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Soundtrack review: The water diviner (David Hirschfelder – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The water diviner (David Hirschfelder – 2015)


“The water diviner” is Russell Crowe’s directorial debut. He also stars in this movie which is a historical fictional war drama. It starts just after World War I has ended and his character, a farmer and water diviner who searches for his three son’s presumably dead bodies in order to bury them next to their mother, who committed suicide in the wake of the news that her sons were lost at war. The search will reveal some surprises. I’m not sure I want to see a movie this sad, even if it could be a very compelling drama. The score was written by David Hirschfelder, an Australian composer very well known for his score for “Elizabeth”. The score also features compositions by Ludovico Einaudi, Richard Tognetti and Lisa Gerrard.

I must admit I am biased towards scores that feature Lisa Gerrard’s unique magic. Russell Crowe and her reunite after the magnificent Gladiator and her sorrowful and poignant vocals on cues like “Reading to the boys”, “Lizzie dies” and “Dream sequence” make everything hit even harder. Her parts are just the tips of the emotional spears with which “The water diviner” pokes at us. The score is heartfelt and tender and I must admit I am a little surprised. Knowing Russell Crowe I expected a much more aggressive sound. Instead he treated this drama with the care and respect it deserved and the tone of the score is mostly elegiac.

I like the quiet musings the composer shares with us. Dramatic moments like “Ed shot” for example are viewed through a personal, more intimate perspective and the music is stripped of the outside world interventions. Everything is focused on the pain the character feels, on the way everything changes inside him when tragedy hit. The tears trickle inside and get bigger and bigger until they suddenly stop. All that remains is the void.

Each cue from “The water diviner” is in fact a tear. Sometimes it’s quiet, other times it’s doubled by a sudden smile brought on by a nice memory and there are even moments when a tear dries. Some moments almost sound like lullabies. The oriental inserts (a lot of the action happens in Turkey) are subtle and welcomed. The music tells me all this and hardens me, preparing me for the action moments of the score. I perceive these action moments also as mirroring what happens inside. I don’t hear shots or hits or explosions, just worries and an instinct for survival.

I listen to a lot of scores and it’s easy for the music to get mixed up and lost in the pack if it is not special. “The water diviner” sticks its head above the rest. I would say it’s neck and shoulders above and I will surely remember it’s poignant emotional moments down the road. This was probably a very personal project for Russell Crowe and the composer embraced that vision and made it his own. This is a very beautiful and honest score which deserves your time. I believed everything it told me.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 44

Album excellence: 54%


Reading To Boys

Lizzie Dies

Windmill Flashback

The Blue Mosque

Ed Shot

Visit To Cistern (Ludovico Einaudi & Roma Film Orchestra)

Leaving Orhan

Art Doing Art

Dantes Inferno

Candle Montage (Ludovico Einaudi & Roma Film Orchestra)

Dream Sequence

Confession and Escape

Visit To Omer (Richard Tognetti)

Read At Graves

The End (Ludovico Einaudi & Roma Film Orchestra)


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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