Movie music is often difficult to judge, because so much of it is wrapped up in the moment you're seeing on screen.

For example, John Williams' infamous two-note intro to 'Jaws' wouldn't work without seeing the shark. Sure, you can pick up some of the intended emotion, but often, the two formats - audio and visual - need to complement each other. Hans Zimmer, however, had a background in '80s pop music and New Wave and when you listen to his work, you can begin to understand how the two are connected.

For example, 'The Dark Knight' was peppered throughout with synths, as was 'Inception' and some of his work on 'Rain Man'. Yet, for all of that, he's also done some hugely orchestral works like Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' or 'The Lion King'.

With that in mind, we've picked ten of our favourite Hans Zimmer tracks.


10. 'A Way of Life'

Although 'The Last Samurai' is by no means Tom Cruise's best movie and most definitely smacks of white saviour narrative, Hans Zimmer's score was beautifully rendered and done with a light touch that the movie didn't have at all. By far, the signature track from the movie is 'A Way Of Life', which uses traditional Japanese instruments like the fue and the shamisen over a traditional orchestral track.



9. 'Flight'

John Williams' score for 'Superman' is easily one of the most iconic soundtrack cues ever made. So how do you replicate it? You don't. With 'Man Of Steel', Zimmer went in the opposite direction and opted for percussive elements in order to achieve a much more grittier, grounded sense of heroism. Cues like 'Flight' mixed well with Zack Snyder's unique take on Superman and the hint of synthesiser in some of the songs blended particularly well with the sci-fi elements of the story.


8. 'He's A Pirate'

As mentioned, Zimmer knows how to make a wild and bombastic score with a sense of high adventure. While his music could be argued as being less intricate than, say, John Williams, it's still instantly recognisable and completely evokes a sense of wonder. With the first 'Pirates of the Carribbean' movie, Zimmer was setting up the musical landscape for the rest of the series and it had to catch audiences instantly. Tracks like 'He's A Pirate', 'Wheel Of Fortune' and 'Hello Beastie' all worked together to create this swashbuckling atmosphere. Despite what you might think listening to it, no guitars were used during the scoring. Zimmer actually played the orchestra through a guitar amp "and piped back into the room."


7. 'Tribal War'

Hans Zimmer's made more than a few bombastic, thrilling scores in his day. In fact, he's knocked them out a rate of knots down through the years. 'The Rock', 'Backdraft', 'Johnny English' - he became known as the go-to composer for big, blustering action soundtracks and his best of these was undoubtedly 'Black Hawk Down'. Ridley Scott's explosive retelling of the Battle of Mogadishu saw a small band of US Rangers fight an insurmountable force of mercenaries on the streets and buildings of a crumbling African city. Scott's gutteral, down-and-dirty filmmaking was juxtaposed brilliantly by Zimmer's explosive orchestral score, and it's no surprise that he would go on to work on the 'Call of Duty' games franchises as well.


6. 'Stay'

Zimmer's collaborations with Christopher Nolan really do have that kind of simpatico and while there's plenty of excellent examples on this list, 'Interstellar' is by far one of the most muted and restrained. Apparently, when in pre-production for 'Interstellar', Nolan purposefully didn't tell Zimmer what the movie was about, but instead asked him to think about his children and write music off the back of that. The result was one of the most soulful of Zimmer's Nolan soundtracks. While some might argue for 'No Time For Caution' and the incredible docking sequence, 'Stay' really captures all the conflicting emotions in 'Interstellar'.


5. 'You're So Cool'

For a film that was so brutally violent and just downright weird in about every way you can imagine, Hans Zimmer's soundtrack seemed completely at odds and the feature track - 'You're So Cool' - felt like something pulled from an episode of 'Barney The Dinosaur', not a movie about a kill-crazy rampage and a thorough skewering of Hollywood itself. Still, like so much of 'True Romance', it works despite itself.


4. 'Old Souls'

Although 'Inception' was set up to look like a heist thriller, it had some incredibly deep sci-fi roots and these were brilliantly reflected in Hans Zimmer's score. 'Old Souls' sounded like it was something written by Vangelis or Tangerine Dream, whilst 'Mombasa' and its guitar fills from none other than Johnny Marr had all the slickness and shine you'd expect from a big budget blockbuster. There were other, more subtler moments on the soundtrack as well, but the haunting melody of 'Old Souls' is the stand-out track of 'Inception'.


3. 'Why So Serious?'

Working with James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer's musical cues for 'The Dark Knight' had to reflect the more grounded, realistic tone that Christopher Nolan was working with. For the Joker's unique theme music, Zimmer referenced such diverse musical acts like Kraftwerk and used razor blades on string instruments to create the jittering, angular sounds. There were still flourishes from 'Batman Begins', whilst James Newton Howard scored Harvey Dent's more traditional, orchestral scores.


2. 'Under The Stars'

When you mention 'The Lion King' soundtrack, people rightfully think of Elton John's 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight' and 'The Circle Of Life'. However, many people may not realise that Hans Zimmer produced both of these songs with Tim Rice and Elton John and was responsible for composing the orchestral score throughout the entire film. When Simba meets with Mufasa, when Mufasa falls into the stampede, it's all Hans Zimmer's music playing over those key cinematic moments. As he did on 'Gladiator', 'Black Hawk Down' and countless other soundtracks, Zimmer uses numerous influences from world music and filters them into easily one of the best animated soundtracks ever written.


1. 'Now We Are Free'

Although people may recognise Zimmer for his brash soundtracks, he also had a keen interest and ear for world music. Working with Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, Zimmer created a rich tapestry of sounds and atmospheres that took influences from Arabic and Moroccan music, as well as the more conventional orchestral sounds. Songs like 'Elysium', 'The Battle' and 'To Zucchabar' showed the great depth and variety of musical styles that Zimmer was able to work with and blend together in one soundtrack. By far, 'Now We Are Free' stands out among them and ends Ridley Scott's swords-and-sandals epic on a high note.