Tag Archives: hans zimmer


We touched upon the latest James Bond score No Time To Die in soundtrack supplement fifty one, and went into a little bit of the history surrounding the music for James Bond and how Hans Zimmer was engaged to work on the latest 007 outing, so maybe we should take a look or listen to the score in more detail, I was initially quite pleasantly surprised about the music that Zimmer and co-composer Steve Mazzaro had produced for the movie and was also very pleased that the John Barry theme We have all the time in the World  from OHMSS was given new life and utilized, being woven into the fabric of the score to great  emotional effect. Well, the full soundtrack has now been released onto CD and is available on digital platforms, with a double LP set also available. So, let’s see what’s what shall we? Surprised, unimpressed, pleased, or down-right angry were the mixed emotions and feelings when Hans Zimmer was announced as the composer on the new Bond movie amongst film music collectors and Bond fans old and new, what would he do? Take an established musical style and well known and loved sound and maybe throw that out of the window for something new and more contemporary? Or would he keep the sound and utilize it to effect or do a combination of both and create a familiar but at the same time fresh style to accompany the licensed to kill spy that we all know and love or love to hate depending on what your opinion is of the franchise. Personally it has never been the gadgets, the girls and the action that has attracted me to Bond, it has always been the music no matter who composed it.

The soundtrack for No Time to Die opens with the Gun Barrel cue, which is an opening on all bond movies that is as iconic as the entire franchise, without the opening I think fans would stage a revolt. In this case its 55 seconds long and sets the scene perfectly, with the familiar strains of the James Bond Theme by Monty Norman being blasted out. Track number two is Matera, and intrudes us to a softer more melodic side of Bond with the We Have All the Time in the World being utilized bringing memories of OHMSS flooding back. Its in track three Message from an Old Friend  that I started to get a little concerned that the Bond music legacy established over the years was going to disappear, as it begins in traditional Zimmer style and resembles something out of one of his Batman scores, being dark and drone like, but this thankfully alters direction slightly, and we hear elements of the James Bond theme and those bond brass flourishes emerging from the background, however these are in my opinion short lived and are overpowered slightly by Zimmer’s trademark dark and foreboding percussive and driving sounds, about mid way through I felt that it had lost direction slightly and it could have been from any movie not a Bond adventure. It is a lengthy cue running at just over six and a half minutes, so plenty of time for it to get back on track, I thought.

There is a variation of the JB theme that runs through the cure, with the bombastic brass occasionally entering the frey, but it never fully becomes a James Bond cue if you know what I mean, electric guitar is also utilized with driving strings underlining and punctuating but it is not until the six minutes and sixteen seconds mark that we hear familiar Bond musical trademarks again. For me it is far to busy, over the top if you like, the percussion certainly working overtime. This is also the case in track four, Square Escape, its powerful its full on but is it Bond or a variation on the tried tested and adored style that has served the franchise well for the past five decades? Too busy too much going on and because of this its difficult to even separate certain elements and appreciate that Zimmer is including a kind of homage to past scores. I think track five, is probably more Bond sounding than the previous two cues, Someone Was There is both mysterious and melodic, which is something that John Barry was a master at and also David Arnold was very good at purveying, one knows that this is something of a respite moment in the proceedings by the mood created with rich sounding strings in romantic mode, but then there is the familiar Bond apprehensive sound that is always in the background, which creeps into the cue, with Zimmer then incorporating more Bond musical trademarks, via muted trumpets, rasping brass and lightly performed electric guitar, and although it never becomes full blown bombastic it comes close. Not What I expected is next and is for me one of the delights of the score, it begins with whispered woods that are underlined by strings, with guitar adding ambience to the piece and a fleeting female voice giving it a certain otherworldly persona.

This mood continues in the cue What have you Done, with the track building and at its conclusion ushering in a short rendition of the JB theme for guitar, brass, and strings. Shouldn’t We Get to Know Each Other First, is one of the cues that was released before the score album was available and is a fitting tribute to the Bond musical franchise, Zimmer including breathy woods and a version of the Bond theme that seeps into the proceedings at the tracks conclusion. Cuba Chase is a bit of a mish mash to be honest, it begins with Bond sounding flourishes then there are Latin elements brought into the equation, but we hear again those Batman-esque percussive and driving components pushing their way in, I know it’s a great action track, but maybe more Bond and less caped crusader would be better. As the cue builds and progresses, we do get more Bond sounds that are mixed in and yes they are effective. But John Barry or David Arnold it’s not, which is ok I suppose as its Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro of course. Talking of which I noticed that he is given music producer title on the credits, and we don’t see an additional music credit until the end of the movie.

