Best Hans Zimmer Scores, From Inception to Lion King - VRGyani News and Media


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Best Hans Zimmer Scores, From Inception to Lion King

Hans Zimmer has an incredible discography. He has been composing since the 1980s and throughout his career, he has composed some of the most iconic movie music of all time. He also is incredibly versatile as he has composed the music for movies across all genres. Whether it’s a sci-fi action movie or an animated Disney film, Zimmer’s score always makes a movie feel more epic.

Some movies even feel incomplete without his work. A Christopher Nolan movie without Zimmer—or even a score inspired by the composer, like the work of Ludwig Göransson—just feels wrong. His accolades speak for themselves as he has been nominated for ten Academy Awards and, criminally, has only won one. With Zimmer's Dune score getting ready to blast out of IMAX speakers on October 22nd, let's look back at his nine best pieces of work:

RELATED: The 15 Best Film Scores of the 2010s, Ranked


Dunkirk is Zimmer’s most recent team-up with Nolan. Dunkirk details the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk beach as they were being surrounded by German forces. This movie demands a sense of urgency and Zimmer’s score captures it perfectly. Zimmer implemented a ticking clock sound throughout the film, causing each scene to rise in tension and add to the desperation of the scenario. It feels like there is a hidden timer in the air, causing the soldiers to be more anxious about their situation.

The track “Supermarine” truly captures the suspense of the moment and brings viewers into the battle. However, Zimmer does know when to ease off. There are moments of pure hope in Dunkirk, especially when the fishermen show up to help with the evacuation. The track “Variation 15” is peaceful zen as it works to cause the audience to relax. There is now hope and the lightness of the music, mixed in with the majestic rhythm also pays tribute to the real-life heroes of that moment.

Kung Fu Panda

Yes, you heard that right. Zimmer composed the music for the Kung Fu Panda trilogy alongside John Powell. However, the first film is where Zimmer’s score truly shines. Zimmer managed to create a score that mixes in adventure, action, humor, and culture. He uses authentic Chinese instruments like the pipa and the erhu to create music that fits the setting of Kung Fu Panda. There is also a musical motif used throughout the film that captures hope & heroism, but also sadness.

The track “Oogway Ascends” captures the sadness of the moment but also the peace that Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) feels as he ascends to another realm. There is also a little hint of danger as now Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is left alone to train Po (Jack Black) by himself. It’s a beautiful piece of music and manages to express so many different emotions. The score still has plenty of cheerful and humorous moments, but it’s also able to give more meaning to emotional scenes.


Gladiator is one of Zimmer’s most epic scores. From the beginning action scene, the music is filled with raw intensity that matches the on-screen violence. Gladiator is a swords-and-sandals tale full of betrayal, tragedy, and cruelty. However, Gladiator also features an inspiring tale of Maximus (Russell Crowe) who rose up from the ashes to get justice. His death is not one of sadness, but one of joy and fulfillment.

The track “Elysium” beautifully embodies these feelings as an almost ethereal chorus welcomes Maximus to the afterlife where he can be with his family. His journey is now complete and he can rest. Zimmer also wisely chooses when to restrain from using music. When Maximus kills Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), there is no music trying to manipulate your emotions. The audience simply takes in the brutal nature of this scene as Commodus suffers and Maximus gets his revenge.

RELATED: 9 Movies You Forgot Were Scored by Hans Zimmer

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

While At World’s End may not be the best film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, it does feature Zimmer’s finest score for any of these movies. The movie immediately begins with ominous power as the pirates sing a haunting shanty while facing the gallows. However, Zimmer still is able to create a score that embodies the swashbuckling adventure we have come to expect.

