Soundtrack Series: Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer is one of Hollywood’s most recognized (currently) compoasers. Born in German, he has made a name for himself working with Dreamworks, Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan. He often incorporates cultural themes, chants or instruments into his music. He’s known for mixing synthesizers with real instruments.
“If something happened where I couldn’t write music anymore, it would kill me. It’s not just a job. It’s not just a hobby. It’s why I get up in the morning.” -Hans Zimmer
1991 Backdraft (Show Me Your Firetruck)
Backdraft was my first taste of what Hans Zimmer’s style, for me, truly is: dramatic, heavy in percussion/bass, very anthem-like.
1994 The Lion King (Stampede)
This was a great piece for the stampede scene where Simba was running for his life. The music and choir give a sense of urgency that is felt in the movie at that moment.
This is my favorite in the Crimson Tide film score. I love how the music builds and at the end when it resolves into the Naval Hymn.
1996 The Rock (The Rock Theme)
This is probably one of my favorite film scores of Hans Zimmer…it’s close between that and the pirate scores. My dad has nearly blown the speakers while listening to this at high volume and heavy on the bass.
For this soundtrack, I had to pick two to show the range of the film score. It was because of Honor Him that I was able to learn more about Lisa Gerrard’s work. The second is from the battle scene. Again, we can hear the dramatic building of the piece that leads us into the action we’ll see on screen.
Hannibal had a slight different feel than Zimmer’s typical film scores. It also includes “Vide Cor Meum” (Behold My Heart), a song composed based on Dante’s “La Vita Nuova”. I believe the piece was used in at least one other movie and possible at one point in the Hannibal television series.
Have a listen to this film score, which has dramatic pieces as well, but I chose this one for it’s more lyrical portrait of the overall movie.
This particular track displays the range within the score, from the tender moments between King Arthur and Guinevere (or perhaps Guinevere and Lancelot 😉 ) as well as the main theme.
One of the things I liked about this soundtrack, besides the music, was how each track name was a specific bat species. Ha…clever. Yes, I’m easily amused at times. At any rate, with the introduction of a new, darker and deeper voiced Batman, it was only fitting to have Zimmer come in with his equally dark music.
This piece holds a mix of the pirate movie main theme, along with the Kraken’s theme and a hint of the Davy Jones theme. Along with all of that, it has heavy pounding of bass and percussion, which I think matches well with the damage the creature is inflicting to the ship of that scene. What I especially like: the organ that gives drama, but also reminds me of a type of requiem mass and the drums/basss that mimic the sound of a beating heart that eventually stops.
2008Batman: The Dark Knight (Why So Serious?)
A phrase that will stay in fans minds as the one utter by the Heath Ledger version of Joker, this scene shows Joker’s plan as it is carried out, the destruction step-by-step. I like the build up and stretching out of the notes until suddenly everything is muffled. You can listen here, but if you want to know what part of the movie, it’s when the Joker escapes from prison and is riding in the back of the police car.
Though not really a fan of this version of Holmes, it was still a fun movie. Discombobulate is my favorite within this soundtrack.
At times, Inception might remind the listener of previous Zimmer soundtracks. I chose this particular piece to display the softer side of the soundtrack.
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Mermaids)
This score mixes the themes from the first of the PotC movies, along with adding some new ones. Mermaids is a favorite of mine on this score. I love the eerie quality of the music, which goes well with the scene. Mermaids aren’t always nice. 😉
If you’ve gone through the above and had a listen, by now you should have a good idea of Hans Zimmer’s style. When seeing a movie, I like to make a special effort to listen to the soundtrack. Appreciation for film score composers is sometimes lost in the shadow of the movie, but a lot of the time, it enhances the viewing experience.