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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big Top Romance
Water for Elephants is a romantic drama based on a popular novel by Sara Gruen. It stars Twilight's Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski, a young veterinarian during the great depression who leaves his Ivy League school and takes a job with a travelling circus looking after the animals after his parents are killed. It is there that he meets and falls in love with Marlena...
Published on April 28, 2011 by Jon Broxton

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Water for Elephants
This movie was okay, but I would suggest reading the book. To me the movie was a big disappointment because like most movies based on a novel, so much is left out of the movie and the scriptwriters have a tendency to leave out important events and characters. But for those who do not read I suppose the movie is a fair, but inaccurate, substitute. You won't get the full...
Published on March 1, 2012 by C. G. Williams


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big Top Romance, April 28, 2011
By 
Jon Broxton (Thousand Oaks, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
Water for Elephants is a romantic drama based on a popular novel by Sara Gruen. It stars Twilight's Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski, a young veterinarian during the great depression who leaves his Ivy League school and takes a job with a travelling circus looking after the animals after his parents are killed. It is there that he meets and falls in love with Marlena Rosenbluth (Reese Witherspoon), the circus's star performer - despite the fact that she is married to August (Christoph Waltz), the circus's head animal trainer and ringmaster, who has a deeply cruel streak. The film was directed by Francis Lawrence, co-stars Hal Holbrook, Paul Schneider and Jim Norton, and has a quite lovely score by James Newton Howard, reuniting with director Lawrence after their collaboration in I Am Legend in 2007.

A gentle, intimate work written for the most part for a full orchestra, Water for Elephants is a bit of a departure from Howard's most recent works, many of which have tended to emphasize action and tension over romantic passions, and as such this score comes across as a breath of fresh air. Howard hasn't been able to get out this particular bag of tricks to this extent in many years, and it's a timely reminder that he is a much more well-rounded and versatile composer than his recent filmography suggests.

There's quite a bit of Alexandre Desplat, quite a bit of Thomas Newman, and a little bit of early James Horner in this score, in terms of tone, structure and orchestration, and although these elements clearly represent a little bit of temp-track bleed-through on the part of director Lawrence, the music does not suffer because of it - on the contrary, the blending of his own style with that of these contemporaries makes the score a very engaging listen. The Benjamin Button-like opening cue, "Did I Miss It?", is a lovely piece for a pair of harps that gradually picks up whimsical, light percussion and a tender string section, giving the score a sense of long-forgotten memories, times past, and sepia-tinged nostalgia. It also introduces the score's recurring central theme, a pleasantly romantic piece with a dreamy, dance-like tempo, which is restated frequently throughout the score: on piano in "Circus Fantasy", with tender intimacy in "Rosie", and with a wistful, faraway quality in "Jacob & Rosie" that reminds me of something Horner might have written in the 1980s - possibly Cocoon, or something in that style.

A secondary theme, a more conventionally romantic piece, first appears in the second half of the superb "Circus Fantasy", and provides welcome echoes of some of Howard's more beautiful themes from the past, most notably the love themes from Dave and Wyatt Earp from almost 20 years ago. A longing, subdued variation appears in "Jacob Sees Marlena" where it is accompanied by a very effective ghostly synth choir, before eventually developing in a deeper, more yearning romantic theme with a swaying, undulating string figure that is very evocative.

The Thomas Newman influence is very apparent in cues such as the superb "The Circus Sets Up", which features the lively acoustic guitars, light plucked strings, metallic percussion and upbeat rhythms that have typified many Newman scores over the years, but are a new - and welcome - addition to the Howard canon. Thankfully, the one thing missing from these circus themes is stereotypical "big top" music - there is nary a euphonium or a Wurlitzer in sight - with Howard concentrating instead on the inherent romance and drama of the film.

A little bit of darker material crops up occasionally, such as at the beginning "Prosze Rosie, Daj Noge", "Shooting Star", at the beginning of the bold and dramatic "I Can See Straight Through You", and especially the stark and tense "Jacob Returns", which offsets cold synth chords with threatening, rumbling string figures and a cache of guitars and various other pluckers which manage to come across as palpably menacing, especially considering the soft and beguiling music elsewhere on the album. These more dissonant interludes are rare, however, and for the most part Howard is content simply to paint an appealing and engaging musical picture of forbidden romance at the carnival.

The conventions of 1920s America are conveyed by a couple of source music period songs, most notably the almost laughably raunchy "I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl", in which legendary blues vocalist Bessie Smith belts out as many thinly-disguised euphemisms for sexual intercourse as she can muster without upsetting the censors. She needs a little hot dog between her rolls, she needs a little steam heat on her floor, if you know what I mean. Even Howard himself gets in on the act with and an original piece of speakeasy jazz, "Barbara's Tent", which sees him breaking out the jazz trumpets and clarinets to wonderfully sleazy effect.

The score reaches its dramatic and emotional peak in the final cue, "The Stampede/I'm Coming Home", which emerges from unsettling electronic effects and growling basses and cellos into a powerful and impressive string fugue that has textural flavors of the epic finale from The Last Airbender, as well as some Thomas Newman-style violin phrases, before concluding with a warm and engaging performance of the main theme that gradually diminuendos down to a stripped-down finale on a lovely solo piano.

