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Section Header
Hans Zimmer
(1957-)
Reviews in Filmtracks'
Top 100 Traffic Ranks:
#1.  Gladiator
#5.  Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
#13.  The Lion King
#33.  The Prince of Egypt
#36.  The Rock
#41.  Pearl Harbor
#44.  Crimson Tide
#49.  Mission: Impossible 2
#55.  Black Hawk Down
#59.  Hannibal
#65.  The Last Samurai
#70.  The Thin Red Line
#79.  Batman Begins
#100.  The Peacemaker
(updated daily)

Scores in Filmtracks'
Top 100 Voting Ranks:
#32.  Crimson Tide
#52.  The Lion King
#63.  The Prince of Egypt
(updated daily)

Filmtracks Editor's Recommendations:
Backdraft
The Lion King
Beyond Rangoon
Crimson Tide
The Prince of Egypt
Hannibal

Related Page of Interest:
Hans Zimmer: The Wings of a Film
(2001, concert performance compilation)

Biography:
Born September 12th, 1957 in Frankfurt, Germany, Hans Zimmer is a pioneer in the use of digital synthesizers, advanced computer technology, electronic keyboards and their successful integration with the traditional orchestra in music for film and television. Moving to London in the 1970's, Zimmer began composing jingles for "Air Edel Associates" and teamed up with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes as "The Buggles" to produce the worldwide hit, Video Killed the Radio Star and subsequent album The Age of Plastic. By 1980, Zimmer was pioneering the use of computers live on stage while working with the group Ultravox. Then he enjoyed a period of stardom in Italy with the avant garde band "Krisma" before returning to London to develop his next project with Warren Cann of Ultravox, culminating in a series of unique concerts at the London Planetarium.

It was shortly after this that Zimmer met and began working with the film composer Stanley Myers. Realizing the importance of incorporating the two musical forms, electronic and classical, they set up "Lillie Yard Studio" in London with the very latest state of the art musical technology. Zimmer continued to work out of "Lille Yard Studio" as his partnership with Myers strengthened. They worked very successfully on Jerzy Skolimovshi's Moonlighting, Success is the Best Revenge and The Lightship, Nicholas Roeg's Insignificance, and The Castaway. They then went on the compose the music for the box office hit My Beautiful Launderette (Best Picture - Evening Standard Awards).

In 1986, he worked solo on Working Title's Vardo and he then went on to partner with Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Byrne to produce the soundtrack for the award winning epic The Last Emperor. This was followed by another teaming with Stanely Myers for the score to Nature and the Beast. He then wrote scores for Philip Saville's Wonderland and Paperhouse for director Bernard Rose at Working Title. For Vestron, he then composed the music for the Faye Dunaway, Klaus Maria Brandauer feature Burning Secret. In 1988 he was asked to compose the music for a small budget, ground breaking film about South Africa, A World Apart. Based on a true story, this film was not just a coming of age for the voice of the struggle, but a turning point in Zimmer's career. As a result, he was asked to write the Oscar nominated score for the box office smash Rain Man. The following year, he composed the scores for Ridley Scott's Black Rain and another Best Picture recipient, Driving Miss Daisy.

Zimmer would go on to score Paramount's race car drama Days of Thunder, John Schlesinger's Pacific Heights, Peter Weir's GreenCard (Golden Globe for Best Comedy), Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise, Ron Howard's fireman epic, Backdraft, Richard Donner's film Radio Flyer, and Franc Roddman's mountaineering thriller, K-2. John Avildsen's The Power of One allowed Zimmer a unique opportunity to write both songs and music with a South African lyricist to create haunting tribal anthems. In 1992-1993, Zimmer would contribute to Penny Marshall's A League of Their Own and Calendar Girl, Barry Levingson's Toys (a score overshadowed by Enya songs), Point of No Return, True Romance, and he finished with the Disney surprise hit Cool Runnings, which did blistering business at both the box office and in the charts. Around his Academy Award winning success for The Lion King, Zimmer completed Bille Augusts' House of the Spirits, Nine Months (for which he wrote the theme before production started) and Something to Talk About.