We have All the Time in the World is given an airing in the score as I have already said, but there is also a slow and melodic version of the OHMSS main title heard in the cue Good to Have you Back which again is nicely done, and welcome. I also like the way in which the music for the title song by Billie Eilish is given a poignant and emotive instrumental rendition in the cues Lovely to see You Again and Home, the latter cue giving a more lush and romantic aura to the tune., the composer adding that sensitive and haunting female voice to the piece giving it a sensual and almost ethereal sound, the vocal being supported by breathy woods and underlying strings that eventually swell momentarily adding even more romanticism.

But its back to the action for the next cue Norway Chase, the cue beginning slowly and in smoldering fashion, tremolo strings adding a sense of tension, and layered sythns giving it a dramatic and slightly alluring mood with a chiming effect drawing the listener in. It begins to move a little faster the piece picking up the pace and percussive components being enhanced by male voices, or synthesized voices at least from what I can make out, it’s a quite exhilarating piece, the composers building the tension and adding a greater sense of foreboding and urgency as it swells and develops. But again is it the time honoured and familiar sound of Bond not really apart from that ever present variant of the JB theme which is segued in at nearly every opportunity.

 The cue Gearing up is pleasant enough with the acoustic guitar taking the lead and sounding very similar to Zimmer’s cue on Mission Impossible 2, Nyah. The easy-going style soon begins to evaporate as the cue becomes ever more dramatic and action led, with those brass flourishes in the background that are supported by strings and via the use of pizzicato.

Moving forward to the final orchestral track or score track Final Ascent, which is very low key, including a sorrowful cello performance, the track is an arrangement of the No Time to Die song, and is heartrending to say the least, slow and emotive, affecting and effective. An adagio os sorts it is a poignant and haunting piece. A piece that builds with the four note motif that we hear in the title song being the foundation of the composition, with cello giving way to the string section that eventually soars to an almost triumphant conclusion to create a stunning and overwhelmingly emotive moment that echoes the composers Chevaliers De Sangreal from The Da Vinci Code. The soundtrack album concludes with the title song performed by Billie Eilish, which is something I am glad of because the title songs were not on some of the Arnold and Newman soundtrack releases. Overall, this is not a bad Bond score, its far better than the efforts put in by Thomas Newman, but I think falls short of the classic sounds of 007 created by John Barry and the like, in closing I will say that I really hope that David Arnold will be recalled soon, but this is just my opinion. Check it out its on all digital platforms.  



We have here at Movie Music International often discussed the loss of the main theme in film scores, it’s something that if you are of a certain generation will automatically associate with the cinema and the films that you went to see there. Sadly, the demise of the opening credits theme was something that happened gradually, and before we knew it had gone altogether. Now I am of the opinion this is nothing whatsoever to do with the composers but is something that the actual filmmakers or studios have initiated over the past decade or so. Because sadly studios are quite insecure when it comes to turning over a finished movie to a composer, to be honest they would rather hand it to a so called music supervisor so they can then decide what hip songs they can secure to be tracked on the films music track.


A sad state of affairs but it is something that happens a great deal in the corridors of Hollywood studios. Music in film is now made up more of soundscape or sound design rather than music as in the thematic scores that we know and love, motifs and nuances being things that are gradually fading out and leaving the film score scene. However, there are still a handful of film music composers that do write melodic and richly haunting themes and let’s hope that they reign supreme in the not too distant future. This kind of thing happened in the 1970’s remember the dreaded song score, yep those were the days when there was very little good film music around, until that is the likes of John Williams and also Jerry Goldsmith and John Barry began to write symphonic soundtracks again and with Williams in particular evoking and resurrecting the sound of the glory days of the golden age of film music in his score for the first STAR WARS movie, since then things have been pretty good, but as with every type of music film music evolves at times improving but more often than not comes up lacking.

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I would say in the past ten maybe fifteen years film music has been in a decline, I don’t mean every score but certain soundtracks have appeared and one often thinks really? One composer that invariably comes into the firing line when discussing drone like sounds and the new age film music that is now establishing itself is Hans Zimmer, now I think you all know that in the past I have been vocal about the composer and his leaning towards working with other composers on each score, again invariably it is Zimmer’s name that appears to be displayed prominently on the film poster or on the end credits, with other composers taking second place, with these composes on most occasions providing most of the music with a little guidance from Zimmer, so Zimmer in essence being a music supervisor am I wrong? Well that’s the way I see it anyway. In recent months however I have begun to take in depth listening trips to the works of Zimmer and in many cases I have watched the movie first then listened, and vice versa.

