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Soundtrack review: Lady in the water (James Newton Howard – 2006

JNH Thursday

Soundtrack review: Lady in the water (James Newton Howard – 2006


“Lady in the water” is another one of the most appreciated James Newton Howard scores for an M. Night Shyamalan movie. It is from the period where the difference in value between movie and score was starting to grow. I didn’t enjoy the movie much. And, strangely, this score isn’t among my favorites either.

I wouldn’t think so when I’m listening to the “Prologue”. The opening of the score is one of the best James Newton Howard has ever written, in my opinion. The rolling piano reminds me of Phillip Glass and it’s more aggressive than the tempo Newton Howard usually uses. It’s a theme I hum and remember quite often. It stays isolated though, and I don’t recognize it in the rest of the score…

“Lady in the water” isn’t as deep to me as other James Newton Howard scores. It stays at the surface and doesn’t go any further. The listening experience is soft and pleasant, but a little too quiet. It doesn’t try to move me, and I want to be moved. I recognize whispers of that main theme in “The healing”, in a slower form, and I love that cue.  It’s tender and beautiful and I cling to it and play it over and over again to compensate for the lack of feelings from the rest of the score.

“The healing” is a symbolic title for what happens to “Lady in the water” from that moment on.  “The Great Eatlon” finally delivers and soars above all other cues with orchestral fireworks. I adore the delicious urgency of the rhythm, the excitement of the choir and the explosion of the main theme I had been waiting for. This track finally turns the moth into a gorgeous butterfly and I get what I needed from this score.

“Lady in the water” doesn’t end up as emotional and spectacular as other James Newton Howard scores, but that main theme and the ending are enough to establish an unmistakable identity and they will not leave my imaginary playlist of James Newton Howard wonder cues…

Cue rating: 73 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 42

Album excellence: 42%



The blue world

The Healing

The Great Eatlon

End Titles

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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  1. yes 25th August 2016

    Hello. excellent job. I did not expect this. This is a
    excellent story. Thanks!


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