Two enormously popular soundtracks by Zimmer were released in 1995. The score for John Boorman's Beyond Rangoon combines ethnic pipes and voice with synthesizer. Later in the year, the submarine thriller Crimson Tide was a huge success at the box office and Zimmer received high praise for his choral, action-packed score (including a Grammy win). Zimmer responded by writing a wealth of material for seven films in 1996, by far his most active. John Woo's Broken Arrow would have cues reused in the blockbuster film Scream. He next wrote two themes for the summer hit The Rock with Harry Gregson-Williams and produced a short recording for The Fan. His score for The Preacher's Wife, unreleased on commercial album, was nominated for an Academy Award, and he continued with what he considers his best score, Two Deaths. Other releases of the year included The Whole Wide World and Muppet Treasure Island. After contributing to Smilla's Sense of Snow, Zimmer's career hit an even higher gear, with the 1997 electronic score for The Peacemaker showing off his high octane, powerful synthesizer and choral writing in full force.

The 1997-1998 awards season represented the peak of Zimmer's award recognition in the decade. After a sweet score for As Good As It Gets, Zimmer would coordinate the massive DreamWorks musical The Prince of Egypt and finish 1998 with The Thin Red Line. While all three were nominated for Academy Awards, none of them won. After a break from large projects in 1999, Zimmer hit the charts running once again with The Road to El Dorado, Mission: Impossible 2, and the monumentally successful Gladiator for Ridley Scott in 2000. The latter two featured compositions and performances by Lisa Gerrard which launched record sales to a level that would ensure Zimmer comfortable wealth for his lifetime. After completing An Everlasting Piece for a fee of $1, he would enter the world of Hannibal and offer yet another album success. Later in 2001, Zimmer provided the music for Pearl Harbor, which was met with criticism and was overshadowed by the main song of the film, and Black Hawk Down, which was generally considered too experimental for mainstream listeners.

After teaming with Bryan Adams for yet another animated picture in 2002, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Zimmer dove head-first into The Ring, which offered him a long-awaited opportunity to further establish himself in the horror genre. He continues collaborating with his Media Ventures colleagues well into the 2000's, with the ethnically charged Tears of the Sun and The Last Samurai in 2003. Among the projects that Zimmer almost scored in the past decade, but didn't, included 1492: Conquest of Paradise (Vangelis), The Client (Howard Shore), and Enemy of the State (Harry Gregson-Williams).




Additional Quotes:
"My job is to look for something that doesn't exist yet in the film. I work a lot with friends --like Penny Marshall or Tony Scott-- so when Tony starts a movie, I know about it years before it starts shooting, and I hear the story every time I see him. So when I see the movie I find out what's left of the story he told me about, and what actually happened while he was shooting. And then I try to get back to the original reason why we were doing that movie. With music, you can express things far better, so what you try and do is express the things they haven't done eloquently. 'Yo, motherfucker!' is not a terribly eloquent line; I could write something much better."

"I don't drive, so one of my assistants drives me to my writing room, and I have a calendar on the wall telling me how much time I have left, and how far behind I am. I look at it and panic, and decide which scene to work on. And you sit there plonking notes until something makes sense, and you don't think about it any more. Good tunes come when you're not thinking about it."

"I have all these computers and keyboards and synthesizers, and I rattle away. For instance, with The Lion King I wrote over four hours' worth of tunes, and they were really pretty --but totally meaningless. So in the end I came up with material I liked. We worked on The Lion King for four years, but I wasn't toying until the last three-and-a-half weeks properly. On Crimson Tide, on the other hand, I just went in and within seconds I knew what I wanted."




Hans Zimmer poses at his studio in 1995


"I wake up around noon, light a cigarette, get a cup of coffee, sit in the bathtub for an hour and daydream, and I usually come up with some ideas... It's a very irresponsible life. The only decisions I make are about the notes I'm writing."