What I discovered on my forays was especially in the BATMAN trilogy from director Christopher Nolan, that Zimmer’s scores are a vital and an integral part of the film, without this action packed and brooding music the BATMAN trilogy of Begins, Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises I am of the opinion would be rather lack lustre. At times the composer manages to hit the heights of a musical excellence that does verge upon the operatic. I know you may be thinking, hang on is this the same guy writing here that hated MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN VS SUPERMAN, yep, it’s me Hi everyone.


I have taken a listen and also a look at his work and decided that yes it is good film music in the context of the movie, maybe not so listenable away from the images, but he is a composer of film music, and film music has a job to do for the movie rather than being written to be listened to as stand-alone music which is something that maybe was the idea back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, provide the film with a score but at the same time write something that maybe just maybe might get played on the radio etc and have a life away from the movie itself. I have also concluded that the reason he gets a lot of bad press from many collector’s is probably due to the way that his fans applaud and praise everything he does, even if it is not particularly good. But, is that his fault, nope, exactly so the problem is not him or his music it’s the supposedly dedicated fans that follow him and wait with baited breath for his next score to roll off the production line. Fans who in the majority of cases have only been collecting soundtracks for a short time and have not been able to savour the wares of other composers.

So if you are one of these fans that idolize and basically worship Zimmer, please read on, this article is not another Zimmer hating piece that we see on so many discussion boards, I hope it will be a fair and honest look at a selection this composers work, from his beginnings assisting to Kill a Video Star, whilst playing keyboards on a Buggles video, or even opening and closing Going for Gold on ITV with a really cheezey theme or better still when he was a student of revered composer Stanley Myers who acted as a mentor for the young Zimmer. We will see what he is about I hope and also maybe discover a few hidden gems along the way too. I am going to begin with BATMAN as this is a trilogy I watched over again recently and also re-discovered the darkness and the heroic undertones of Zimmer’s score, I say Zimmer’s score but of course we must also acknowledge that James Newton Howard had a hand in bringing this score to fruition. What I loved about the music in the series was that it was as shadowy and secretive as the central character, and also it contained a proud and driving musical persona throughout.

The music for the second movie in Nolan’s trio of movies, THE DARK KNIGHT in particular I thought was like a simmering saucepan of water which is on the edge all the time and threatening to boil over at any moment. The highlight cue within the score has to be LIKE A DOG CHASING CARS, it’s a builder, and it enhances the action, gradually gathering momentum until the percussive elements become uncontrollable and usher in the driving strings and the tense sounding brass, it’s a great piece of scoring and has to it an almost Wagnerian sound and style to it, it is bold and grand, operatic and total consuming. The composition taking on more and more instrumentation as it continues to propel headlong all the time adding tension and excitement to the proceedings. James Newton Howard, is credited alongside Zimmer for this but was it a collaboration in the true sense or was it a collaboration when each composer contributed certain cues, its hard to tell, as the style remains pretty constant throughout and it is a sound and a style that I for one associate with Zimmer as opposed to Newton Howard. The entire trilogy of scores are all brooding and unsettlingly dark, but when I have said in the past where are the themes, well, if you listen again like I have, they are there and hit all the right spots with precision timing and are like musical punchlines that are strategically placed to create the most impact and also become an integral component of each and every scene and also are well placed and masterful pieces that lead from one scene into another seamlessly. The score, compliments Nolan’s set piece shots and punctuates the action as well as underlining and making the exciting chases even more frantic and affecting.

The sight of THE BATMAN standing aloft on a tall building surveying his domain is awesome enough, but add to that the musical darkness as conjured by Zimmer and Newton Howard and this is not only the stuff of cinematic memories but something that will live long in the minds of a generation. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is the third in the BATMAN series all’a Nolan, and Zimmer scored this on his own it seems as no other composer receives a credit. The final movie in this trilogy, I thought was possible the most action packed, maybe not necessarily the best but that I suppose is a matter of personal taste. Zimmer’s score is superbly mysterious and ominous, but it also contains slithers of emotion that he layers throughout the work. Again the music superbly supports, punctuates and enhances, every scene and every sequence, vibrantly lacing and weaving into the action and into the emotions of the central figures, becoming harsh and jagged but also possessing the sensitivity that is required at key moments within the films storyline.

I love the way that the composer utilises voices within the score, it somehow gives the movie a softer and less aggressive feel, but this is something that many composers do for example when a scene is maybe violent and chaotic they score it in an emotive or serene way, the music being calming which in fact not only supports the sequence but has the ability to make the scene or the act of violence more impacting and thus become more memorable to the audience, because the music literally lulls them into a false sense of security. Zimmer is a master at layering, repeating and building sounds and music to become an imposing force within any movie, TIME from the movie INCEPTION is a perfect example. But in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES the composer seems to take this style of scoring to new levels, slowly building pieces like smouldering embers that gradually are fanned and grow into a ferocious and consuming inferno.

