Hans Zimmer and The Power of The Soundtrack
What is the most important ingredient in the making of a good film? Without a well-made soundtrack, a film cannot function as it were meant to. And who is the leader in this area at the moment? Is it John Williams, Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer?
The perfect director, chemistry between cast members and excellent writing are all key ingredients of making a fantastic film, but there is one key element that makes or breaks a film: the soundtrack. No matter how one tries to argue it, without any music a film falls flat and cannot deliver the emotional impact it is meant to. Yes, some films exist that are music-less and they work, but those are rare occasions. Remember the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode entitled “The Body” in which Buffy deals with the loss of her mother? The episode was devoid of music, but it has been hailed as one of the best episodes in television history. Even though a few examples exist, there is no doubt that the soundtrack to a film is the key ingredient. Think about horror movies. Without music you would not be scared. The music heightens tensions, gives you a sick feeling in your stomach and makes you jump with loud clangs as someone on the screen jumps out of the shadows. Not only is the music important, but the composer has to be brilliant as well.
Throughout my many years as a moviegoer, my favorite composer has changed. In the beginning, it was all about John Williams. Let’s face it, James Williams is the premiere composer in the film world having done such iconic work as Jaws, Superman: The Movie, the Star Wars Saga, the Indiana Jones series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Home Alone, Jurassic Park and of course the first three films of the Harry Potter series. He has created some of the most memorable theme songs the world has ever known, and when you listen to his music this euphoric sensation bubbles inside you. Whenever my family and I would go on road trips I would put one of my Harry Potter CD’s in my portable CD player and hum each and every note of each and every song out loud. I knew every song so perfectly that my parents often had to tell me to be quiet because I would hum for hours. His work is truly incredible, but then as I became a fan of Tim Burton my favorite composer shifted to the one and only Danny Elfman.
Danny Elfman is Tim Burton’s right-hand man when it comes to film scores, and his quirky style is one that has interested me from day one. His filmography includes nearly all things Tim Burton such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as Men In Black, Flubber, Spider-Man, and Mission: Impossible. And how could you not love the man who created one of the most iconic television theme songs of all time: The Simpsons! Danny Elfman is one of those rare composers who takes interesting and sometimes odd instruments, and uses them to create some of the most intriguing music ever written. But recently, my favorite composer has shifted to the amazing Hans Zimmer.
Hans Zimmer, although having been composing since the early ‘80s, has really only become a recognized composer since 2000. For me, Zimmer is the leader in the industry at the moment. His discography includes Black Hawk Down, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Da Vinci Code and Kung Fu Panda, but most importantly he has been the composer of Inception and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It is rare that I find soundtracks that I can listen to over and over again, but Hans Zimmer has accomplished this with both the latter two works. Try to imagine Inception without Zimmer’s signature style of music. It just would not be the same. Zimmer’s grandiose, dark and grimy sound is what made Inception what it is. It would not be interesting seeing buildings crashing down, or explosions, or people in a bus falling off a bridge in slow motion if John Williams did the music. Zimmer’s style can easily be described as epic, and that is why I love listening to his creations. As I am sitting here writing this I am listening to The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack and am just in awe of his incredible compositions. I have not even seen the movie yet and I am already in love with it. Zimmer has an undeniable sound, and it should be recognized for its genius and its power to elevate the films that utilize his work to some of the most successful films that the world has ever witnessed.
Songs to listen to:
The Dark Knight Rises – “The Fire Rises,” “Despair”
Inception – “Mombasa,” “Dream Within a Dream”
And if you like my perspective on everything pop culture you can keep up with my daily doings over at www.themagiccritique.com.