The Water Horse is a fable come to life, a story built upon the legend of the Loch Ness Monster. Nurtured in infancy by a little boy (Alex Etel, who had done Boyle’s Millions splendidly) and eventually set free, The Water Horse does what all films of its ilk does, create a sense of caring and soothe the struggle against fear of unknowns. Films like these are necessary to help shape the consciousness of the young, and to ease the consciousness of adults, who already fear too much detachment has spread through our beings.
The music of The Water Horse is a mix of the Celtic musical heritage so easily discerned, and a grand theatre style of music. The composer of the pieces, James Newton Howard, has successfully captured those elements, presenting to us a beautiful, at times hauntingly so, suite of music that affixes to the story naturally. Film, if done right, becomes more than unfolding projected images on the screen. They melt and become emotions. When accompanied by music that is scored by a master of this understanding, the film takes on a tone of genuineness and the fact that we’re sitting in a theatre, enjoying a movie, becomes a foggy experience. Soon you are an onlooker but within the film, as if the action is unfolding before your eyes on a real stage.
James Newton Howard, whose previous works include scores for Pretty Woman, The Prince of Tides, Wyatt Earp, Primal Fear, Major League, Batman Begins, the recent Michael Clayton, and all of M Night Shyamalan’s films, adds with this current score. There are quite a few more movie credits. Given his tallied contributions in film music, it’s easy to see that his ability to grasp the film and to deliver a score to complement it is an ability that he has mastered.
The soundtrack begins with a Daniel Lanois produced Sinead O’Connor vocal track called “Back Where You Belong (Theme from The Water Horse)” that is excellent not only as the opener of the soundtrack but as an attachment to the film. The soundtrack is completed with a track from The Chieftains, a renowned Celtic band, called the “The Water Horse Suite” that also fits beautifully.