This is displayed perfectly in the cue, DESPAIR, Zimmer ushers in ominous and dark sounding brass that is underpinned with brooding and unsettling electronic support, the horns then become more of a background but remain a force within the composition, the darkness and the swirling synths and strings combine to become a driving and strident sounding piece, in which we hear fragments of a theme raising its head momentarily, and then it subsides until percussive elements take hold and bring both strings, horns and brass underlined by sharp stabs from the percussion alongside choral chanting until he sets a more defined course and brings into play a foreboding and virulent atmosphere, DESPAIR segues into the cue FEAR WILL FIND YOU again Zimmer layering, building and adding textures and predominately dark and sinister sounds. Its, not something that I would listen to on a Sunday afternoon in the garden, but when the images of a Gotham city in turmoil and under attack are combined with Zimmer’s expressive and at the same time atonal shades and colours it is in a word magnificent. FEAR WILL FIND YOU moves into WHY DO WE FALL again forthright, and action led, that mixes into the short but effective DEATH BY EXILE, which is the introduction to IMAGINE THE FIRE, another smouldering and action laced cue that is such an essential piece of the movie, without it the atmosphere and the mood that comes across would not be as taught and edgy. The final cue on the soundtrack release is RISE and it is the music played over what essentially is the end scenes of the film, and it is also an important part of the stories conclusion where everything seems to at last fall into place and we the audience think we know where it is heading, or do we?


This style of scoring has been evident and present in many of Zimmer’s scores, even as far back as 1991 in his epic sounding music for BACKDRAFT, the composer layered musical colours and added textures as he built and formed the themes for the soundtrack. BACKDRAFT I think was the first time I fully took notice of Zimmer, I thought the music worked so well within the film at times taking on the persona of the unpredictable and unforgiving flames, but also adding a more personal and tragic atmosphere to the proceedings. The score however was more of a traditional film score sound in my opinion, it was crammed with themes, and the composer utilised leit-motifs for a number of the characters, there was a kind of family theme and also a waltz inspired piece entitled THE ARSONISTS WALTZ, but the most powerful I would say is the commanding and foreboding composition entitled BURN IT ALL which is a succession of five note sequences performed on strings, that introduce the track, the composer adding percussion, keyboards electronic support and even a sound that mimics the breathing apparatus used by fire fighters, add to this rasping brass, choral effects and other percussive elements and fast paced string stabs with heroic horns and what we have here is a high octane and richly inspiring piece, the use of a lone trumpet depicting sadness and loss is to a masterful touch by Zimmer. With tracks such as SHOW ME YOUR FIRETRUCK this was and I think still maybe one of Zimmer’s best.

From the action and danger of the fighting 17th, we go to a more delicate subject matter, RADIO FLYER was released in 1992, and tells the story of Mike who now in his adult years and a Father remembers his childhood and of a time when he and his Brother moved to a new home with their Mother her new husband and also their family pet a dog called Shane. His younger Brother becomes the object of physical abuse at the hands of the Stepfather, so Mike decides to turn the toy trolley that he and his Brother share into t

It is a score that is not often mentioned, but certainly one that you should check out to hear another side of Zimmer and it is a side that I for one love. Harmonica, boy soprano, piano, brass flourishes, romantic and driving strings they are all here, and are supported by synths sparingly for effect at key points, but overall RADIO FLYER is a surprising and pleasant listen. The music on the soundtrack release is sectioned off into three parts, which are essentially three music suites, plus there is also a song by Shirley Ellis, but it’s the inventive and highly creative score that we are concerned with, Zimmer also enlists the aid of a children’s choir at one point and a beautifully haunting violin solo, that although emotive is at the same time unsettling. The composer was also involved with British TV back in the 1980’s his theme music for the BBC production FIRST BORN (1988) for example is a work that has always stuck with me and showed that even in those early days Zimmer had potential. But it is mainly his music for movies that has grabbed many peoples attention, his work on films such as RAIN MAIN, BROKEN ARROW, GLADIATOR, INTERSTELLAR etc, are all atmospheric and supportive scores that became integral parts of the production adding depth and substance to many of them. And let us not forget BEYOND RANGOON (such an underatted score), POINT OF NO RETURN, THE POWER OF ONE, NINE MONTHS, THE THIN RED LINE, THE LION KING, THE DA VINCI CODE, THE LAST SAMURAI, TRUE ROMANCE, and THELMA AND LOUISE. Zimmer has scored over one hundred and fifty movies and continues his rise to becoming one of the busiest film music composers of all time. Love it or hate it, Zimmer’s music has made its mark, and it is something that is now part of cinema history alongside Williams, Barry, Goldsmith, Morricone etc.

