It is difficult to close a list of the best Hans Zimmer soundtracks to ten, after 43 years of career and 63 years of age just turned. There are more than a hundred – no lie – the compositions that the German has created for film, television and even some video games.
Although his style has been emulated by countless composers who continued his school and rely on his particular style to create functional and dynamic soundtracks, none of them can achieve that special sound that Zimmer has built from synthesizer, orchestra and just about anything at your disposal that sounds appropriate to give each project personality.
This year the former keyboardist from Mecano adds projects such as Wonder Woman 1984, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, No Time to Die, Dune, among others to his long-lived discography. However, before they arrive we will remember many others that were born from some such special dumbbells that he has had with directors such as Ron Howard, Christopher Nolan, Gore Verbinski, or Ridley Scott.
Here is a non-definitive list of the 10 best works by Hans Zimmer, (and others) that reflect his development as a composer over the years, his versatility in film genres and the many types of sounds with which he has experienced.
The Lion King
Talking about Hans Zimmer’s career means talking about The Lion King, probably his best score and the most celebrated of his entire musical career. Perhaps the reason behind it is that it is the most personal soundtrack for the composer, who has related that like the character of Simba, he lost his father when he was very young.
« Here I am thinking, everything is so funny, it is a cartoon of funny animals and suddenly I am dealing with the scene of the death of Mufasa which is the scene of a child dealing with the death of his father, » he explains. “My father died when I was very young and suddenly I had to deal with it. I never had. So at the time, it was me writing a requiem for my father. »
The thin red line
This Hans Zimmer soundtrack earned him an Oscar nomination, but above all worldwide recognition as a composer who could abandon the terrain of adventure and action to enter the bars of a reflective, contemplative and at the same time disturbing author’s film. . Malick’s film portrays the savagery of war in contrast to the nature of its environment and the spiritual struggle of the soldiers. The Zimmer piece cast in the video below is one of the most iconic of his career; replicated ad nauseam by other composers and by himself, and used in countless trailers.
With Hannibal the composer ventured into something akin to the genre of « terror » and the natural and perfected continuation of that was The Ring. Here Zimmer starts from a lullaby to tell us the tragic story of Samara. Without a doubt, it is a score that is characterized by a melancholic and sinister string sound that hides a grudge behind it that little by little comes to life in darker and more intense themes. The track « The Well » is a suite of almost 11 minutes in length, which touches all the musical motifs that the universe of « the killer tape » played throughout two chilling films.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
From the dumbbell with Gore Verbinski the buccaneers saga was also born. Without a doubt, the best accomplished and structured work of the trilogy is its culmination. The main theme of the saga was composed by Hans Zimmer at dawn and with time counted. Later it was others – mainly Klaus Badelt – who completed the music of the film. For the next two, Zimmer took the reins and introduced new songs, but it was in the third of them that they reached their peak. In this one, the German abandons electronic sounds « almost » completely and gives himself fully to the symphony to build a classic, epic and extremely emotional sound, ideal to close a trilogy of adventure and action.
When the music of Hans Zimmer flooded the loudspeakers of movie theaters, locals and strangers were surprised by the music that the composer chose for this film. Instead of following the norm and composing musical sounds appropriate to the historical context of the story, Zimmer decided to put his fist on the table and fill the odyssey of Maximus Decimus Meridius with his style. The result is strident sounds born from the synthesizer, electronics, orchestra, male, female, and solo vocals to give the ensemble bombast.
However, loud, electronic sounds are not the only thing that German can bring. Since the genre of romantic comedy and drama has also benefited from his inventiveness. Spanglish is perhaps the best example of this. From its title a crossroads of cultures has been anticipated that Zimmer knows how to transfer to the field of sounds. His music is built on the basis of Latin sounds formed by Spanish guitars, percussions and strings. Perhaps the film is not so remembered, but the music of Hans Zimmer deserves a place on the podium.
The Prince of Egypt
The music of this film undoubtedly complicates all the best that Zimmer has, its imposing sounds for action and its more delicate music for emotional moments. And it is that without sweating the story required it. It is an epic story taken directly from the biblical texts and seasoned with a capital emotional charge for your commercial delight, especially since it is a film for children. Once again the composer resorted to large groups of vocals and musical motifs characteristic of Egyptian culture. The result is downright epic.
There really isn’t much to say about a work that has become a classic. Like dreams within dreams, this score contains multiple layers of sounds and thematic musical motifs that little by little build up the torment and ambivalence of Cobb’s character. Like the character, this emotional lament dances between action and chaos in a bombastic sound infinitely suited to the heights of epicity that Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece achieves. An excellent detail is the use of Edith Piaf’s melody as a signifier within the story and in the creation of music.
The Da Vinci Code
As if the Grail itself or some divinity beyond our grasp has touched Zimmer’s mind, this soundtrack stands as probably his most mature and best-constructed work to date. Here Zimmer reinvents himself and borrows from everywhere: characteristic sacred musical styles; baroque motifs; medieval instrumentation; Renaissance styles of past centuries; and combines them all at the service of a story of suspense and constant persecution. The result is a dark, beautiful and mystical sound in equal measure. As if that were not enough, Zimmer chose to record the music in a church, a decision that gave the soundtrack a unique sound.
Very much in the vein of The Da Vinci Code, this score borrows from him that mystical sound that is perceived as greater than oneself, but for different narrative reasons. This film talks about the survival of the human being in the universe along with the story of a father who yearns, more than anything else, to return to the arms of his children. To illustrate such an emotional theme, Zimmer used a church organ as the central axis of a soundtrack that is sometimes melancholic, epic, terrifying, adventurous with fear of the unknown, and triumphant. The track « No Time For Caution » has become a classic in film music, so much so that Zimmer gave it away online as it was not originally included in the first record compilation.
Bonus: The Dark Knight
We count it as an addition to the list because much of the success in the musical work of this film is due to the work of James Newton Howard. Hans Zimmer brought it on board because he needed the sound to feature the same character duality that exists between Batman and Bruce Wayne. Without a doubt, we can thank the German here for the darker sounds, those of action and above all the incredible musical experimentation so chilling and stimulating that results in the theme dedicated to the Joker.
Hans Zimmer soundtrack