Music Break: Top Five Favorite Hans Zimmer Scores

Happy Tuesday, folks. I don’t have much time to blog today but I thought I’d highlight one of my favorite composers, Hans Zimmer, who turned 54 yesterday.

Ever so prolific with over 140 works under his belt, including movies, TV and even video games, the German native is known for using tribal/ethnic sounding elements in his music like he did in Gladiator, Prince of Egypt, etc., as well as skillfully mixing synthesizer with actual music instruments.

Just some trivia of the renowned composer per IMDb:

Zimmer entered the world of film music in London during a long collaboration with famed composer and mentor Stanley Myers, which included the film My Beautiful Laundrette (1985). He soon began work on several successful solo projects, including the critically acclaimed A World Apart, and during these years Zimmer pioneered the use of combining old and new musical technologies.

A turning point in Zimmer’s career came in 1988 when he was asked to score Rain Man for director Barry Levinson. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year and earned Zimmer his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Score.

I’ve been a fan of Zimmer’s work for some time. Here’s five of my favorite scores from him, with number one being my ultimate favorite:

5. Inception

4. Regarding Henry

3. The Last Samurai

2. Batman Begins

1. Gladiator

Honorable Mentions:

The Dark Knight, The Lion King, The Holiday

So happy belated birthday, Mr Zimmer! Now tell me, what’s your top five favorite music from the composer?


58 thoughts on “Music Break: Top Five Favorite Hans Zimmer Scores

  1. A great tribute to Zimmer, Ruth. He also remains one of my favorites. I have 4 main Pandora stations that I listen to: John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, and Hans Zimmer! and I listen to Zimmer’s the most!

    My top 5 of his? hmm…Gladiator, The Lion King, Batman Begins, Inception, and Pirates of the Caribbean…and many more!

    Happy belated bday Hans!

    1. I’m not familiar w/ Silvestri’s work, which soundtracks did he do? The other two are great of course, especially Williams. Y’know I like Pirates score but I think Zimmer sort of ripped it off from his own work in Gladiator.

      1. agreed Ruth, on the POTC soundtrack, but believe it or not I think he did with POTC what he couldnt with Gladiator. So many of the tracks on the Gladiator soundtrack are super long, some tracks are real quiet or drawn out and though appropriate for Gladiator I prefer the tempo and feel of POTC’s soundtrack a little more!

        Alan Silvestri did Back to the Future, Contact, Forrest Gump, The Mummy Returns, The Polar Express, and countless others. I think you’re more familiar with his work than you might have realized! 🙂

        1. Ok I guess I have heard some of his music but I guess they’re not that memorable to me, that’s why I don’t go out of my way to find out who made ’em, ahah.

        2. Silvestri also did The Abyss… one of my favs. He also is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music in Boston, my alma mater. He graduated way before my time though.

          Fun Fact: Paula Cole in fact did graduate in my class (’90). Remember the theme to Dawson’s Creek, “I Don’t Want To Wait”? That was her. Nice girl. Really, really talented. She was the only white girl in the gospel choir they had there. lol. Saw her at Woodstock in ’94 with Peter Gabriel. She took over for Sinead O’Connor after she left.

  2. Great musical score tribute, Ruth! Certainly, your top three and #5 would be on my list. I’d round mine out with his work in ‘Black Hawk Down’. The honorable mentions would include ‘Tears of the Sun’ and the guiltiest of pleasures of ‘King Arthur’ and ‘The Rock’ ;-).

    Fun post.

    1. Thanks Michael, glad you share my love for Zimmer. I haven’t seen the first two movies you mentioned, but oh yeah, I love The Rock… and I don’t feel guilty liking it 🙂

  3. Funny, I just posted a Q&A about favorite use of music in movies. I didn’t mention Hans Zimmer as my favorites but certainly, I love him as a composer as well as most of his work ranging from The Rock, Blackhawk Down all the way to Gladiator.

  4. Zimmer really is one of Hollywood’s greatest composers. Ennio Morricone, Vangelis and John Williams are others who come to mind, particulary the latter.

    The Gladiator score is beautiful. ‘Now We Are Free’ always makes me shiver!

  5. Happy belated birthday, Hans Zimmer.

    Love that man, as well. GLADIATOR and LAST SAMURAI are two of my top most listened to scores. This man, next to the awesome James Newton Howard, are friggin’ geniuses.

    One small problem though: he didn’t write “Mind Heist.” That trailer music was conceived by some kid named Zack M-something.You’ll find his name rather effortlessly via Google. He also just came out with his own CD of epic-ish music. But bloody hell, yes, that is one awesome track.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Andy,

      About “Mind Heist” yeah it belongs to Zack Hemsey, here’s his site:, I’ve been following his work for a while and when Inception’s trailer came out last summer, everyone thought it was Zimmer’s score. Thankfully some movie site gave a shout out to Zack and I don’t think he’s offended that everyone thought the theme was Zimmer’s, in fact he got more work after the trailer of Inception came out. Now his “Mind Heist” has been use many times, including in the new Madden 2012 video game.

