There’s no sure-fire method to making a good film, but if Hans Zimmer is writing your score – you’re already half way there. Such is the degree of acclaim bestowed upon the German maestro that many of his most famous soundtracks find there way from sheet music to Spotify playlists. Here, we select his most brilliant and memorable compositions, as well as those that prove he is the most versatile and accomplished composer in the industry.
Put simply, Interstellar would not have worked without Hans Zimmer. Synthesised keyboard notes and rapturous organ chords capture the expanse of space and the dangers of its travel with such appropriate brilliance, powerful enough to make even Matthew McConaughey burst into tears. It will go down as one of the best in history and is a perfect example of a score’s power to truly make a film.
The Dark Knight Trilogy (2008)
Marking the beginnings of a formidable Hollywood partnership, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is the roaring success it became thanks in no small part to Hans Zimmer’s thunderous soundtrack. The score seems to build in grandeur as the trilogy progresses, culminating in a final instalment with one of the coolest endings of any film, ever.
Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
Hans Zimmer teamed up with fellow German composer Klaus Badelt for the first of five in the Pirates franchise to deliver a musical reflection of life on the seven seas. ‘He’s a Pirate’ remains one of the most iconic tracks in cinema, and listeners will feel compelled to hop on a boat to the Caribbean.
Russell Crowe’s career-defining performance was made possible by Hans Zimmer’s score, and Gladiator is anchored by a soundtrack that is aggressive, emotive and empowering in equal measure. Wheat fields sway, crowds roar and heads roll.
A film about manually planting dreams within dreams shouldn’t have worked, but (once again) the team of Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer make it so. ‘Time’ and ‘Dream is Collapsing’ are highlights, and truly facilitate the crazy scenes for which they were written.
The Lion King (1994)
Elton John and Tim Rice may have written the original songs, but it was Hans Zimmer’s score that made Mufasa’s death so moving and Simba’s redemption so powerful. The wildebeest stampede is also suitably frightening. Lion King marks Zimmer’s first and only Academy Award (to date) for Best Original Score.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Lesser-known amongst the critically-acclaimed films on this list, Kung Fu Panda proves Hans Zimmer’s talents are not limited to gritty action flicks. Strings, flutes, cymbals and gongs make for a marvellous musical rendition of ancient China. ‘Oogway Ascends’ is a masterpiece (really).
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
The Hollywood composer is also no stranger to the video-game industry. Remember the Modern Warfare 2 main theme? Yeah, also Hans Zimmer. A cheat to this list, but nonetheless an important achievement to recognise his mastery of all mediums.
Man of Steel (2013), True Romance (1993), Rain Man (1988), Black Hawk Down (2001)