The best film music from the master

Many aspects of a film contribute to its success. Things like the acting, the script, the directors, the special effects, and the music should all work together to create a beautiful work of art. Although every aspect of a film is important, there is a lot of pressure on the film’s composer to create the perfect soundtrack. Indeed, for many movies, the musical score is more than just a backdrop as it sets the tone, sets the mood, and even hints at things to come. Although the music can be subtle, no film is usually complete without its musical score.

Like every other job in Hollywood, there is no shortage of film composers. However, apart from John Williams’ best scores, few are as well known and have as many masterpieces as Hans Zimmer. Hans Zimmer has had an impressive career that spans over 30 years and is still going strong, as evidenced by the composer’s second Academy Award for Best Original Score for the recent Dunes.

This musical master has proven his skills in over 150 films, ranging from action-adventure to romantic comedy, horror and everything in between. In addition to his two Oscars for Best Original Score for Dunes (2021) and the Lion King (1994), his 10 Oscar nominations include Interstellar (2014), The preacher’s wife (1996), and rain man (1988), which was his first major breakthrough. While it is impossible to list all of his film and film achievements, today we count Hans Zimmer’s best musical scores to date.

8 The road to El Dorado


The brothers in a boat in Road to El Dorado
DreamWorks Pictures

The road to El Dorado is a fun and colorful animated film from DreamWorks Animation. While the film may have been a box office flop and failed to resonate with audiences, its poor performance doesn’t take away from its splendid soundtrack. The film contains songs written and sung by Sir Elton John, as well as instrumental pieces by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. Steeped in the flavors of Spanish music, the soundtrack perfectly matches the fun, airy and adventurous feel of this film about two Spanish crooks who embark on a quest to find the lost city of gold, El Dorado.

7 Creation


Inception thrown in the street with guns
Warner Bros.

What is real and what is a dream? In Creation, it’s hard to say. This is because there are many layers of the dream realm and some are clear while others are not. Like the film’s convoluted and mind-bending plot, Hans Zimmer’s music perfectly reflects his confusion, creating an emotionally charged soundtrack that reflects a journey through pain, struggle, awakening, clarity, triumph , victory and peace of mind. The score leans heavily on the piano which features prominently throughout the soundtrack and is often the instrument that begins and ends a song, alongside the film’s signature sonic explosions.


6 The black Knight


Joker and Batman cross paths in The Dark Knight
Warner Bros.

As the name suggests, The black Knight is a dark action/adventure film and was one of the last films starring actor Heath Ledger before his sudden passing; it was also the first of five films Zimmer has done with Christopher Nolan, who has a unique approach to sound mixing his movies that some fans love and some fans hate. When composing music for The black Knight, Hans Zimmer discussed that he wanted to focus on the backstory of Bruce Wayne, and the pain and guilt he feels for the murders of his parents.

Related: Best 90s Movie Scores Ranked

This pain and grief is present throughout the soundtrack, leaving the listener with a sense of turmoil, unresolved conflict, and an unsettled feeling. Through the music, Zimmer wanted to portray Bruce’s unresolved pain and inability to see himself as a hero. Instead, he still sees himself as that scared little boy the night his parents died many years ago.


5 The Lion King


Lion King
waltz disney

Hans Zimmer can do it all. Action films, war dramas, romantic comedies and even animated films for children. This film score beautifully captures the spirit of Simba, an adventurous bear cub who learns the true meaning of being king by protecting those he loves. The Lion Kingit’s The opening song, “The Circle of Life”, is perhaps one of the most iconic opening musical moments of all time. It uses African songs, thus setting the tone for the rest of the film. The end of the song, a dramatic drumbeat, is probably the most impactful part. However, Zimmer said that he kicked off that drumbeat at the last minute as he rushed to finish the song in time for his directors to hear. The rest is history, as Zimmer won the Oscar for Best Original Score for his work on this beloved Disney classic.


4 Gladiator


Gladiator Russell Crowe stands with open arms
DreamWorks Distribution LLC

Although Zimmer is a brilliant brain himself, collaborations often lead to even more mind-blowing work. Such is the case with Gladiator. From Lisa Gerrard’s soulful vocals in “Sorrow” to the epic drumbeats in “The Battle,” every note of this Oscar-winning masterpiece is flawless. In the early 2000s, female voices were one of the defining sounds in movies and appeared in dozens, including the the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars prequel trilogy, and The passion of Christ, which is a historical film like Gladiator. However, Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard take the female voice to a whole new level with their “Now We Are Free” theme song, which remains a hallmark of the film to this day.

3 sherlock holmes


Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes points a gun
Pictures from Warner Bros.

One of the things that Hans Zimmer commonly uses in his films is a leitmotif or, for Merriam Webster“A phrase or associated melodic figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation.” sherlock holmes has one that often appears whenever he’s looking for a clue, looking for a clue, or just drunk as usual. The leitmotif is Holmes’ identity in the music. Jack Sparrow also has one in Pirates of the Caribbean. Just like the dreaded two-note leitmotif “duh-duh, duh-duh” in Jaws, leitmotivs are effective ways to introduce characters, build tension, and hint at things to come. Every time we hear the leitmotif in Sherlock Holmes, we can be sure that Holmes is about to do something detective and epic.


2 Dunes


Timothée Chalamet and a sandworm in Dune
Legendary Pictures

As mentioned earlier, Hans Zimmer recently won an Oscar for Best Original Score for his work for the 2021 sci-fi/adventure film Dunes, and it’s easy to see why. The soundtrack is eerie and unsettling, perfectly matching the otherworldly feel of the film. Unlike many movie soundtracks, Dunes is an electronic score, not an orchestral score, based on a unique blend of choir, world music, rock, electronic sounds and even singing, whispering and shouting.

Related: Composer Hans Zimmer Wins Second Oscar for Dune

When composing the music, Zimmer said he even traveled to the desert to test the sounds. “I actually went to the desert,” Zimmer said Variety. “There was a time when I disappeared into Monument Valley and the desert of Utah and Arizona to check the truth of my ideas. How does the wind howl through the rocks? How does the Does the sand creak in your teeth? It’s just vastness and infinity.


1 Pirates of the Caribbean


The cast of Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow brandishing guns in the middle
Buena Vista Photos Cast

Perhaps Hans Zimmer’s best-known work is the musical score he composed for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It’s safe to say that the movies wouldn’t be the same without the famous score. A film’s soundtrack must capture the voices and themes of the characters, and Zimmer’s work beautifully encapsulates the drunken and eccentric character of Jack Sparrow, the horrors of the cursed, undead pirate crew, and the love between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. Plus, the soundtrack intertwined with pirates, and it’s virtually impossible to think of swashbuckling scoundrels or epic sea voyages without thinking of Zimmer’s soundtrack work on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.


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