Whatever shortcomings Water for Elephants may have as a film - and judging by the reviews it has quite a few - James Newton Howard's score is not one of them. Fans of intimate romance and gentle emotion will find it to be an engaging listen from start to finish, with pretty themes and beguiling orchestrations that are tempered with a few moments of liveliness and a few moments of darkness to balance things out. In a year which has - with the exception of Marianelli's Jane Eyre - proved to be remarkably bereft of serious romantic works, Water for Elephants sits proudly at the top end of a short list as one of the best of its kind in 2011 to date.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like They Used To Write 'Em, April 29, 2011
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
They may not write movie scores like they used to, but James Newton Howard comes pretty darn close, with his excellent score to WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. The music here is wistful and yearning, exciting and poignant. With its clarinet solos, it is reminiscent of moments in Bernstein's masterpiece, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. This is a very satisfying and evocative score, but I DO have one quibble: Where's the memorable love theme? Come on! This is a big romantic story and could easily support a love song a la "Lara's Theme," or "Three Coins in the Fountain." I know, I'm hopelessly old fashioned, and this is a great score, song or no song. Just can't help but wish . . .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming, May 15, 2011
This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
the music wants to make you cry a beautiful masterpiece in the film and the music that goes with it
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic!, April 28, 2011
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C. Grant (Riverside, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
This is a beautiful soundtrack. My favorites are Circus Fantasy and Rosie, but all of the songs take you right back to the film, which I loved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WATER FOR YOUR SOUL, May 21, 2011
By 
NeuroSplicer (Freeside, in geosynchronous orbit) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
Soundtracks are the evolutionary heirs to the symphonies and operas of the past centuries. Some are good, others are bad, a rare few are timeless masterpieces. This is one of those rare cases when the music that accompanies and compliments a movie manages to escape the silver screen and stand on its own.

James Newton Howard manages to capture an era and an atmosphere; the desire and the desperation; the hope and the apprehension. I have not seen the movie yet (I will definitely do so now) but this mesmerizing music is able to create an endless imagery in my mind, an imagery composed from a full set of emotional colors.

The album sets off with the romantic "Did I miss it" which defines the theme and the pace. In between, the instrumental pieces pay around the theme, using it as a spring board to complete their own dive into our soul.
I disagree with the notion that the five Big Band and Gospel period songs are out of place. I found most of them to fit nicely and give a reprise from the instrumental narration.
The very last track, "The Stampede - I 'm coming home", ends in a majestic note.

This is one of the best soundtracks I have ever owned - and that is neither an exaggeration nor a small feat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Water For Elephants Soundtrack, November 8, 2011
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
Very beautiful, romantic, haunting and fun music for this super great movie!! The CD was in excellent condition, as promised, and it arrived lighning fast!!! I would recommend this music to classical fans and fun music fans...it is so great. I will buy from this seller again anytime. I have no complaints only praise!! Nice to work with people who mean what they say and say what they mean in descriptions. Thanks so much!Bought this thru AMAZON and always do!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational, June 4, 2011
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
I truly enjoyed the book and adored the movie...The music of course
correspondes with that era of the late 20's and early 30's. If you are
as eclectic in your music choices as I am, you will truly enjoy this
beautiful CD...It is very calming and a treat for the ears after a long
day at the office...Do yourself a favor and try this out...You will not
be sorry...Water For Elephants
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful score, but I avoid the period pieces, May 20, 2011
By 
HardyBoy64 "RLC" (Rexburg, ID United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
For the sheer beauty of the instrumental score, I give this score 5 stars. James Newton Howard shows once again why he can compete with the best of Hollywood composers. The gorgeous themes of this score are haunting and ethereal and this is my favorite score of the year (followed closely by JANE EYRE by Marianelli). What I love about it is that he infuses the circus theme into the music in a very subtle way and although the circus theme does come out strongly at one point (the TENT track), for the most part it appears in a minimized way, allowing the beautiful strings and clarinet to hold the attention of the listener. The period pieces, while they may remind one of the film and perhaps they fit into the film perfectly, do not contribute to the stand-alone listening experience of the score, so I skip them. The first one is a short 30-second clip that fades beautifully into the score, so I quite like that one. The other jazzy vocals are not why I listen to this amazing score. In fact, the "I need a little sugar in my bowl" song is just too over-the-top for me. I guess you could call this a "flaw" in the score, but the instrumental pieces are just too stunning to remove a star from my recommendation. Great music here!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful music for us., July 2, 2014
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
Howard does excite us again with this score for Water for Elephants. With a theme that persuades us that we are again a child at the circus perfectly describing the side shows and acts as one personality the opening theme is spot on and carried throught the film. Where needed the full orchestral piece delivers potent music of anger and sympathy towards the main character of this movie - the elephant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Circus Soundtrack, February 23, 2014
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This review is from: Water For Elephants (Audio CD)
I like this Soundtrack very much.The Movie from is than very well.People should buy it.

Many Regards from Switzerland
R.Cavallaro
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Water For Elephants
Water For Elephants by James Newton Howard (Audio CD - 2011)
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