Exploding into the world of film music after several years as a member of a 1980's rock band, Hans Zimmer has become a pioneer of the dynamic mix between synthesized and orchestral styles. His scores are broadly thematic, ethnically diverse, and immensly popular with a younger generation of film music fans. His Los Angeles based music studio, Media Ventures, is, as he deems it, a "School of Sound," and offers young, talented composers a place to jump-start their careers in Hollywood. He has collaborated with many of his friends, colleagues, and students for his scores after 1995. "I like working in a collaborative way," he says. "I'm not very ego-driven about being 'The Composer.' Whoever brings in great ideas should be welcomed." These collaborations culminated into an award-winning score for the blockbuster Gladiator in 2000, translating into one of the best selling film score albums of all time.

Zimmer and his producing partner, Jay Rifkin, custom built the Media Ventures studio complex in Santa Monica for the writing and production of music for film, television, and commercials. Composers best known for working with Zimmer are Mark Mancina, John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams, Nick Glennie-Smith, Jeff Rona, Klaus Badelt, and Lisa Gerrard, some of whom travel from around the globe to work on projects for which Zimmer is the primary composer. In addition to his composing work, Zimmer heads DreamWorks' film music division. His appointment marks the first time that a composer has headed the music department of a major studio since the days of Dimitri Tiomkin at MGM and Alfred Newman at Twentieth Century Fox. So large is Zimmer's influence on audiences and potential buyers of film music albums, some record labels put Zimmer's name first and foremost on score albums for which he only played a minor coordinating role.

Zimmer in 1996
Among his roughly 100 feature film works, Zimmer has received major awards nominations for Rain Man, The Lion King, Crimson Tide, The Preacher's Wife, As Good As It Gets, The Prince of Egypt, The Thin Red Line, and Gladiator. While mainstream fans best know Zimmer for his Disney and DreamWorks animated picture scores, fans and industry insiders in the film music world credit Crimson Tide as a turning point in both Zimmer's career and the scoring business. The Grammy-winning score, often heard in trailers since, was a departure from the norm, making use of digital synthesizers, electronic keyboards, and the latest computer technology to digitally produce a rousing score with traditional orchestral arrangements. In the decade since, Zimmer has expanded his use of percussion and vocalists in ethnic and electronic arrays unheard in the history of film music.

His personality is different than those of many other mainstream composers; he is reluctant to perform his work in public, and does not conduct his own scores. Inspired by Ennio Morricone's The Mission, Zimmer is known to peacefully experiment on his Yamaha synthesizers with a cup of coffee nearby. One of his biggest fans (after first hearing Crimson Tide) is director and producer Steven Spielberg, whose friendship and loyalty toward John Williams is perhaps the only reason why Zimmer has not become a regular for Spielberg-directed films. Born in 1957, Zimmer still has many active years of teaching and scoring to come. His innovative integration of digital and orchestral elements will likely earn him continued success well into the digital age of film music.



 Filmography/Reviews at Filmtracks:  

