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Hans Zimmer quits ‘superhero business’

March 31, 2016 by norman lebrecht

24 comments.


The film composer has been talking to the BBC’s Hard Talk programme.

“I did Batman Begins with Chris [Nolan] 12 years ago, so The Dark Knight Trilogy might be three movies to you, to me it was 11 years of my life,” he said, explaining that he then worked on Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “This one was very hard for me to do, to try to find new language.”

More here.

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Comments (24)

  1. Mikey says:

    Now to get him to quit the music business altogether.

    1. Rob says:

      Two thumbs up.

  2. Michael Hurshell says:

    EW Korngold, OTOH, usually wrote a film score in a time frame of a few weeks to maybe 3 months. Compare the music from the above mentioned films to, say, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, Deception…

  3. Ross Amico says:

    Did he even write any of these to begin with, or were they the work of his minions?

    1. Robert Holmén says:

      Were you to watch the interview you’d see he notes a collaborator.

      1. Ross Amico says:

        I watched it. It doesn’t mean I can’t take a shot at a long-standing practice of his that I happen to dislike, especially since he is arguably the most influential living film composer (barring John Williams, who seemingly no longer holds sway over the younger generation). We are indeed a very, very long way from the Korngold scores cited by another poster.

        1. Halldor says:

          Using an orchestrator is pretty much universal in film music. Even Korngold used several during his time at Warner Bros – Hugo Friedhofer prime amongst them.

          1. Ross Amico says:

            I know about Friedhofer, and I am familiar with the practice of working with orchestrators, thank you. (In turn, Jerome Moross acted as Friedhofer’s orchestrator on “The Best Years of Our Lives.”) The duties of Zimmer’s “collaborators,” from what I understand, frequently involve much more than orchestration. This must come across as sounding horribly snobbish to you, but I have a hard time taking anyone who calls himself Junkie XL very seriously. I was just listening to a compilation of Ernest Gold scores this morning, and it made me sad to be reminded of what real craftsmanship sounds like. It’s not like Gold is my favorite film composer, but he had the talent and the training — as did most of his colleagues at the time — to lend a touch of class even to a garbage movie like “It’s Mad Mad Mad Mad World.”

      2. Mikey says:

        Zimmer has four (4) other composers in the end credits listed as “additional music by” for Batman vs Superman.
        So how much additional music is by these others? Which parts? The barely tolerable parts?
        That makes six (6) composers in all credited with the “score” to that movie.

  4. Cubs Fan says:

    Now if he could just get Hollywood to quit the superhero movie nonsense and get back to making good, thoughtful, entertainment for thinking adults.

    1. Robert Holmén says:

      Hollywood still makes productions with interesting characters and compelling stories but they appear now as cable TV series rather than theatrical features.

      Movies have evolved to serve the short-attention span niche.

      1. John Nemaric says:

        In my humble opinion you are totally and absolutely correct. Your assessment of the current state of the art is very perceptive. However, many people – those around me – fail to comprehend this current trend. For many TV is exemplified by shows like “Dancing With The Stars” and for them that’s real TV (in the USA). Many of the older (45 plus I would say) reject serial TV such as “The Walking Dead” or “The American” for example including such masterpieces like “House of Cards.” These serials have been going for years and that, as you perceptibly state, require a far, far longer attention span. Serial TV is very popular with 18 to 45 years old, while standard theatre movies are lucky to attract even a range of ages from 17 to 100 y/o. As an Anthropologist and Ethnomusicologist that I am, it seems to me that the best of film making is now on television on a consistent basis while theaters are still like you say, catering to short span memories. This is a very interesting subject to explore and I am sure it’s being followed by those who invest in the industry, to wit, film producers.

        1. Cubs Fan says:

          Serialized TV can be great. “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey” are hugely popular- but can’t hold a candle to the immense audience that watches “The Walking Dead” – and I admit to being a Dead Head. Another problem is that produces just imitate each other: there are so many post-apocalyptic shows such as “The Strain”, “The Colony”, and “Falling Skies”. But too many of these shows run for too many seasons and you lose interest and even forget what’s going on. Downton Abbey had no zombies, space invaders, mass murderers, was intelligently written, and a bit too sweet but made for great watching. And the music wasn’t Elgarian or Zimmer-like bombast.

    2. Mikey says:

      That’s right, Hollywood should stop making any movies that CUBS FAN doesn’t like and immediately start making only films that CUBS FAN enjoys, because anything else is for idiots.

      This from a man who’s screen name is “CUBS FAN”… is the irony not so thick one could cut it with a knife?

  5. Haydn 70 says:

    “This one was very hard for me to do, to try to find new language.”

    Yeah, Hans, since you are musically illiterate, that would be very hard.

