Movie: Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Director: Guy Ritchie
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Hans fucking Zimmer.
When I started writing this blog last month, I promised myself that I wouldn’t preach about Hans Zimmer’s work. Well, I can assure you that I will not accomplish that objective in today’s entry… If I know you on a personal level, chances are that we’ve had a couple of conversations regarding film music. During those conversations, I can guarantee that Hans Zimmer was mentioned three times at the very least. I know I’m a little intense whenever I talk about the guy but let me justify myself. Hans Zimmer is one of the most important musical figures of our time and here’s why.
Along with John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and a couple of others, Hans Zimmer’s work has been a major contribution to the continuous growth of film music. Just to give you an example: he is responsible for the notorious “BWAAAH” sound effect you can hear in every blockbuster trailer since Inception. FYI, he doesn’t support the fact that it’s being overused. He even influenced and created new genres of film music. In my honest opinion, he’s probably the main reason that film music is so popular these days. Again, that’s my opinion talking, not facts. All that to say this: I adore this man’s work and I’ll show you why.
With over 175 IMDB composer credits, Hans Zimmer’s discography is one of the biggest in the film music industry. You can see why it’s very hard to pinpoint one soundtrack that resembles all of the rest. I mean for fuck’s sake, the guy went from Rain Man to The Lion King… Anyway, as I was saying, Zimmer has composed hundreds of soundtracks but I believe that his work on Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is some of the most representative of his composition style. When it comes to capturing a movie’s atmosphere and feeling, nobody does it better than mister Zimmer. From subtle violin notes to bashing brass melodies, this movie holds one of the best soundtracks of all time.
Now let’s talk about the movie. From a narrative stand point, I can understand that some people have a couple of problems with the script, but other than that, this movie is pretty fucking solid. From a technical stand point, Sherlock Holmes holds itself very well. The cinematography is great, the action sequences are thrilling, the use of slow motion is on point, Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. have an incredible chemistry, and the music is fucking amazing. Guy Ritchie has proved himself to be a very good director when it comes visual and audio production. Again, I understand why critics didn’t like the movie but you can’t deny the amazing craftmanship that went into it. So why is the soundtrack so great? Well, let me tell you why.
What if I told you that Zimmer composed the movie’s main theme so it has the same narrative structure as a detective story? That might seem crazy but hear this: every instrument plays its own melodies just like clues give their own facts in every detective case. Once the clues are all collected, they unite themselves to complete the story and give the audience a sense of achievement. Zimmer does the same thing in the movie’s main theme; he plays every melody one by one and finishes off by blending every instrument together which creates a climactic end that makes the whole song feel like a detective case. That might seem dull and obvious at first glance, but it’s a very smart and effective way to compose. That’s only a small part of why this soundtrack is so great; there’s a lot more to say but I’ll keep it to this: this is some fucking great music.
I’m only scratching the surface here; Zimmer has composed some of the most complex soundtracks in the history of cinema and you can be sure that I’ll be blogging about them sooner or later. Sherlock Holmes is a great way to introduce you to his work as well as the artistic process that goes into it. People think I’m crazy when I say this and I know I’m repeating myself, but Hans Zimmer is and forever will be one of the great composing minds of this earth.
Interesting trivia: After Guy Ritchie signed on as the director, he insisted that the two most common clichés of Sherlock Holmes – the “Elementary, my dear Watson” quip and Holmes’s deerstalker – be dropped entirely.
You must forgive me, but I couldn’t bring myself to select three songs for the “Album Highlights” section. Consequently, here’s the whole soundtrack…
Thanks for reading (and listening). See you next week!