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Pleasant, charming score for children's fantasy
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall.
A mermaid fantasy film for children, Aquamarine is a pretty obscure little film from 2006 which truly shows how remarkable a world film music fans are in. A film that nobody's heard of, with a composer that people will have heard of but who surely doesn't sell many albums based on name alone, joins the ranks of the limited edition soundtrack releases. David Hirschfelder has actually written a few very decent scores in his time - most famously Shine, though of course that score was somewhat overshadowed in the film; and the excellent Elizabeth, whose quality could perhaps only truly be appreciated when comparing it with the music for the sequel.
I'm surprised that since those two movies (both of which earned him an Oscar nomination) he hasn't gone onto more high-profile fare, but most of the films he has scored since are not well-known at all; Baz Luhrmann's upcoming Australia is the obvious next potential step into the big time. Glancing at the album booklet for Aquamarine and reading a synopsis of the plot would instantly lead one to expect a Rachel Portman-style twinkly piano score, but Hirschfelder's quirky music couldn't be further from that. I guess if one were to compare it with another film composer, Thomas Newman would be the one, but fortunately this score is not part of the ever-growing number which just emulates that composer's style - it just possesses a similarly off-the-wall sound.
The opening title cue with its sampled vocals instantly makes clear that this is not going to be a very predictable score; the theremin-like synth in "The Storm" confirms it. For sure, there's an orchestra here and its sound is the dominant one, but the layers of synthetic material over the top keeps this from being your typical generic score. While the score lacks a particularly strong central theme (its chief flaw), there is a sense of magic to it when everything comes together, which happens for the first time in the wonderful "Meeting Aqua". It's lovely music throughout, really very pleasant, and even though it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression, it's still nice to hear a composer tackle a film like this from a slightly different point of view, and La-La Land's album is very easy to enjoy.