The track “Up is Down” features upbeat, valiant music that also mixes in the zaniness of watching the crew trying to flip the Black Pearl. “One Day” uses the romantic motif of Elizabeth Swann's (Keira Knightley) and William Turner’s (Orlando Bloom) relationship to show the strength of their relationship and the desire they both have to be with each other. Of course, there is also “Drink Up Me Hearties Yo Ho,” an exciting track that ends the film with the iconic Pirates of the Caribbean theme. It acts as a conclusion, while also setting up more potential adventures.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel dives deep into themes of heroism and inspiring others. Zimmer’s score really helps to sell this idea. The score is booming, with loud drums and bass that drive the action scenes. The soft piano keys played alongside Superman (Henry Cavill) embody his internal struggle of trying to be an inspiring champion of Earth.

“Flight” beautifully showcases the majestical feeling of flying while also showing Superman fulfilling his destiny as a hero. It starts off big and crescendos when Superman begins to fly around the world. The final track “What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World” concludes the film in an epic triumph that will make you want to soar. Man of Steel may have mixed reactions amongst fans, but Zimmer’s score is still fantastic.

The Dark Knight

Before Zimmer gave us a new Superman theme, he took on Batman (Christian Bale). Composed with James Newton Howard, The Dark Knight still features the iconic Batman theme set up in Batman Begins, but there is also a great mix of orchestral and electric music that creates a dark, ominous environment for Gotham City.

The Joker (Heath Ledger) is attached to an eerie noise that follows him. It’s immediately present in the opening scene before he goes into the bank. It’s a great audio cue that adds to the creepiness of this version of the Joker. The score is booming and suspenseful and adds to the ambiance of each scene. The music used when Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) holds Jim Gordon’s (Gary Oldman) family hostage is horrifying and keeps you locked in for that scene. However, Zimmer is still able to create moments of levity and victory. It’s a phenomenal score that feels so distinct for The Dark Knight trilogy.


The score for Inception has been mocked at times for its use of an overdramatic “Bwahh” noise. However, Inception is intense at times and the heightened score adds to the multiple layers scene in the film. There are often multiple things going on at once and the score manages to add to the chaos while still keeping you engaged.

For example, the track “Dream is Collapsing” comes in the middle of a frantic scene where Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is being awoken while still in the dream, so his real-world senses begin invading the dream. The blaring, brass-filled score enwraps you into the chaos. There are still quiet moments as well. “Time” begins with a slow melody that begins to become louder and more intense as we see where each character ends up while reminiscing on the journey they’ve experienced. It’s definitely one of Zimmer’s more bombastic scores, but it really fits Inception’s ambition.


Out of all of Zimmer’s team-ups with Nolan, this may be his best score of the bunch. The score is able to manifest all of the elements of space: beauty, wonder, isolation, emptiness, and danger. Zimmer’s score manages to have an incredible sci-fi feeling while also remaining grounded. The organ note that builds in many scenes throughout Interstellar creates an atmosphere of amazement and peril.

Zimmer’s score also creates intense sequences, such as “Mountains,” where he uses a ticking clock sound to simulate how far the massive wave is. As it gets closer, the ticking speeds up, and layers of music are added to make the scene tenser. The masterpiece of Interstellar is “No Time For Caution” where Matthew McConaughey’s character is attempting to dock the ship onto a spinning station. This scene is incredibly suspenseful as the slightest wrong move could end in catastrophe. Zimmer works in an organ and some light strings to produce a score that doesn’t let you focus on anything else. Interstellar may be Zimmer’s most unique score as it sounds like nothing else he has ever created.

The Lion King

This is the only score Zimmer has ever won the Best Original Score Academy Award for and it’s well deserved. However, it does get overlooked as many only remember the songs created by Elton John. The Lion King is still empty without the score. “...To Die For” uses a chorus and a haunting orchestra to make the stampede sequence ten times more intense.

“This Land” is a graceful and peaceful piece of music that highlights the beauty of the savannah and the amazing animation. In ‘King Of Pride Rock,” the music that follows Simba as he walks up Pride Rock gives you goosebumps as the land is finally restored. As the light shines on Simba and the orchestra plays triumphantly, we know that Simba has taken his rightful place as king. Zimmer’s score for The Lion King encapsulates the good and the evil present in Disney’s animated classic.

KEEP READING: Hans Zimmer Explains Why He Chose ‘Dune’ Over Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’

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