      1. Ooops, sorry for the snafu. Thanks guys for pointing that out, I was in a hurry posting this and grabbed the wrong score. I like Mind Heist but I should include the main theme that was rightfully Zimmer’s, so I’ve swapped it out. Glad they went with Zack’s music for the trailer, it made it really memorable and intriguing.

      1. Dream is collapsing and why so serious(from the dark knight soundtrack). The other 3 move songs i have is The Game has changed(From the Tron legacy soundtrack), Requiem for a dream, and requiem for a tower

  6. Looking at Hans Zimmer’s career, it’s crazy that he’s been involved in so many memorable films. I definitely agree with you about Inception and Batman Begins, which both are much better due to their score. I’ll echo others’ praise for the Lion King score. I will say that Zimmer has also been involved with some really over-the-top scores, especially with Pearl Harbor, The Rock, and MI:2. Still, he’s talented and has created some wonderful scores.

    1. Zimmer’s worked with lots of great directors, but that is a testament of his versatility. I was so surprised that he was behind Regarding Henry soundtrack as it sounded so different from other stuff he’s done. I almost couldn’t believe he did Pearl Harbor, soooo cheesy, but hey, I guess it fits the movie as it’s also mawkishly bad 😀

  7. Ted S.

    Like everyone else here, I also love Zimmer’s work. Adding to your list, I’ll go with The Thin Red Line, Crimson Tide, Rain Man, The Dark Knight and True Romance. Looks like he’s working solo on The Dark Knight Rises since James Newton Howard wasn’t listed on the credit, I’m sure he’ll do a great job with Nolan’s final Dark Knight saga.

    1. I almost put TDK together w/ Batman Begins but on second thought, I really think I like his other work more than TDK. But BB’s soundtrack is one of my all time favorite, I guess it echoes my feeling about the film too as I like BB more than TDK. I can’t wait to hear his work in TDKR! (Wow that is a lot of abbreviations, ahah)

    1. I was gonna put The Thin Red Line on Honorable Mention, sheesh, it’s an oversight on my part. That is interesting about the Edith Piaf connection as Marion Cottilard is in Inception. I heard that it’s actually a coincidence?

      1. I too read that it was a coincidence (Nolan using a Piaf tune and Cotillard playing Piaf (and winning the Oscar)), and that after Nolan cast Cotillard, he was going to pick another song, but decided not to. i wish i could remember where i saw that.

  8. I really like how you focus so much on ALL parts of making a film here at FlixChatter, Ruth- editing, cinematography, score… It’s a part of what keeps me coming back!

  9. How can i choose? They are all great for different reasons.

    I will however put my bag down in the INCEPTION camp. It was the score in this film that made it for me!!

    Great little list matey!

      1. So true Ruth. To my discredit I haven’t given much thought to my favourite composers – the obvious one would be John Williams but this article certainly highlights just how much admiration I have for Zimmer. I was listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean score earlier – that’s superb too.

  10. No mention of Pirates?! I know Klaus Badelt claims it but there’s more than a little Zimmer in there
    I love Hans Zimmer, but he’s a nightmare for self-plagiarism. Same theme is used in Rain Man, Gladiator, Pirates and El Dorado.

    1. I did mention Pirates in the comment, but no it won’t be on my list as it’s so similar to Gladiator but not as good. I guess self-plagiarism is fine once in a while but I didn’t know he’s done it so often. Ah well, he’s still brilliant I think.

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  12. I think I prefer his music in KING ARTHUR – a bad film with outstanding music score, especially BREAK THE ICE song.
    But me and my penguins love his MADAGASCAR work most, naturally 🙂

    1. I have to take a listen to King Arthur again, I didn’t remember much of it when I saw it ages ago. He did Madagascar too? Wow, he’s really versatile.

      1. he did both Madagascars and he’s doing the third one too 🙂
        It was probably fun and relaxing to him using new exotic sounds and fun melodies in the animated film.

  13. Great list Ruth, Zimmer is a legend isn’t he? I didn’t even know he did Inception. Didn’t he score the Pirates movies as well? My favourite of you list would be Gladiator because it some atmosphric and mirrors the mood of the film. I like the inception one because it is so different. Did Zimmer do The Dark Knight too, loved that.

      1. He worked with Danny Boyle on The 28 Days Later movies, Millions, and Sunshine. Also withGuy Ritchie on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Recently he did Kick-Ass for Matthew Vaughn who produced Guy Richie’s movies above.

        My favorite composers would be Nyman (Piano), Glass (The Thin Blue Line), Newman (American Beauty) Morricone (Cinema Paradiso) and Gerrard (Whale Rider).

        Favorite soundtracks. The Mission (Morricone), Children Of A Lesser God (Corigliano), The Last Temptation Of Christ (P. Gabriel), Last Of The Mohicans (T. Jones), Men Don’t Leave (Newman), Amélie (Tiersen), Gattaca (Nyman), The Thin Red Line (Zimmer), The Social Network (Reznor), Time Out (Pook) and Requiem For A Dream (Kronos Quartet).

        Being a musician my soundtrack collection is quite extensive.


  14. Those are some great scores. I too really like the man’s music. Though my own personal favourite scores and composers are lesser known ones. Great list. It must’ve been hard to choose just five.

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