The Wings Of A Film: The Music Of Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer

Decca Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/07/2001

Hans Zimmer is proving himself to be possibly the next in line for the title of "soundtrack god" whenever John Williams decides to set his baton down. With his work on such films as Gladiator, The Lion King and Rain Man, Zimmer has more than proven he's in the same league as Williams, Ennio Morricone and the like.

The Wings Of A Film: The Music Of Hans Zimmer, is a collection of music from his various film scores that is supposed to be a tribute to the man and his music. But the constant jumping from film to film makes it almost impossible for a stylistic theme to be nailed down, and while this music is occasionally beautiful, it is a hard collection to get into.

Recorded in October 2000 at the Flanders International Film Festival, Zimmer conducts (and occasionally takes a role in the orchestra as a performer) 12 selections from 10 different films. Admittedly, such a presentation is supposed to show the wide range of Zimmer's writing skills, going from the African beats of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Lion King ("Lea Halalela", "Busa") and Power Of One ("Mother Africa") to the guitar-driven work of Driving Miss Daisy ("Driving") and Thelma & Louise ("Thunderbird"), the guitar courtesy of Pete Haycock. The harshness of Gladiator ("Now We Are Free" featuring Lisa Gerrard, and "Am I Not Merciful") is supposed to live in happy co-existence with the nervous joy of Nine Months ("Suite") and the frustrated but discovered love of Rain Man ("Main Theme") - or even the nervous tension of True Romance ("Main Theme").

It's all supposed to flow together like tributaries entering the same river... but for some reason, it just doesn't.

That's not to say the performances are any less spectacular; taken in any other context, these versions of songs from the movies would stand out in a crowd and be happily noticed. But the stylistic downshifting does keep the listener too often on guard, and it keeps them from really forming a bond with the music as it flows from the orchestra, much like it flowed from Zimmer's pen. By the time you get to the concert's closer "Busa", you almost feel a sense of relief, knowing that you can finally mentally relax. The simplest way to understand it is like this: Following up "Lea Halalela" with "Mother Africa" works well, because you're staying in the same musical vein.

Admittedly, one has to do some musical shifting to get from one genre to another, and if this was the occasional shift, there would be no problem. But going from ancient Rome ( Gladiator) to the deep South ( Driving Miss Daisy) to the thrills of being on the lam ( Thelma And Louise) to the horrors of war ( The Thin Red Line)... someone hand me the musical road map, I think I missed my exit.

It's a challenging disc, to be sure, and it's not without its rewards. But The Wings Of A Film: The Music Of Hans Zimmer, almost does itself a disservice by scattering the musical styles like so much seed in a field. Still, if taken in small doses, this disc does indeed celebrate the work of Zimmer - and there is much to be celebrated.

Rating: B-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Decca Records, and is used for informational purposes only.