Music Reviews

Finding Nemo

Original Soundtrack by Thomas Newman


It’s surprising to read in the press release that Finding Nemo is Thomas Newman’s first score for an animated film – he takes to it like a fish to… no, I can’t… I can’t…

Finding Nemo was the biggest hit of the summer, and is the top-grossing animated film of all time – $336,477,830 at the time of this writing. Good thing, too. This being the case, I’m assuming most of you have seen it and don’t need me to belabor how lovely a film it is, how groundbreaking the visuals, charming the performances – Ellen DeGeneres deserves an Oscar nomination – and thoughtful and layered the script. Suffice it to say Nemo is the new gold standard of cartoons and the CGI/Pixar style has pushed two-dimensional animated features to one side, where they will stay until someone thinks of something really clever.

Listening to the original motion picture soundtrack by Thomas Newman is like feeling that summer wind Sinatra sang about, with its beautiful but bittersweet nostalgia. It makes me more anxious for the DVD release of the film, but its sounds can never quite equal the sights of the sea below. However, let us not forget the opposite is true as well – without this soundtrack, Nemo would have been quite a different movie.

Reminiscent of some of the most enjoyable scores of Disney films from the past – especially on “Why Trust A Shark?” – Finding Nemo features flute, piano and guitar in music which captivates from the opening “Wow” and amiable main title to the ethereal “Lost in Fog” and “Haiku.” Even a fun track like “The Turtle Lope” comes wrapped to an instrumental intro which is truly moving.

Andrew Stanton, the director and co-writer of Finding Nemo, contributes a brief text that speaks to the quality of sadness in Newman’s work on the film. This is a characteristic that does not come at the price of the score playing as gloomy or depressing, just a tinge, just an aftereffect, a touch of rust on something shiny. And Stanton compares the effect of Newman’s music on the filmmakers to that of Dory on Marlin in the film, helping them to discover “emotional solutions that even [they] didn’t know [they] needed to find.”

Finding Nemo:

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