Talking movies, music and other close encounters of the social media kind.
Movie composers. They are the Mozarts and Beethovens of the modern digital age. They use the power of a symphony orchestra and combine that classical sound with visual images from a film to evoke an emotional response. Whether it’s to make the viewer laugh or cry, to fill their soul with rage or happiness, or feel like they can fly like Superman – they provide the emotional heartbeat of the film.
Some movie composers have created some of the greatest pieces of music.
Hans Zimmer is one of them.
If you don’ t know who Hans Zimmer is – you’ll probably know his music scores from some of the great blockbuster films. And they’re quite a few – as you look below there’s a few pearlers:
GLADIATOR TRUE ROMANCE BATMAN BEGINS THE DARK KNIGHT
THE LION KING DAYS OF THUNDER BACKDRAFT MAN OF STEEL
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS RAIN MAN DRIVING MISS DAISY
THELMA & LOUISE BATMAN & SUPERMAN CRIMSON TIDE
INTERSTELLAR INCEPTION THE DA VINCI CODE BLACK RAIN
12 YEARS A SLAVE WONDER WOMAN SHERLOCK HOLMES BLACK HAWK DOWN
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN MADAGASCAR THE LAST SAMURAI
and many more.
I’ve even used his track (actually stolen is a better word) for a fun little video I made over Easter a couple years ago – from the film ‘True Romance’.
And so it was, as I was staring at my computer at work one afternoon and working on a facebook post for Wellington Museum. I looked at my newsfeed and saw a post from Andrew – one of my old work creative advertising work colleagues in Auckland:
So with a few taps on the Mac Pro keyboard and a visit to the Air NZ and Ticketmaster website, I quickly got a concert ticket, and a plane trip to Auckland.
There’s no way I’m gonna miss this. Not for this film buff wanna-be.
Hans Zimmer is one of my favourite movie composers.
The music he composed for GLADIATOR is one of my favourite all-time movie scores. From the violent dance of ‘The Battle’ at the start of the film, to the moving ending of ‘Elisyum’ ‘Honor Him’ and ‘Now We Are Free’ (sung by Lisa Gerrard).
Another favourite movie score he did was for BACKDRAFT – an action drama about Chicago Firefighters. The music sounded so heroic, after watching that film in 1991, I just wanted to quit University and become a fireman. (that one’s for you Atlas).
Hans Zimmer’s work is right up there with other great movie composers. And there’s a few of them too:
Howard Shore The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
By the way, try listening to these pieces of music while you’re walking down the street, or going for a run or driving your car. I guarantee you’ll be elevated like no other. It works for me, I always tend to run faster and lighter on the treadmill (and in slow-motion) whenever I play ‘Chariots of Fire’ on my iPod Shuffle, and when listening to Hans Zimmer’s Backdraft music score, I feel kinda heroic (and I’m only just walking down to the dairy to get milk and a newspaper).
So, after a delay flying out of Wellington, I managed to get up to Auckland and meet with Andrew on a very wet Saturday evening before the concert. It was good to catch up with an old work colleague – talking advertising, house prices in Auckland & Wellington, Shakespeare, Jaguar and Skoda car ads, Auckland Rugby, NASA, the MetService, weather space balloons, making video content and editing, audio synching (and of course Hans Zimmer) over a few beers at the Brew on Quay in the Britomart Quarter.
Then we went to Spark Arena to meet his mate (also called Andrew) and went to find our seats. I was sitting separately from them, so after grabbing another beer, I ended up sitting next to a music producer from Slovakia – who’d been living in New Zealand for three years , and we chatted about Hans Zimmer, electronic music and found out we were both Trent Reznor fans and digged the music he did on the movie, ‘The Social Network”
And then the lights went down.
It’s not everyday you get to hear your favourite movie soundtracks played live, by half an orchestra, a 20 piece band including a beautiful chinese Celloist who plays like she’s Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, and one of the loudest drummers this side of John Bonham.
All playing with one of your favourite movie composers.
Actually, it’s never.
