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Water For Elephants

Water For Elephants

By Patrick Samuel • May 4th, 2011
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Sony Classical

Release date: 2nd May 2011
Running time: 60.26 mins

Composer: James Newton Howard

Movie Review

Academy and Grammy Award nominated Composer James Newton Howard is no stranger when it comes to creating the majestic. Having started off touring with Elton John in the late 1970’s as a keyboardist, he then moved onto scoring for films and television shows.

Over the years he has frequently worked with director M. Night Shyamalan on films such as The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002) and The Lady In The Water (2006) to create incredibly diverse scores that fit seamlessly with the stories.

In addition to those, he has also worked with Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer on the scores for the recent Batman films, as well as two of my all-time personal favourites, Dreamcatcher (2003) and Hidalgo (2004).

Water For Elephant

His latest score is for Water For Elephants and it does not disappoint. The cues are as varied as they are magical and dramatic, fitting the period the story is set in.

Starting with the short piece, “Did I Miss It?”, where Jacob returns to the circus as a 90 year old man, only to find that he’s missed the show, the cue is soft, playful and yet melancholy. We get a sense of the duality of the circus here; there’s an air of magic and wonder but also the bittersweetness which comes at the show’s end, when the sparkle and illusion begins to fade. It’s a simple arrangement, composed using keys, strings and very light chorals that swell and soar toward the middle before the strings lead out with its resounding notes.


1. Did I Miss It? (1.53)
2. The Circus Sets Up (3.45)
3. Circus Fantasy (2.32)
4. Jacob Sees Marlena (5.01)
5. Button Up Your Overcoat (0.32)
6. Prosze, Rosie, Dac Noge (4.12)
7. Rosie (3.25)
8. Speakeasy Kiss (1.34)
9. I’m Confessin’ That I Love You (1.41)
10. Barbara’s Tent (1.18)
11. Jacob Returns (5.31)
12. Don’t Tell Him What Happened To Me (2.03)
13. Shooting Star (2.26)
14. The Job Is Yours (0.57)
15. I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl (2.47)
16. Stomp Time Blues (2.34)
17. I Can See Straight Through You (6.00)
18. Sanctuary (1.55)
19. Baptism – Jacob & Rosie (1.59)
20. The Stampede – I’m Coming Home (8.21)

The second track, “The Circus Sets Up”, picks up with that light motif again and expands on it with slightly more variations. Things take a different turn with “Circus Fantasy” where it becomes much more dramatic with the orchestra in full swing. Strings, guitars, tambourines and drums come together as the show gets underway.

The soundtrack also features jazz selections which were popular during the 1920’s and 30’s. Spliced between Newton Howard’s cues are Ruth Etting’s “Button Up Your Overcoat” from 1928, “Stomp Time Blues” by Jasper Taylor & His Statestreet Boys from 1927 and “I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl” by Bessie Smith, likely to be from around the same time. They add a wonderful twist with their sultry sounds and fanciful melodies.

Water For Elephant

My favourite piece is “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You” performed by Newton Howard. It was composed by Doc Daugherty and Ellis Reynolds with lyrics by Al Neiburg in 1930 and since then has been recorded by many artists such as Louis Armstrong, Perry Como, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Dean Martin, but is featured here as an instrumental.

Jacob Returns” is very dramatic and is the one track on Water For Elephants which has the strongest contemporary feel to it with its galloping drums. The soundtrack comes to a close the same way the film does; after the stampede there is calm and the music plays out in a rather contemplative way. Both stir the heart and force a tear, even if for just a moment, before it all fades.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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