(see legend below for information on abbreviations and codes)
 Title FRVRVT CTRD TR DatesNotes
2014:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (co-wrote)*2.7688946|||1,08105/14all albums
Winter's Tale (co-wrote)***2.671531|||1,52003/14
2013:
12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips (co-wrote) (AW)*1.682496||1,41012/13
Rush (co-wrote)***3.023333||1,46512/13
The Lone Ranger (co-wrote)***3.0553616|||1,09807/13
Man of Steel (co-wrote)*2.552,81482||||54306/13all albums
The Bible (TV) (co-wrote)**1.872916||1,42407/13
2012:
The Dark Knight Rises (co-wrote) (AW)**2.711,721125||||43007/12multiple albums
2011:
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (co-wrote)*2.5064731|||89812/11
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (co-wrote)*1.931,90448||||74705/11
Kung Fu Panda 2 (co-wrote)****3.347668||97305/11
Rango (co-wrote)**2.558432||1,12103/11
The Dilemma (co-wrote)
2010:
How Do You Know
Megamind (co-wrote)****2.811,5115|||1,17010/10
Inception (co-wrote) (AW)**2.993,856153||||27407/10
The Pacific (TV) (co-wrote)***3.271350||1,60607/11
Henri 4 (co-wrote)**2.611241||1,63507/11
2009:
Sherlock Holmes (co-wrote) (AW)***3.071,1939|||76101/10
It's Complicated (co-wrote)***
Angels & Demons (co-wrote)****3.161,41430|||52205/09
2008:
Frost/Nixon (co-wrote) (AW)****3.353196||1,17312/08
The Burning Plain (co-wrote)*
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (co-wrote)**
The Dark Knight (co-wrote) (AW)**2.734,907131||||20507/08 - 04/10multiple albums
Kung Fu Panda (co-wrote)***3.321,0161||71506/08
Casi Divas (co-wrote)***
2007:
The Simpsons Movie (co-wrote)***2.813422||1,11511/07
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (co-wrote)**3.065,520227||||20205/07 - 07/11multiple albums
2006:
The Holiday (co-wrote)***3.105231|90802/07
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (co-wrote) (AW)*2.704,889235||||17507/06 - 07/11multiple albums
The Da Vinci Code (AW)***3.085,243216||||26205/06
2005:
The Weather Man (co-wrote)**
The Little Polar Bear 2: The Mysterious Island (co-wrote)****
Batman Begins (co-wrote)**2.945,898378||||7906/05 - 09/11
Madagascar (co-wrote)*1.951,08839||18205/05 - 09/11
2004:
Spanglish (AW)****3.4268812||67901/05 - 10/11
Lauras Stern (co-wrote)****3.447757||78703/05 - 10/11German
Shark Tale (co-wrote)**
Thunderbirds (co-wrote)***2.8789817|||35907/04 - 10/11
King Arthur (co-wrote)****3.463,257219|||14407/04 - 09/11
2003:
Something's Gotta Give (co-wrote)****2.71892||1,56604/10bootleg
The Last Samurai (AW)****3.783,692206|||6511/03 - 03/09
Matchstick Men***2.9256326|||49610/03 - 03/09
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (co-wrote)*2.8423,1441279|||507/03 - 07/11multiple albums
Tears of the Sun (co-wrote)***2.903,004107|||21503/03 - 03/09
2002:
The Ring (co-wrote)**2.741,42891|||20410/03 - 09/11multiple albums
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (co-wrote) (AW)**3.333,102136|||22705/02 - 01/09
2001:
Riding in Cars With Boys (co-wrote)***
Invincible (co-wrote)****3.444070||89009/03 - 03/09
Black Hawk Down (co-wrote)***2.778,078569|||5501/02 - 01/09
Pearl Harbor (AW)***2.9311,405274|||4105/01 - 01/09
Hannibal (co-wrote)****3.7611,597276|||5902/01 - 10/08
The Pledge (co-wrote)**2.923603||1,03709/03 - 01/09all albums
2000:
An Everlasting Piece (co-wrote)***2.517668||88612/00 - 09/08
Mission: Impossible 2 (co-wrote)**2.7113,181103||4906/00 - 11/07
Gladiator (co-wrote) (AW)***3.5658,270752|||||105/00 - 10/07all albums
The Road to El Dorado (co-wrote)**2.933793|||69010/03 - 03/09all albums
1999:
Chill Factor (co-wrote)**2.121861||1,20410/03 - 04/09bootlegs
1998:
The Thin Red Line (co-wrote) (AW)***3.0810,87810|||7001/99 - 03/08
The Prince of Egypt (co-wrote) (AW)****4.0913,32798||||3312/98 - 03/08all albums
The Last Days (co-wrote)**
The Third Reich (in Color) (TV)
1997:
As Good As It Gets (AW)****3.331,5895|12001/98 - 01/07
R
The Peacemaker****3.232,7663|||10009/97 - 08/14all albums
