You probably don’t know this, but Hans Zimmer is an essential part of your life. He has composed melodies that you hum along and that instantly remind you of the movies they belong to. That is the beauty of film scores: their presence or absence can change the whole meaning of a movie. And Zimmer has succeeded in doing so many times. From The Lion King to Interstellar, his career is a string of gems. It is impossible to say which scores are his best ones, but allow me to show you a small sample of them.
The year Zimmer should have won a well-deserved Oscar for this score, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took the award instead. But 15 years later, it’s not Tan Dun’s music the one we remember: it’s the themes from Gladiator‘s soundtrack what we haven’t forgotten, and it’s Russell Crowe walking through a wheat field what first comes to mind.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Never a score meant so much for a film. Particularly compelling is the soundtrack in The Dark Knight Rises, where Zimmer manipulates your feelings in such a way that you realise his music has guided your emotions throughout the film -or throughout the entire trilogy, in fact. Just listen to “Why Do We Fall”, which plays as Bruce is escaping the pit, or the majestic “Rise“, that accompanies the climatic last ten minutes of the saga.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End
Fun fact: Hans Zimmer was hired for the first movie, but as he couldn’t legally be the composer because he was working on The Last Samurai, he let his frequent collaborator Klaus Badelt take over while he helped from the shadows. But it was a good job indeed -the trilogy’s main theme is worldwide famous. What is remarkable about Zimmer’s work here is the evolution of the scores as the movies get darker: the second film has a very adventurous touch, while At World’s End tends to be more obscure and, at points, melancholic. But “He’s a Pirate” is a winner.
Zimmer is so good at adapting the music to the story that his best examples come from period pieces. Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is the perfect example: not only does he capture the atmosphere of Victorian England, but he also reflects Sherlock’s personality in it, giving the score a modern touch in line with the movie (those banjos and squeaky violins are its trademark). He deservedly got nominated for an Oscar, but there was nothing to do against Michael Giacchino’s score for Up (this is, after all, the man who wrote the score for Lost, so there is now way anyone can beat his superb weep-inducing music).
The Lion King
Do you find surprising that the same man who composed the 12 Years a Slave score also wrote the music for The Lion King? Well, he did, and it is the only time so far that he has won an Oscar for his score. While Elton John and Tim Rice were in charge of the songs, Zimmer created a majestic score, fit for an epic story about royal lions -because nothing says grandiosity like royal lions.