Hans Zimmer

12 Years a Slave Violin

12 Years a Slave tackles many issues throughout its narrative, doing so in the elegant and unflinchingly honest way only director Steve McQueen can deliver. Hans Zimmer’s score works well to reflect the action on screen, playing almost like a horror score at times, but music becomes more than just something accenting the background and driving the emotion, it is also a major part of the story. Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a violinist and his talents have not only helped provide him a comfortable life, they have made him a respected member of his community. Solomon is certainly skilled, but it is also clear that he simply loves to play. Unfortunately, that love leads him down a path that changes his life forever. In Saratoga, New York, Solomon is a free man who plays for pleasure and additional income, but once he is kidnapped and shipped south, all the talents and skills that made him a valued member of society could now get him killed. Freeman (Paul Giamatti), the slave trader in charge of getting the highest price for his latest “stock,” quickly utilizes Solomon’s talents and has him play during his human auction as those around him are sold off and families are ruthlessly broken apart. The idea that upbeat music would keep those being sold and separated seem less upsetting is the first glimpse both Solomon and audiences get of the logic existing south of the Mason-Dixon line. The image of Solomon playing as people scream for […]

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true romance hopper

Tony Scott‘s True Romance is probably one of my top ten all-time favorite movies, which is kind of weird since Badlands is one of my top five all-time favorite films. Or maybe it’s appropriate that this is the case. I’m sure that one of the reasons I fell in love with this movie is because of how directly it’s inspired by and references the earlier Terrence Malick film. Notice I make the distinction between movies and films. Scott made movies, Malick makes films. Scott also made a movie I like that directly references another of my all-time favorite films (Enemy of the State –> The Conversation). I was sad when Scott died particularly because I was hoping he’d eventually cover all my top shelf titles (just imagine what he could have done with Duck Soup!). Then again, maybe he’d have just redone himself, the way he did with Domino, which is like a bad remake of True Romance. Anyway, True Romance turns 20 years old this week. Warner Bros. released the movie on September 10, 1993, and it came in at #3 for its opening weekend, behind reigning champ The Fugitive and fellow newcomer Undercover Blues (uh?). In honor of the anniversary, let’s take a look at some scenes we love. It was hard to narrow down, of course, so we went with major character moments.

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mos-soundtrack-limited

Amazon is now accepting pre-orders for the Man of Steel soundtrack from Hans Zimmer, so they’ve made a track listing and a few samples available. There’s nothing breathtakingly surprising here. Zimmer is that rare combination of artist and workhorse, and his style is set in synth stone even if it hasn’t completely ossified. That’s a relevant issue considering that he’s effectively taking over the baton from the legendary John Williams — a man who produced dozens of iconic songs but who has become a bit static after, you know, seven decades of writing movie music. Zimmer brings a bit of freshness here. The percussive intensity that we heard in Inception, the lilting tones of metal on metal, some bombastic brassy moments. The only question is how much of it will be copied by trailer editors. You can find the track listing below, and those that are super sensitive about story beats as spoilers may want to steer clear:

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Aural Fixation - Large

It’s in the title – The Odd Life of Timothy Green is, well, odd. But it is those oddities and the unexpected twists and turns that make this story memorable. Timothy (CJ Adams) is not your average child so bringing this character and his world to life required composer Geoff Zanelli to think outside of the box. Organic materials like dirt, wood, and leaves (of course) play a big part in not just Timothy, but all the character’s lives (and their futures) so it is no surprise that Zanelli took a more stripped down and inventive approach when creating the music for this film. Zanelli’s score is both magical and jaunty, much like Timothy himself, and creates a unique texture that helps make some of the more “out there” moments of the film still feel grounded in real emotion. I spoke with Zanelli about how he approached creating this score, what inspired him throughout the process, and what went in to creating music that sounded both familiar and new.

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Aural Fixation - Large

With temperatures on the rise and Comic-Con officially over, there is one place comic book fans can still find solace in the middle of these hot summer months – your local movie theaters. Christopher Nolan is poised to complete his epic Batman trilogy with the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, set to hit theaters this weekend. Not only will Christian Bale be returning as Gotham’s caped crusader, he will once again be joined by his trusty butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), his business manager/tech wizard, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and Batman champion, Commission Gordon (Gary Oldman) – to name a few. And in true Nolan fashion, some other faces familiar to the director’s work will help round out this final battle with Inception alums Tom Hardy taking on the villain role as Bane and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as hopeful police officer, John Blake. But Nolan’s affinity for working with those he has before does not stop at the cast. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight composer Hans Zimmer (whose score for Inception was one of the most memorable of 2010) returns to finish out the trilogy as well. While most of us will have to wait until this Friday (or for you late-nighters, Thursday at midnight) to see the conclusion of this heroic tale, Zimmer’s score (now available) takes us there now.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a vicious diatribe away from being a vicious diatribe. But mostly it tells you the who, what, where, when and why so serious of the movie world. We begin tonight with a cry for help, from a Mother of Dragons who is without the latter half of her title. Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen needs your help. If you see her dragons, send a raven.