It is a funny thing that with the majority of Zimmer’s scores I am hard pressed to remember them once I am either out of the cinema or I have just finished listening to one, it is more his central or core theme that I recall, which is ironic because I and many others have accused the composer of not writing themes, but here I am thinking of his music and TIME pops into my head form INCEPTION as does THE BATTLE, THE WHEAT or NOW WE ARE FREE from GLADIATOR and anyone of the jaunty and quirky pieces from THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films or even those dancing Marimbas on TRUE ROMANCE so he must be doing something right.

GLADIATOR for many was the score that cemented their awareness in Zimmer, THE BATTLE is a spectacular piece running for nearly twelve minutes and supporting and at times becoming part of the opening battle scene in the movie. There were a few eyebrows raised when collectors first heard this as it did have a striking resemblance to the work of Gustav Holst’s MARS THE BRINGER OF WAR from the PLANETS in places. But I suppose composers are inspired by other pieces of music and was not Mars the Roman God of war after all. I think I am right in saying that the Holst estate or at least lawyers acting on behalf of them and the composer’s music publishers, did lodge a complaint against Zimmer about the copyright infringement. But is it bad for a composer to be influenced by another and in this case a Master such as Holst. Although plagiarism is not really the way to make an original score is it. Its happened before with other scores and other composers, some have thankfully saved face by realising that they have written something that sounds similar to another piece of music, like the time Chris Gunning was having trouble with a score and then suddenly came up with a tune which he thought was brilliant, only to be asked by one of his children are you writing the music for the McDonalds adverts now. My opinion on GLADIATOR is that Zimmer thought of the Roman God of war and decided to write something similar to the Holst composition subconsciously to accompany the Roman legions doing battle with the barbarians, what better way than to utilise a foreboding theme based on such an iconic piece of music, probably should have asked first or at least given credit to Holst. From Romans, Gladiators and Barbarians back to superheroes.


MAN OF STEEL had music by Zimmer, Glennie-Smith, Junkie XL and Atli Orvarrsson, so four composers for the price of one, well maybe. The score for this SUPERMAN adventure was probably not ging to get much praise or positive reaction, not because it is a bad score but we as film music collectors had become conditioned and used to the SUPERMAN theme as penned by John Williams, so I suppose (and yes I was guilty of this) we all were waiting to hear the familiar theme jump out at us as the super hero donned his costume and became the MAN OF STEEL, but nope still waiting. When you think of it would the Williams theme had worked for this incarnation of our beloved Kel-El, probably not, and in all honestly Zimmer and company did a pretty good job to produce a score that worked without that theme. The film itself was darker so a Williams-esque type score would have been somewhat out of place, again it’s a case of the saying horses for courses applying.

This is a foreboding sounding score, and one that works better in the movie than away from it, whereas the Williams scores worked both for the movies and away from them, but that was a different generation and also a film that was a fairly innocent and tongue in cheek adaptation of the SUPERMAN stories. MAN OF STEEL is a tougher and more robust movie, ok maybe not as popular but still a worthy addition to the SUPERMAN series and it has also a inventive and innovative musical score. The track FLIGHT on the soundtrack is filled with hope and also has to it an inspiring sound, but although it is inspiring it is a different sound to what we had become accustomed to, but being different does not mean that it is not good film music.


THE THIN RED LINE is one score that some seem to overlook, the movie was good and Zimmer stepped up with the music, fashioning a soundtrack that is melodic and in places highly emotive, the richness of the compositions are evident as the work progress’s and develops. Zimmer employing a near classical sound at times with strings and subdued woodwind combining on many occasions to create delicate and beautiful tone poems that are affecting, calming and heartrending. Obviously because of the subject matter of the movie, the music does at certain points turn more dramatic, threatening, and darker. But even in the midst of the more action led pieces there are still glimmers of thematic material, the composer scored the movie in the late 1990’s and the style and sound achieved is certainly a more subtle one than we hear in more recent assignments, again the scoring away from the action being a feature that makes this an outstanding work and one that I felt was quite spiritual and haunting. This mood is particularly prevalent within the cues JOURNEY TO THE LINE and LIGHT the latter being a pleasant and affecting composition that seems to wash over the listener and also creates a fragile atmosphere. For a war movie the music is surprisingly calming and has to it a relaxing and graceful air. From the ravages of war and the nightmare that was the battle of Guadalcanal.