Smilla's Sense of Snow (co-wrote)**2.912172||72703/97 - 09/11
1996:
The Preacher's Wife (AW)****
The Fan (co-wrote)*2.6523914|||95810/03 - 04/09all albums
The Rock (co-wrote)***3.287,7238|||3609/96 - 02/08
White Squall (co-wrote)
Muppet Treasure Island (co-wrote)***3.4498816||22907/98 - 09/08
Broken Arrow (co-wrote)****3.073102|||1,36510/09 - 03/11all albums
The Whole Wide World (co-wrote)***2.961541||93607/04 - 09/11
1995:
Something to Talk About (co-wrote)***2.81725||1,66404/10
Two Deaths****
Nine Months (co-wrote)***2.891580|43703/97 - 11/11
Crimson Tide (AW)*****4.188,56581|||4409/96 - 01/08
Beyond Rangoon****3.879477||36009/96 - 09/08
1994:
Drop Zone (co-wrote)***2.901111||1,60203/10
The Lion King (co-wrote) (AW)****4.1111,77071|||1309/96 - 01/08all albums
Renaissance Man***3.006132|90008/99 - 04/07
Monkey Trouble (co-wrote)**
I'll Do Anything****2.86900||1,66203/10
1993:
The House of the Spirits****3.604364|39007/98 - 09/08
Cool Runnings (co-wrote)****3.001030||1,57804/10bootleg
True Romance (co-wrote)***adaptation
Calendar Girl***
Younger & Younger (co-wrote)****2.90800||1,68503/10
Point of No Return (co-wrote)****3.191151||1,59703/10
Sniper (co-wrote)
1992:
Toys (co-wrote)**2.673552|||60507/04 - 09/11all albums
A League of Their Own****3.231540||1,53303/10multiple albums
The Power of One****3.211220||1,49203/10
Millennium (co-wrote)***
Radio Flyer****3.443482|||58107/04 - 10/11
1991:
K2 (co-wrote)****2.891180||1,54204/10multiple scores
Where Sleeping Dogs Lie (co-wrote)
To the Moon, Alice (TV)
Regarding Henry (co-wrote)****2.931222|||1,56503/10 - 12/11multiple albums
Thelma & Louise (co-wrote)***3.081611||1,46604/10 - 11/11all albums
Backdraft****3.713,08211|||15509/96 - 03/10all albums
White Fang (co-wrote)****2.90900|||1,60404/12limited
1990:
Green Card****2.94941||1,60903/10
Pacific Heights****3.061270||1,62004/10
Days of Thunder***3.011600|||1,41703/10 - 01/14multiple albums
Fools of Fortune****
Bird on a Wire***
Chicago Joe and the Showgirl
1989:
Driving Miss Daisy (AW)****3.311420||1,48503/10
Dark Obsession (Diamond Skulls)****
Black Rain***3.142652|||1,38203/10 - 10/12multiple albums
Twister
1988:
Paperhouse (co-wrote)***
Burning Secret****
Rain Man (AW)****3.162521|||1,29304/10 - 12/10all albums
Nightmare at Noon (Death Street USA)
A World Apart***
The Fruit Machine***
Taffin
The Nature of the Beast (co-wrote)
Spies Inc.
1987:
Terminal Exposure (Double Exposure)
Comeback (TV)
1986:
Zero Boys
Separate Vacations
Castaway (co-wrote)
The Lightship (co-wrote)
1985:
Wild Horses (TV)
Insignificance (co-wrote)***
1984:
Success is the Best Revenge (co-wrote)
1983:
The Story of O: Part 2***
Eureka (co-wrote)
1982:
Moonlighting (co-wrote)
(reviews listed with a "co-wrote" indicate that either the composer wrote the score with another person or that more than one composer worked separately to provide a score for the production)


Legend:
Status:
N
- indicates a new review that has been published in the last 90 days
R
- indicates an older review that has been significantly revised in the last 90 days
Awards: AW - indicates that the music won or was nominated for a major award
Ratings: FR - Filmtracks Rating ("Varied" indicates a split rating with no overall designation)
VR - Viewer Rating (overall average)
VT - Vote Total (for viewer ratings)
Comments: Comment Total (the number of messages posted in the review's comment area)
Review Depth: ||||| - Massive Review (over 4,000 words)
|||| - Very Long Review (between 2,200 and 4,000 words)
||| - Long Review (between 1,200 and 2,200 words)
|| - Average Review (between 800 and 1,200 words)
| - Short Review (under 800 words)
Traffic Rank: Popularity Rank (lower numbers indicate more cumulative reads; new reviews take time to climb the ranks)
Dates: 1st - indicates the month and year during which the review was first published
2nd - indicates the month and year of the review's most recent significant revision (if any)


   
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