And then Hans Zimmer enters the stage – and everyone applaulds to welcome this modern day Mozart of the movies. And they go straight into the whimsical tune to the film ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. A delightful number to start the evening.
And for the next three hours, the Spark Arena crowd were treated to a majestic music and movie spectacle that was part heavy metal rock concert, part superhero film, part electronic, part symphony, but all powerful and stirring – on a grand scale.
His melodies sound so simple – yet he creates a wall of sound that builds and builds – resulting in uplifting musical pieces that just sound epic and collossal. No wonder he composes music for a lot of current superhero films.
There was a lot of them.
The man himself: He was totally endearing to the crowd giving funny and interesting anecdotes on the backstory of his pieces of music. Admitting that he’s more comfortable being alone in a dark room with his synthesisers creating sounds, he is open, jovial and loves to join in on the fun – playing guitar alongside the band members and acknowledging each member.
Lisa Gerard and the Gladiator medley: Wow. The great Lisa Gerard is here to sing ‘ Elysium’ and ‘Now We Are Free’ from Gladiator. I look up to the music gods and smile. Everyone knows this moment is a special one as she has not played with Hans for 20 years. And when she sings, it’s just as haunting and powerful as when I first heard it when Maximus heroically dies at the end of the film. My eyes were glistening. Beautiful.
The Lion King: When Soweto singer Lebo M starts singing ‘Nants ingonyama! bagithi baba!‘ the whole crowd erupts and we all started to miss Mufasa, rejoice with Simba and join the circle of life all over again.
Tina Guo and the Pirates of the Caribeean medley: The sexy-looking Tina Guo leads this great medley, playing the cello (which looked like it was designed by Prince) with the right amount of Jimmy Page swagger. The music swirls, and with the Auckland Choir chiming in – it wonderfully builds up to a swashbuckling fury of glorious music at the end. I don’t like any of the Pirates films, but man, that was awesome. I turn to see my new Slovakian friend and he says; ‘I think I’m in love with the Celloist’. We all are mate. Definitely the highlight of the first act.
The Da Vinci Code: and then straight after that Pirate epic, they play ‘Chevaliers de Sangreal’ which is five minutes of the most beautiful viola and cello I’ve ever heard live – and with the choir in majestic song, it’s truly graceful and divine (The Da Vinci Code is about Mary Magdalene after all).
Man of Steel: Hans Zimmer loves the thunderous sound of the drums and it’s clearly prominent on his music score for the latest Superman film. The amazing drummer Santam Ramgotra – sporting a gandalf white beard, conjuring up drum beats like a wizard sorcerer (his very name sounds wizard-like). With another 3 percussionists hitting just as hard, they were all very loud – hats off to the orchestra who had a tough task of playing above the grand drum sound. (Note: The actual recording was done by 12 of the top drummers which included Sheila E, Vince Colaiuta, Jason Bonham and Jim Keltner). You can never match John William’s near perfect music score for the 1978 Superman movie, but Hans manages to do it – with a soaring build-up and a crescendo that’s pure escapism. As a person who enjoys playing the drums – I totally loved this piece. Stunning.
The Dark Knight Hans talks about his shock and sadness when he heard of Heath Ledger’s death and the shootings in an American cinema when the Dark Knight was screening. Then ‘The Dark Knight’ medley begins. Everything goes dark and heavy. Even the violins get vicious as the drums go primal and into full beast mode. I can imagine the late John Bonham playing amongst this thunder. So this what it sounds like if Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath played with an orchestra.
Interstellar: Oh boy. If the Dark Knight and Man Of Steel wasn’t epic enough – the movie maestro brings in his 2015 space odyseey. This concert has now reached cosmos status of interplanetary proportions.
And finally, Inception: he knows how to end films with his music themes and Time from the movie ‘Inception‘ is a great way to end this unique and amazing concert. With a final charge of his wonderful band of musicians, this attack to the senses of movie symphonics concludes with one single light beaming on him playing piano.
With all the grandeur and spectacle of the whole concert, it ends on one intimate, but powerful piercing note.
I think I’ve just witnessed a masterpiece.