I just want to say that I am in no way a fan of Tom Cruise, but I was impressed with his performance in THE LAST SAMURAI as was I with the score that Hans Zimmer penned for the movie. Alongside BACKDRAFT I think it is probably my most returned to score by the composer, maybe it has something to do with the movie rather than the appeal of the actual score, but I have to say that this is an outstanding work again in the context of film and music working together to create special moments on screen. This is Zimmer and his most poignant and also at his most inspiring, the composer fashioning heartrending interludes and alongside these purveying a sense of action and honour via percussion, brass, strings and male chanting. Zimmer’s adagio like composition THE WAY OF THE SWORD and A SMALL MEASURE OF PEACE being highly emotional and wonderfully supportive of the movie.

Hans Florian Zimmer was born in Frankfurt Germany on September 12th 1957, he began his musical career back in the 1970’s playing keyboards and synths for a band called KRAKATOA, and later worked with THE BUGGLES in the UK, where he teamed up with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, if you watch carefully Zimmer can be seen briefly in a video of VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR which was a hit for the band. After working with The Buggles, Zimmer started to work with an Italian band KRISMA which were a new wave band that had originally been formed in 1976 by Maurizio Arcieri. After which he performed in a number of bands during the latter years of the 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s and began to produce records for other bands one of which was a single entitled HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 for the DAMNED. Whilst he was in London Zimmer began to write jingles for adverts which were commissioned by the AIR EDEL STUDIOS. It was not long after this that he began to work with respected composer Stanley Myers, Zimmer often providing electronic support for Myers symphonic works for film. Films that they collaborated on included MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE, MOONLIGHTING and INSIGNIFICANCE. The composers first solo scoring assignment came in 1987, when he wrote the music for Nico Mastorakis’s TERMINAL EXPOSURE a soundtrack he also provided the songs for as well as the actual score. In the same year he produced the score for the movie THE LAST EMPEROR which won an Oscar.

As a young child Zimmer played piano but his lessons for the instrument were short lived as he did not take to the discipline that was required to have formal training. As a teenager he moved to London where he attended HURTWOOD HOUSE school. He has said on many occasions that as a child his interest in film music stemmed from hearing the film scores of Ennio Morricone, and has also said that ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST was the score that inspired him to become a film music composer. To discuss all of this composer’s works would be a mammoth task, and what can we say that has not probably already been said, to say that he is an innovator is I suppose the best way to describe him, his music is at times experimental as I he uses instrumentation that a more conventional composer probably would not has now become the inspiration to many young composers. Like it or not, Zimmer is HEAR to stay.




Music in documentaries or wildlife programmes is in recent years quite big news, I suppose it all started with the collaborations as realised by David Attenborough and composer George Fenton which we were enthralled by from what seems so long ago now. Composers such as Fenton seemed to make an even bigger name for themselves via these types of scores or scores for these types of films and TV shows. Another name that pops up in wildlife programmes on the music side is Sara Class who has written some impressive scores for a handful of shows. In recent years Hans Zimmer has entered the fray as it were writing for the likes of David Attenborough and has composed the theme for Attenborough’s latest collection of programmes that explores the funny, quirky, sad and often brutal world of animals in the wild. But let us not forget the undersea world of Jacques Cousteau which were scored by British composer John Scott, and even epic series such as RUSSLAND, YELLOWSTONE etc, all with wonderfully descriptive and grandiose sounding musical works. So, to the latest release of music from a wildlife series, the show made its debut on BBC one in the UK on Sunday 27th October this year. SEVEN WORLDS, ONE PLANET, has an opening and closing theme composed by Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea, and a score which is credited to both composers, but I suspect Shea did most of the work for Bleeding Fingers Music.



I have to say that this is a particularly well written score, it is highly melodious and purveys so much emotion. I suppose the key to writing music for films such as this is to underline not only the action on screen or the actions, but also to try and infuse some degree of the animals characters into the work, after all there is no dialogue from the central players, but only narration, music in film is supposed to support and elevate without being heard, but in a wildlife show does it still have to do this, I know it has to support and colour scenes and also give depth and add emotion, but should it be heard. Well I think so.


Remember WILD AFRICA it had a great score by Chris Gunning but the composer was criticised for writing too much music by some, but I did not have a problem with that at all, as the composers music was not only enhancing the images on screen but was also becoming the voice of the animals and the sounds of the desert, prairie etc. I have to admit to not being a fan of these shows, I find it hard to sit through them and yes I know its nature and is in the words of the Lion King song it is The Circle of Life, but if I were there and saw an animal in trouble I would help, wouldn’t you?

