Top 5 Hans Zimmer Movie Scores
With “Dunkirk” hitting theaters, audiences witnessed the next chapter in the Christopher Nolan catalog. While his catalog is not lengthy, each film he produces contains all the elements to immerse his audience within the scenery, the characters and the action to make them feel as if they are living in the film themselves. (Thanks IMAX) One of the reasons Nolan’s films entrench their audience, has to do with one of the most important aspects of filmmaking: musical scores. “Dunkirk” features another team up of Christopher Nolan and composer Hans Zimmer. Hans Zimmer been composing for major motion films since the 1980’s. If you do not know him, just think of films with scores that stand out. “Lion King,” “Gladiator,” “Rain Man,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Dark Knight” trilogy….Hans F’n Zimmer. His style and influence has impacted over 150 films, while earning Academy awards, Golden Globes, and Grammy’s among others. Though I absolutely loved the soundtrack to “Dunkirk,” I wanted to highlight my personal top 5 film scores by Hans Zimmer.
5. Crimson Tide
Growing up, I was a huge fan of submarine movies. “Hunt for the Red October,” “U-571,” “K-19 The Widowmaker” and “Crimson Tide” to name a few. “Crimson Tide” provides a score that is just plain thrilling. The film captures so much in what post-soviet era politics looks like and how intense it can be. Zimmer decided to use synthesizers rather than traditional orchestra. This gave an interesting take on what you might expect in a soundtrack about Americans, Russians and mutiny playing against each other. Ultimately every component of this score highlighted the ever changing situations the characters faced and yet keeping the audience highly engaged. As I said before, this was just a thrill of a soundtrack. It did win a Grammy after all!
4. Man of Steel
Given the original score for Superman was done by John Williams, there was some level of expectation on what the score for this reboot would be. While some (maybe many) had issues with “Man of Steel” as a film, I personally found the score to stand out the most. The fight scenes are epic and the music that occupying them are no less epic. As Superman is trading blows with General Zod, the music is pounding rhythmically right alongside it. When Superman first learns the extent of his powers and origins, the moment is built up so well, you forget about the original “Superman March”. That’s what I enjoy about this score; a constant theme is kept throughout and continues to build alongside the story. While Man of Steel had mixed reviews, the score undoubtedly shined.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Hans Zimmer actually helped compose the scores for the first three Pirates movies. However, I am confident I am not alone in stating, Curse of the Black Pearl was the best of the series. The same goes with the score. While I’ve seen Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End several times, I don’t recall the music backdrop to either. However, Curse of the Black Pearl clearly is in a league of its own among its series. Who can forget the opening scene with Jack Sparrow making his entrance?! The music behind that scene not only stands out, but sets the tone for the film. It’s fun fits the character and is prevalent throughout. As the film progresses, the music elevates each scene. From sword fights between Sparrow and Will Turner to the pursuit of pirate ships on the open seas, the music drives the excitement. As with Zimmer’s work, the music is more than just background to the scene or complementing it, but rather the story alongside it. From now on, when I think of pirates, this soundtrack will be playing in my mind.
2. Dark Knight Trilogy
This trilogy set the new standard for super hero movies. I would argue so did the musical score. Batman Begins was written by Zimmer and James Newton Howard to have two separate themes which represent a split personality of Bruce Wayne. Zimmer also didn’t want the score to reflect any of the music from Batman films up to that point. All this gave a fresh sound and feel to match the new tone Nolan was directing. As with the story of “The Dark Knight,” things were turned up a notch. This is no different with the musical score. From the very beginning you get that feeling of being immersed in the scenes. (Again, thanks IMAX) Each action sequence brings a heavy yet eloquent sound that seems to match the fighting style of Batman. However, it’s the Joker scenes that shine musically. So much suspense is built with so few notes. While Batman gets the thunderous chorus, Joker has the ever light string chord that builds ever growing suspense through each scene. Lastly there is “Dark Knight Rises,” which continues the theme for Batman with the thunderous chorus yet working to build suspense in the villains. This musical score showcased a more vocal chorus than the previous films which made it unique among the trilogy. These films combined make up some of the best in Hans Zimmer’s masterpieces.
While this is a stand out film for Nolan, the soundtrack is easily one of Zimmer’s best. With “Intersellar,” Zimmer goes above and beyond his previous accomplishments to provide a uniquely driven score that truly excels in making this feel like a space symphony. Given the larger than life plot, the score ensures each scene feels overly epic. The use of piano and strings provide a unique central melody, yet also play a major role in making the climax more powerful. However, it’s the organs that really elevate the score. They both usher in major moments and foreshadow the same. Together the instrumentals allow emotions to be more genuine, transitions seamlessly elegant, and make the musical backdrop as stunning as the visuals. Hans Zimmer outdoes himself in this collaboration with his familiar friend Christopher Nolan that will hopefully influence more films to come.