Playlist #8

~ Movie music is some of the best music there is. The most compelling visual art form is empowered tenfold by its score. Cinematic tunes backing the unforgettable moments in movies make them come to life. As much or more so as the pains and joys on the faces of the thespians, we remember the music. And just the same, listening to the original sounds of films brings us back to their performances and the emotions we felt within the seat of our first experiencing.

I listen to film scores all the time and think I always will. I have done it for years to concentrate, or to motivate, or to provide the epic auras for my exercise. These are my favorite big screen scores to listen to, accumulated over my many years of movie-going. And I realize these are all pretty standard picks, widely known and renowned. But hey, they are the classics for a reason.

The Dark Knight TrilogyHans Zimmer ~ No music captures the immensity, the chaos and the mythology of Batman, and especially of Gotham, than the booming drums and sweeping score by the legend Hans Zimmer. The original soundtrack from The Dark Knight was the first that I purchased for myself and would listen to religiously to relive the film’s experience. There’s no better tunes to listen to when one wishes to either a) think about their entire life and the consequences of every action they’ve ever taken or b) suit up to stalk the rooftops of your nearest metropolis and brutalize some criminals in the act.

Because we have to chase him. Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now, so we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it, because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a Dark Knight.

Inception – Hans Zimmer ~ Inception was the most impacting movie I’d ever seen in my life up to then. I didn’t sleep the night after I saw it, I was too busy thinking about it, reliving it, listening to the orchestral sounds of a dream heist going increasingly wrong. The note. You know the one. They used it in the commercial to absolutely capture everyone’s attention. And then others kept re-using variations of it in other movie trailers for years to come. The music of Inception is meant to be listened to when one needs to either a) regain their grip on reality and recover from the realm of their dreams or b) utterly lose themselves in another world and free fall as fast as possible away from the grounds of their reality.

“There’s a point where we just let the music take over everything.”
― Christopher Nolan, Inception: The Shooting Script

Pirates of the Caribbean – Hans Zimmer ~ You can probably notice now there is a recurring theme with many of these film scores and who they were scored by. Mr. Zimmer is a God, that’s all there is to it. He has created dozens of masterpieces, and includes scores well beyond the ones I am going to feature here as my favorites {Hell, go listen to the recent Planet Earth II OST. It’s incredible}. The guy makes masterful OST creation look easy. Pirates is no exception. A rip roaring theme and collection of riffs for the high seas, all to match the character and the adventurous fun of these films. All of ’em still hold up! And the music always will. This score is great backing for traveling the high seas, engaging in some casual swashbuckling, and for delivering one-liners before doing something insanely daring and stupid.

“Not all treasure’s silver and gold, mate.”

The Last Samurai – Hans Zimmer ~ The final of my favorite Zimmer scores. Another movie I saw in my youth and fell in love with, it wasn’t until later that I came to the OST and began to unpack its brilliance. There is a peaceful, ambient flow to this score. It swings from tranquility to the rushing swells of battle, and then back again. This music is perfect for anything.

Tell me how he died. // No, I will tell you how he lived.

The Lord of the RingsHoward Shore ~ The Lord of the Rings storyline runs the full gamut of epic storytelling. It has its peaceful summer breezes, its epic expositional sequences and deep loremastering, and its big world-rending battles for the fate of all future life. So too does the score follow suite, sweeping along the whole of Middle Earth with a score to match Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf on their journey unto fate. This music will imbue you with aeons of lore in the span of its duration. Nothing brings my heart and soul peace quite like the music of The Shire 😌

“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”

Star WarsJohn Williams ~ Many cinephiles and lovers of film scores might consider John Williams the GOAT. I can’t dispute that judgment. Star Wars was probably the first movie music that ever touched my young ears with the force to change me, forever painstakingly listening for such audible effects in all movies since. And it did. I love the big themes and triumphant marks of the Jedi and the heroism of it all. But my favorite track is the Binary Sunset, settling the view from Luke’s beginnings on Tatooine. It spurs me to dreaming like he did.

“I will not be the last jedi.”

Jurassic Park – John Williams ~ This movie made me into a ‘dinosaur kid.’ Loved everything about this movie – the setting, the characters, the idea, the theme park interior, the jungle exterior, the dinosaurs! And the music. The Jurassic Park theme is as recognizable as any other score here for good reason. This theme manages to gather up everything that makes this movie special – the dream, the wonder, the beautiful terror of our own human machinations coming to fruition. It’s brilliant. {And yes, I could name an unconscionable amount of dinosaur names and still can and I hope I never forget them in lieu of more ‘useful’ mental data. Pour one out for Pachycephalosaurus!}

“Life will not be contained. Life breaks free. It expands to new territories, crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously.”

Harry Potter – John Williams ~ JW scored the first three films in the HP series. And they captured the childhood magic of the wizarding world perfectly. Another set of classics, that familiar light tune promising mystery and inviting awe at its playing instantly brings us into the realm of Hogwarts. As amazing as JK Rowling’s books are and as good a job of crafting the world that they do, I feel as though John William’s score fleshed out a whole other layer for it all. Just as the movie’s visualized them, one can no longer imagine this universe without these notes ever again. Long live John Williams!

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”