But this series is not just about survival of the animals its also about the changing environment of our planet and I think asks the question will humans adapt to these changes and survive or simply turn a blind eye and ignore them and ultimately perish. Tens of millions of years ago the earth went through many changes, these changes that basically tore the crust of planet apart shaped the seven continents, each area and landscape or seascape have its own individual climate and its own unique form of wildlife. The programme looks at each continent and the life that established itself on each. It will I think hopefully make us realise just how fragile this earth is and give us a better understanding of it. It could be part of the wake-up call we as humans need, that will poke us in the ribs and say DO SOMETHING. Or maybe we will ignore all the evidence and when it is too late Humans will be heard saying, WHY DID YOU NOT TELL US? As we all disappear into oblivion. The music for this series is wonderfully affecting, as I say it credits Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea, but for me I think it is probably Shea who contributes the majority of the compositions, probably supervised by Zimmer as there are definite little trademarks and musical nuances present within it that are Zimmer influenced. It is a score that is overflowing with real melody and some beautifully constructed rich and wonderous sounding material.


Listening to the opening cue on the recording, SEVEN WORLDS ONE PLANET SUITE one cannot fail to be moved. This is a near eight-minute track which is a tantalising and sublime listening experience, plus it is just so emotive and entertaining it can send shivers up one’s spine and bring out those Goosebumps. The theme begins slowly and in a subtle way, it is almost predictable as it gains momentum, but is affecting, the simple but imposing piece grows and develops with the composers adding choir and percussive elements as the strings supported by the woodwind sections carve out the haunting and gloriously majestic four note motif that is the foundation for the central theme. This foundation is built upon and although it is basically a repeated motif is still lavishly enticing and wonderfully hypnotic. Brass is added and makes the piece even more grandiose and appealing, solo voice is also brought into the equation which is literally the icing on the cake making this one of the most impressive pieces of TV music that I have heard in a long while. The score for this series is I think its beating heart and its bared soul, it purveys so much emotion and creates numerous atmospheres and moods.

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What we have here is a work that encompasses many styles and sounds, a vibrant plethora of magical, mystical and wonderous sounding compositions that accompany dancing fireflies, warring Musk Ox, Tamarins, Cheetahs, Brown Hyena’s, Puma’s and an array of wonderous sights from all continents. But there is a darker side to the score as in every work for film, it cannot be all sweetness and light after all, that is not the way of the world. The final cue on the recording CONSERVATION is an impressive one, it is mildly apprehensive, even slightly sinister, with the music being performed by both symphonic and synthetic elements, the use of solo cello is beautifully alluring and contains within it a sense of melancholy, as if the earth is asking us for help. This too like the opening track is over seven minutes in duration and although not as thematic initially alters direction and we hear the central four note motif being introduced, this builds and again the percussion booms and the strings soar but briefly bring the recording to its conclusion. The composers have fashioned a score that is hauntingly beautiful and one that collectors I know will adore.



Available on digital platforms, CD available soon from Silva Screen records. 




I was not intending to write a review of this soundtrack, but after trying to listen to it a few times I decided that maybe it should be written. DUNKIRK the movie is quite brilliant, director Nolan I think has got it right and the way in which he approaches the subject matter and shoots the actual story is impeccable and affecting. The score however is yet again another disappointment, Hans Zimmer once again has created a soundscape rather than a musical score, because musical it cannot be called or labelled. The composer utilises musical and unmusical sounds at times to create his soundtrack, but although at times the sounds are effective within the context of the film I found it a distraction rather than supporting the proceedings. Zimmer is without a doubt a talented man, and I get so frustrated about the way in which many film music collectors put him on a pedestal as if everything the man has done is filled with brilliance, yes there have been a few scores that have hit the mark both in the films and away from them BACKDRAFT for example, GLADIATOR another such example. The soundtrack for DUNKIRK was another case of a missed opportunity in my opinion and yes before you all shout it I do realise film scoring has changed since the days of 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, but would it have hurt to include a few bars that bared some resemblance to a march or an inspiring or patriotic sounding theme. As I say within the context of the movie Zimmer’s efforts work to a degree.  they build the tension and also create the stressed atmosphere and the feeling of hopelessness but. this is not music. One of the longest cues on the soundtrack is SUPERMARINE which I have to admit I dislike with a vengeance, it is grating and perplexing, repeat, repeat ,ad nauseum.  I get the use of the  ticking clock, but that’s a sound that has been utilised many times in film scores by the likes of Morricone, Zimmer’s sounds on this film are for me a nightmare and also an experience that I will not repeat ever I do not think. Make up  your own mind.as this review like all others is a personal opinion, but film music this is not, it’s more like one of those odd dance tracks that everyone raves about says how great it is, but never actually dances to it because it’s just too weird and so they never buy it and rave on about it because they think it’s COOL to do so. Zimmer as always was not alone in this venture, two other composers are credited Lorne Balfe and Benjamin Wallfisch, but I cannot hear anything different or original within their cues that sets them apart from the rest of this soundtrack, it just grates on and on, never really getting anywhere, apart from the end two tracks in which Edward Elgar is also credited, and in which we can just about pick out his Nimrod composition. which is heavily masked by the electronics of Zimmer and Balfe, sorry don’t like it, and if Christopher Nolan is to direct a Bond movie, please, please, please no Hans Zimmer. If that ever happens I will start collecting blown light bulbs.





