I’m a huge fan of the compositions of Hans Zimmer, the German musician and composer known for his soundtracks for movies such as Gladiator, The Thin Red Line, Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, 12 years a slave and Inception.
Zimmer aims for a minimalist sound with grand production. 4-5 chord motifs explored with great dynamism by orchestral players and innovative arrangements. I’m not alone in my admiration for Zimmer as his critically celebrated works have garnered him four Grammy Awards, three Classical BRIT Awards, two Golden Globes, and an Academy Award.
His creative relationship with Christopher Nolan has proved particularly fertile including his work on the Dark Knight Trilogy. but not even Nolan gave him the free rein he received from legendary auteur-director Terence Malick who played the music on set during the arduous filming of his war epic, The Thin Red Line. Malick let Zimmer’s score set the tone for each scene, instructing.
In my opinion, his most successful score is his development of the themes within the Thin Red Line for the psychological thriller Inception. The movie simply wouldn’t work so well without Zimmer’s score which moves to each beat of the plot and beautifully punctuates the shifts from action to introspection that take places throughout the movie. The use of an electronically distorted and slowed version of Piaf’s most celebrated song Non, je ne regret rien is a delicious piece of whimsy.
The standout musical works in Inception, for me, are The Dream is Collapsing” and the closing piece “Time”. Nolan’s movie is fantastic in my opinion but I can’t imagine it with another score. I’ve often felt that when reviewers write glowingly about some movie scenes they’re actually paying homage to the music choice, for instance the use of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs in the movie Fearless.