythm pattern. Much the same is true of "Re-Entry." The story of the moon landings is not only one of triumph and great pictures of space, but also includes some tense and even tragic moments, which Sheppard conveys in such cues as "Elegy" and "Crawler," using familiar orchestral methods to convey sadness and suspense. But for the most part this is music to accompany a heroic saga played out against breathtaking scenery.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|In the Shadow of the Moon, film score|