  6. Brendan G Carroll says:

    Korngold’s son George deplored the decline in standards of this once great musical genre and once said to me “These days, so much film music merely sounds like someone left the radio turned on – there’s no actual composition or any attempt to marry sound and image”. He died in 1987 so imagine what he would make of film “music” today?

    Incidentally, the longest Korngold ever had to compose a score was 7 weeks (for Robin Hood). He did CAPTAIN BLOOD in just 3 weeks. Deadlines meant that he relied on an orchestrator to physically create the orchestral master, but always following his detailed piano score. Korngold would amend the orchestrations on the sound stage during the scoring sessions if the end result were not to his liking.

    It was a golden age.

    1. Andrey says:

      Ha-ha-ha. Sorry. I think you are just old. I will cherish and remember Hans ZImmer’s era as much as you do your 40-s or whatever. Time is changing and the grass does not become less green, we just get older.

      (Just to clarify – I am an orchestral musician with a classical education. But I find Zimmer innovative and great)

      1. Ross Amico says:

        Obviously you know not of what you speak, or to whom. You should familiarize yourself with Korngold’s work and Mr. Carroll’s before being too free with the ha-ha-has.

      2. Haydn 70 says:

        Ha-ha-ha. Sorry. I think you are just stupid and have no taste.

    2. David Boswell says:

      The reason CAPTAIN BLOOD took only three weeks is that Korngold had the invaluable assistance of Franz Liszt. There are huge chunks of two Liszt symphonic poems: MAZEPPA and PROMETHEUS. All of the sword fight music is from PROMETHEUS. MAZEPPA is heard throughout, particularly in the final ship battle.

      Korngold, an ethical man, insisted that the screen credit read “Musical Arrangements by Erich Wolfgang Korngold”.

      This is not a knock on Korngold, who is, at his best, #1 in his realm.

      ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, composed as well under time constraints, incorporates a BIG chunk of Korngold’s SURSUM CORDA, from 1919.

  7. Brendan G Carroll says:

    Mr Boswell, I am well aware of the Liszt excerpts in CAPTAIN BLOOD. The reason Korrngold had to resort to using these passages was because Warner Brothers moved the date of the release forward in order for the film to qualify for the Academy Awards, thus reducing the available time for writing the score to just 3 weeks. Even Korngold couldn’t produce a score for a 2 hour action picture in 3 weeks so he drew on the Liszt tone poems (which blend in remarkably well).

    As for SURSUM CORDA, of course I am also aware of that too, though I assure you he didn’t choose to use it to save time but rather because it suited the main character so perfectly. That said, aside from SURSUM CORDA (which accompanies the ‘Escape from Nottingham Castle” sequence and the “Escape from the Gallows”, Korngold produced an 80 minute score with 14 separate leitmotifs, and 5 major action sequences, all original. Contrast this with the music for a film like the much hyped PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN where the dreary main theme is played over and over and over again, with no attempt to even match the rhythms of the piece to the action on screen, and there is really no comparison is there?

    1. David Boswell says:

      As a Liszt fan, I am delighted by his contributions to CAPTAIN BLOOD. But the terrific title music — exhilarating, propulsive, even wistfully nostalgic — is all Korngold. The film is instantly airborne.

      Is it true that Korngold wrote the title music for KINGS ROW knowing only the title and not the story, thus incorrectly assuming a knightly context, and composing the majestic fanfarish theme everyone knows/emulates?

      Mr. Carroll, a note of hearty thanks for all the Korngold rarities you’ve posted to YouTube. Bravo!

      (I’ll take your word regarding the quality of the music in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, but please don’t make me watch it! Life is too short for Indigestible Franchise Offal.This opinion is borne of unanticipated exposure to several POTC productions during long flights. And, on the visual side, if I’m going to invest time and money watching a motion picture, I want to see people, not pixels. Death to green screens!)

  8. Brendan G Carroll says:

    Thank you for your appreciation of my YOU TUBE contributions. I haven’t done any for a while so I must try and update the channel.

    Your question about KINGS ROW is an interesting one for me, because it was again George Korngold, the composer’s son, who said that his father began writing the music believing the story had a “royal” theme, based on his reaction to the title before he read the script. And it must be said, it resembles, in its thematic physiognomy, the main title to “The Private Lives of Elisabeth & Essex”.

    However, that doesn’t explain why this main theme to KINGS ROW also fits the text of Henley’s poem INVICTUS, the words (I am the Captain of My Soul, I am the Master of my Fate) of which are sung so triumphantly by full chorus at the climax of the picture and which were only included in Casey Robinson’s script and NOT Hervey Allen’s novel!

    Curious eh?

  9. Anna Huse says:

    Great thanks!


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