It’s amazing that the Pirates of the Caribbean series began back in 2003, and is still by reactions from fans of the series on the latest addition to its cycle, going strong. The musical scores have played a big part in the popularity of the movies and have also become something of a standard on the radio and in concert performances of film music. The first movie in the series had a score credited to composer Klaus Badelt who in my opinion did a great job of enhancing and underlining the action and very tongue in cheek and over the top antics of Captain Jack Sparrow masterfully portrayed by the highly talented Johnny Depp, and this is where I get confused Badlet scored the first movie, yes? So Badlet also created the now familiar PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN theme Yes? Or maybe no? because the next instalment, DEAD MANS CHEST also contains the very same theme but the credit this time goes to Hans Zimmer, confused yes, I am a little me hearties. Then came AT WORLDS END which followed on very quickly behind DEAD MANS CHEST in fact it was in cinemas less than a year after DEAD MANS CHEST, again music credited to Hans Zimmer, so at this point are we thinking who is Klaus Badlet? Up next we have in 2011 ON STRANGER SHORES, again its Mr Zimmer, but is the theme still present yes me hearties it be there arrrr, oops sorry was slipping into character whilst splicing the main brace and standing on the poop deck. So, I am still confused, Badlet or Zimmer, or did Zimmer have a hand in the original? when the films were not popular or an unknown quantity, then when the films began to gain a large audience Zimmer decided ummm now hang on a sec, maybe I should have agreed to have my name on the first movies credits for that theme. There is certainly no doubt that the theme is filled with everything that is love him or hate him Hans Zimmer, it evokes BACKDRAFT for example and brings into play the grandeur and the dramatic power of GLADIATOR, so maybe Zimmer did write it, and very graciously gave the credit to Badlet, not sure, so I won’t pursue this any further because I am becoming as befuddled as Captain Jack. The scores for the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series are probably some of the best and arguably the worst of the 21st century thus far, they are filled with the correct amount of yo ho ho and are also bulging with numerous bottles of rum, copious amounts of skulls and cross bones etc, and if anyone says any different I will keel haul you and make you walk the plank. So, to the latest offering PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-DEAD MAN TELL NO TALES, OR SALAZARS REVENGE, see the motley crew in search of the Trident of Poseidon, the tale is filled with action and mystical goings on. The movie has been met with mixed reviews and I must say by looking I have found most of the critic’s reviews to be a little negative, it is sad at times when a franchise or series of movies out stays its welcome, and maybe just maybe Pirates has done this and really should now be heading towards Davy Jones locker to rest forever.


The score for DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is credited to Geoff Zanelli, who although at times does burst into the Badlet, sorry Zimmer Pirates theme at times, has for the most part as far as I can hear written an entirely original sounding work for the movie, which is something of a breath of fresh air these days in film. However, there are as I say certain points win his score where the influence of the past Pirates scores seep through, but this is certainly not a negative. Zanelli’s score for me is more developed or has more substance than the past two works in the series, but also it does somehow lack any real punch or power as I was waiting each time it seemed to get underway for it to build and become even more of a commanding powerhouse of a score, but instead each time it just held back. Please do not take this the wrong way, as the music is for the most part good, but it is a basic action score in the end with no real surprises and nothing that kind of stands out or comes along and hits you in between the eyes and wows you. There is no doubt it is a serviceable score within the movie, but away from it as a listening experience I was not bowled over, three exceptions are the tracks entitled KILL THE FILTHY PIRATE, I,LL WAIT, I,VE COME WTH THE BUTCHERS BILL and TREASURE which are in parts interesting because the composer manages to sustain a decent pace and momentum throughout both, with that Badlet, No sorry, Zimmer theme weaving in and out. Zanelli is a fine composer and I have for many a year admired his scores, but this PIRATES episode I think is maybe PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-ON TEPID MUSICAL WATERS.