One of Hollywood’s most prolific composers since his work on 1988 film “Rain Man,” German-born Hans Zimmer had his roots in rock ’n’ roll. Perhaps that’s why he finds volume something worthy of bragging about.
" 'Inception' is probably the loudest score ever," he proclaimed to The Times. One could debate whether that is a point worth boasting about, but it's unlikely that anyone who saw Christopher Nolan's 2010 blockbuster-for-thinkers left the theater without noticing the composer's contribution. In the dream-within-a-dream heist film, Zimmer's score alternated between tones melancholic and nightmarish, and received a pair of exclamation points in the form of bellowing, foghorn-like moans. The sound, which comes off as something of a tortured trombone, was, like much of the rest of Zimmer's scores, born in a computer. Yet, in a film in which what is and isn't authentic is always in question, the German composer didn't want the music to have a mechanical feel. The solution? Explode the score, with volume on full, across the Warner Bros. Burbank lot.
"There's a certain quality you get with real light and real air, as opposed to completely simulated," Zimmer says. " 'Inception' is very much an electronic score. There had to be a stage where it was integrated into the real world. We blasted it through speakers, and we had mikes set up all over Warner Bros. We recorded so that it had a way of traveling into the real world and then traveling back into the film. It makes the unreal real."
Such grandiose experiments aren't uncommon for Zimmer. Working since the mid-’90s out of the labyrinthine offices that house his Remote Control Productions in Santa Monica, Zimmer has a team of experts, apprentices and engineers at his disposal. Zimmer has long prided himself on working closely with other musicians. His first prominent gig, for instance, was as a member of the New Wave band the Buggles, an act best known for its 1979 hit “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Zimmer in the early ’80s worked frequently as a producer, and his film scoring career began in earnest when he partnered with London-based composer Stanley Myers. The pair worked on numerous films throughout the decade, including 1982’s “Moonlighting” and 1985’s “My Beautiful Launderette.” Zimmer’s ability to meld electronics with orchestras attracted director Barry Levinson to the composer, who tapped Zimmer for “Rain Man,” which earned Zimmer an Academy Award nomination.
Zimmer became a go-to composer after “Rain Man,” often working on three to five films per year, and sometimes more. Among his credits are 1990’s “Days of Thunder,” 1996’s “The Rock,” 1997’s “Face/Off,” 1998’s “The Prince of Egypt,” 2005’s “Batman Begins” and 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” In the 2000s, Zimmer has become closely associated with “Batman Begins” and “Inception” director Nolan.
By 2010, Zimmer’s Santa Monica home for his Remote Control Productions has offices for at least 15 composers. When asked about his company, Zimmer has talked as if he’s on a mission. "More so than ever, with the economy so bad and with the record business not existing anymore, where on earth can orchestral players earn a living?" he told The Times in 2010. "I take that very seriously. I think it is important Hollywood commissions orchestral pieces on a daily basis. They are the Archbishop of Salzburg of today," he said, referring to the early Mozart patron.
|1988||Best Original Score||Rain Man||Nomination|
|1994||Best Original Score||The Lion King||Win|
|1996||Best Original Musical or Comedy Score||The Preacher's Wife||Nomination|
|1998||Best Original Dramatic Score||The Thin Red Line||Nomination|
|1998||Best Original Musical or Comedy Score||The Prince of Egypt||Nomination*|
|2000||Best Original Score||Gladiator||Nomination|
|2009||Best Original Score||Sherlock Holmes||Nomination|
|2010||Best Original Score||Inception||Nomination|