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Lady in the Water
Album Cover Art
Composed and Co-Produced by:

Conducted by:
Pete Anthony
Grant Gershon

Co-Produced by:
Thomas Drescher

Orchestrated by:
Jeff Atmajian
Brad Dechter
Jon Kull
Patrick Russ

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

The Hollywood Film Chorale
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(July 18th, 2006)
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Regular U.S. release.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you're intrigued by the idea of James Newton Howard's darkly romantic writing expanded to the ultimate in complexly harmonic layers, memorable themes, and the balanced mix of superior orchestration and choral beauty.

Avoid it... if you're a sourpuss or a picklepuss, and you'd rather be clubbed over the head by far more simplistic scores.
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WRITTEN 7/14/06
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iTunes (9.99)

Lady in the Water: (James Newton Howard) You really have to admire M. Night Shyamalan for speaking on behalf of the contemporary fantasy genre in Hollywood today. The world of the supernatural has been well represented by his wildly imaginative films, and while the horror genre has never been too far separated from his projects, his newest project, Lady in the Water, is more of a straight fable than his usual affair. Advertised as a "bedtime story," Shyamalan's first film for Warner Brothers introduces us to the Blue World, and the fascinating interaction between it and our own when an apartment building swimming pool mysteriously becomes the portal between them. The apartment manager discovers a young woman from the pool who is in fact a narf, a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to the Blue World. Dangerous creatures exist in between the two worlds, and the narf needs the help of not only the manager, but of the unknown secret powers of all the tenants to assist her journey home. The tenants soon realize that they may all be part of the fable themselves, playing to the usual twists on reality that Shyamalan likes to explore in his films. One of Shyamalan's most trusted collaborators is composer James Newton Howard; their previous work together, The Village, earned Howard an Academy Award nomination for his score. The scores that Howard has written for those previous Shyamalan films have been intriguing and effective, ranging (compared to other composers' efforts) from average to very good. With Lady in the Water, Howard seems to have been inspired by the story of the fable to an extent well beyond the other collaborations, perhaps because of the romantic element of the tale. While maintaining similarities to the previous scores that Howard has provided for Shyamalan, Lady in the Water exceeds those others in intelligence, delicacy, harmony, and thematic integrity. In fact, in every regard, Lady in the Water is not only far more powerful and alluring than its predecessors, but is an outstanding stand-alone score.

It may not draw much attention to itself at the outset, but by the end of your first listen to Lady in the Water, you'll be hooked. This is a relatively rare occurrence in an age in which most scores of this complexity require two or three listening experiences to lure you in. Not here. Howard's score has everything you've ever wanted to hear from an intelligent fantasy score and has, in the process of bring the Blue World to life, become the best score of 2006 through the year's first half. There are several reasons why Lady in the Water is so enticing, and one of them is a direct reflection of the difference between the horror-influenced films of Shyamalan's past and the romantic fable at the heart of this project. Howard's score here is lush and harmonic in a dominant minor key, thematically rich and compelling for nearly every minute of its length. It's the first Shyamalan score that is truly hopeful at its core while still built upon the deeply textured and mysterious foundation that defines these Howard works. The title theme exists for the Blue World and is as magnificent during its performances by solo instrument as it is by the full ensemble and choir. Its simple, deliberate chord progressions are basic enough for an Enya song, but when orchestrated as well as it has been in Lady in the Water, that simplicity of harmony brings pure joy and easy recognizability during each of its uses. Most importantly, the Blue World theme is stated liberally throughout the score, ranging from very slight meanderings of its parts by celesta and piano in some cues to explosive full-ensemble pronouncements in robust, hair-raising fantasy fashion in other parts. Another enticing aspect of Lady in the Water is its plethora of secondary themes. Most dominant among them is a foreboding theme of evil that utilizes victorious, descending chord progressions with a ferocity suitable for any good Batman villain. Though Howard does offer some raging performances of this likewise-harmonic theme (including a whopper in "The Great Eatlon"), he intersperses it well in lighter cello and bass string tones during fluffier performances of the Blue World theme.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.29 Stars
***** 1,173 5 Stars
**** 514 4 Stars
*** 175 3 Stars
** 90 2 Stars
* 72 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
Help fund an up and coming composer!
Thomas Gaff - September 9, 2014, at 5:33 a.m.
1 comment  (467 views)
Brass Section (Hollywood Studio Symphony)
N.R.Q. - April 28, 2007, at 6:24 p.m.
1 comment  (2688 views)
A masterpiece.   Expand >>
David - September 13, 2006, at 9:46 p.m.
3 comments  (3357 views)
Newest: September 18, 2006, at 12:37 Brian B.
Fit for Batman!!
007 - August 30, 2006, at 8:44 p.m.
1 comment  (1610 views)
Wow, another 5 star review!
James - August 28, 2006, at 8:34 p.m.
1 comment  (1580 views)
Beautiful choir and piano work
Sheridan - August 18, 2006, at 3:16 p.m.
1 comment  (1622 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 59:40
• 1. Prologue (2:52)
• 2. The Party (6:40)
• 3. Charades (5:50)
• 4. Ripples in the Pool (1:49)
• 5. The Blue World (4:25)
• 6. Giving the Kii (1:49)
• 7. Walkie Talkie (2:08)
• 8. Cereal Boxes (2:33)
• 9. Officer Jimbo (3:31)
• 10. The Healing (4:03)
• 11. The Great Eatlon (4:41)
• 12. End Titles (1:43)
• 13. The Times They Are A-Changin - performed by A Whisper in the Noise (5:59)
• 14. Every Grain of Sand - performed by Amanda Ghost (4:15)
• 15. It Ain't Me Babe - performed by Silvertide (3:46)
• 16. Maggie's Farm - performed by Silvertide (3:36)

Notes Icon
The insert includes a list of performers, but no extra information about the score or film.
Copyright © 2006-2015, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Lady in the Water are Copyright © 2006, Universal/Decca and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/14/06 (and not updated significantly since).
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