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Aural Fixation - Large

I probably listen to more scores than most people (or even most film fans) do and I realized that while the various scores filling my iTunes range from action (LOUD NOISES!) to drama (sad guitars) to comedy (funny guitars!) one fact remains consist across the board – the majority of these scores are composed by men. In a time where the ladies are starting to make their presence more and more known in film (which, let’s be honest, has been a veritable boy’s club up until the past few decades) with Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director for 2008’s The Hurt Locker to the ladies of Bridesmaids taking some of the raunchy comedy heat from the boys, it surprised me to see such a lack of a female presence when it came to who creates the music for these films. I am a lady and I (clearly) have a passion for music and know girls have just as much musical talent as the guys – so why is my gender lacking in the “Original Music by” section of IMDb? As I started looking into this question, I began to realize that the majority of female composers seemed to be working in television. Women seem to be much more prominent in the world of TV with The Chop Shop’s Alexandra Patsavas (who has placed the music for shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Chuck, and Gossip Girl) practically ruling the role of music supervisor and the duo of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (“Wendy & Lisa”) composing the music for popular shows such […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

Whether purposely sending a helicopter into the eye of a tornado or believing you are a real life fairy tale character, it seems that no matter what films oriented towards the younger generation may be about (or who my star in them), the music featured in these films is not only well done, it is also (maybe more surprisingly) impressive. This fact is proven most handily in animated films like How To Train Your Dragon (with a score composed by John Powell) and Rango (composed by Hans Zimmer) which had the kind of full-bodied, moving sound you would expect to hear in an Academy Award winning film rather than a movie aimed at kids. That’s probably why Powell got his first Oscar nomination for Dragon. Granted Powell and Zimmer are accomplished composers in their own right and regardless of the genre they work in, their music is sure to be impressive, but lesser known composers working on these types of films also seem to create music that stands out. This question has come up several times, as each kid-oriented film would be entertaining enough, but the music would always stand out the most. This question came to the forefront of again while I was watching Journey 2: The Mysterious Island this past week and could not deny that even though The Rock was riding a giant bee with Luis Guzmán holding on for dear life behind him, the music driving the action was decidedly impressive. Composer Andrew Lockington was the […]

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The Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows junket included a massive press conference that featured so much talent from the sequel to Guy Ritchie‘s 2009 film that they needed to be arranged in stadium seating, including stars Robert Downey Jr., Noomi Rapace, and Jared Harris, director Ritchie, producers Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, and Susan Downey, screenwriters Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, and composer Hans Zimmer. Jude Law couldn’t make it because, as RDJ put it, “his son had a soccer game.” For forty-five minutes, the group fielded questions from the Los Angeles press (let’s be honest, Downey fielded questions from the press, frequently begging for someone to toss a query at one of the nine other people sitting around and behind him), and all the microphone-grabbing and cracks at banter did yield some interesting tidbits. Mainly, a story about Hans Zimmer essentially kidnapping thirteen gypsies, but that’s for later. After the break, break out your steampunk-inspired magnifying glasses and try to follow along, Watson, as we investigate the case of the eleven things we learned at the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows press conference.

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. There are few categories as enigmatic as Best Score. What do voters even consider when marking their ballots? Which music was the best? Which music aided the film the most? How many synthesizers and tribal drums were used? That mystery is part of the complexity which speaks to how difficult film scoring is and how truly transcendent the music of movies can be. It’s a diverse field this year, but there can be only one. With my proposed winner in red, here are the nominees:

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Do yourself a favor and blow this video up to full screen, throw it on HD and let the combination of intense visuals (courtesy of some insane time-lapse photography of our own planet Earth) and the mammoth, sweeping score that Hans Zimmer put together for Christopher Nolan’s Inception (specifically the track “Dream is Collapsing”) wash over you. The video, assembled by Mike Flores, presents some stunning landscapes of our fair planet with an awe-inspiring eye. And when the score is mixed in, it feels as if we’re watching the birth of life itself. That Hans Zimmer, it’s as if he were meant to score the great moments of humanity or something. Or maybe just every Chris Nolan movie. It’s about the same. [via Gizmodo]

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If you read my review of Inception not long ago, you know that I sung the praises of Christopher Nolan and his cast. Inception was an incredible film, almost flawless in its execution, and just plain fun in every conceivable way. After the film, I had the opportunity to participate in the Inception Press Junket — almost the entire cast on stage, and hear all about the development of the film — from concept, to production, and music — I’ve got some behind the scenes goodness to share with you today.

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There’s a musical quality when Hans Zimmer speaks. Sometimes stammering his way through sentences, the native German sounds equal parts Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Jeremy Irons in Die Hard with a Vengeance. All of that is lifted by a sunshine sense of humor that seems to get out in front of him and lead the way. Over a three decade career, Zimmer has built a reputation for quality in film scoring. It could easily be said that he’s had the privilege of working with some of the best directors in the business, but it could just as easily be said that it is they who have had the privilege of working with him. His most recent work can be heard through the booms, haunting piano keys, and ever-present synth modulations that support Leonardo Dicaprio as he steals around the dreams of Inception. Yesterday, it was I who had the privilege of speaking with the composer about the fear inherent in every new job, the connective tissue between Japanese electropop and Russian choirs, and what he’s trying to say with his music.

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Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

When I look back through this past year, one film easily rises above the rest in the realm of soundtrack: The Dark Knight. The following video gives us a behind the soundboard look at the creation of The Joker’s theme.

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The musical score from The Dark Knight is still getting play on my music list, now it’s going to get a chance at an Academy Award.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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