Making A Murderer

Music Composed By: Kevin Kiner

With Themes By: Gustavo Santaolalla

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                The Netflix original series, Making A Murderer, focuses on the life of Steven Avery, a man who spent eighteen years in prison for a sexual assault and attempted murder that he did not commit.  Upon his exoneration due to DNA evidence in 2003, Avery filed suit against local law enforcement, but soon found himself arrested once again, this time accused of murder.  The series cast doubt on Avery's guilt and thousands of viewers signed petitions requesting pardons for Avery.  But is Steven Avery truly innocent of this new crime?

                When I heard of viewer reaction to this new series, I wondered.  What could persuade thousands of viewers decide that a man is innocent so convincingly as to inspire petitions for pardon and release?  There are those that say that the series painted Avery only in a good light, leaving out crucial damning evidence and never focusing on the victims.  But there is another manipulative aspect of this series that no one seems to discuss - the musical score.

                The musical score of Making A Murder was created by Kevin Kiner with themes by Gustavo Santaolalla.  Kevin Kiner is an American composer who initially entered college as a pre-med student, but eventually decided to pursue his passion for music.  Since deciding on a career as a score composer, Kiner has created a number of musical scores for television and film, including Leprechaun, Safe House, Wing Commander, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.  Argentine musician, composer and producer Gustavo Santaolalla has created music that has been used for television and film for years, but only began concentrating his efforts on film scoring in the late 1990s.  Since then, he has created a number of musical scores for film, including Brokeback Mountain, Babel, August: Osage County, The Book of Life and more.

                The acoustic guitar theme in Making A Murderer suggests that Steven Avery is a simple, small town country boy.  Thus, the music tells us he's a good guy who has found himself in a bad situation.  That theme becomes more morose as mounting evidence is revealed against him.  As the series presents its case against the prosecution and local law enforcement, the music takes on a darker, more sinister aspect with lower registry music, dark percussion, reverb and electronic sound.  This new turn in the music suggests that a terrible wrong is occurring, suggesting that Avery is being set up.

                Kevin Kiner and Gustavo Santaolalla do an excellent job in creating a musical score that tells the story of Steven Avery in the sort of light that the creators of the series want to portray him - as an innocent man who has been wrongfully accused to divert attention from the corruption and incompetence of local law enforcement and prosecutors.  Is that the reality of this case?  Who knows?  But I can honestly say that, with a different musical score, perhaps the public outcry would be less enthusiastic.  I submit (yes, sounding like a lawyer here) that the music of the series is just as manipulative as the information presented, thus influencing the feelings of the viewers, making them supportive of Steven Avery whether he is innocent or guilty. 

                Don't believe me?  Well, you'll just have to check out the Making A Murder Soundtrack and see if I'm right.  Listen to the soundtrack without watching the show and see if you don't begin to feel as if Avery is a poor soul being railroaded for something he didn't do by the evil sheriff's department and the prosecution without even knowing the facts of the case.


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