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Stirring Scores: My Top XV – I to V

The impact of sound often goes unnoticed in relation to film, but it is intrinsically linked and meticulously composed to match the images and enhance the emotion of the narrative. The undeniable power music has on emotion is something that never ceases to astound me. Entwined through nature a certain chord can provoke endless emotions, from terror, suspense and sorrow through to joy, excitement and elation. It’s the colour of music that allows these emotions to stir up in me and that’s why these songs stay with me long after a film. But I would say that without the adjoining imagery, these particular pieces of music would not have had such an effect on me. These fifteen are some of the tracks from particular scores that I never get tired of hearing and are the ones I always go back to. They feature some of the most successful and loved films, several Oscar nominees and winners and some of the world’s most well-known, popular and influential composers.

I. Time – Hans Zimmer – Inception.

Number one on my list of fifteen comes from one of my favourite films, Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Hans Zimmer is perhaps one of the most popular composers; known for his scores of, Gladiator, The Prince of Egypt, The Dark Knight, Sherlock Holmes and Man of Steel. This won’t be the last time you see Zimmer’s name appear on this list. Similarly it won’t be the only score he composed on this list that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. However in this case, he was beaten by The Social Network’s score that features further down in my list. When listening to this song it is almost impossible not to imagine Cobb’s spinning top gently revolving and the closing image of the film.

II. American Beauty – Thomas Newman – American Beauty.

Again, this piece comes from one of my favourite films, Sam Mendes’ American Beauty. Thomas Newman has collaborated with Mendes on several films and even though this piece is in the number two slot, I would have to put Thomas Newman at the top of my list for movie composers. He has had involvement with countless films including Shawshank Redemption, Meet Joe Black, The Green Mile, WALL-E and Skyfall. American Beauty did win the Academy Award for Best Picture and although having received a nomination, Newman’s score lost out to John Corigliano’s score of Red Violin.

III. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave – James Horner – Titanic.

James Horner’s incredible score is undoubtedly one of the reasons for James Cameron’s Titanic’s gargantuan success. Not only did Titanic win the award for Best Picture but Horner’s score also won the award for Best Original Score, however this was not his first. He also won the award the first time he collaborated with James Cameron on Aliens and went on to win it for Braveheart among many nominations. This particular song is perhaps the one on this list that conjures up the starkest image in my mind of the flares lighting up the night sky behind Jack as he watches Rose in the lifeboat being slowly lowered. There are elements that kick in around, 1:39, that remind me of the unmistakable theme from Chariots of Fire.

IV. Cleared Iranian Airspace – Alexandre Desplat – Argo.

This song comes from Alexandre Desplat’s score for Ben Affleck’s Best Picture winner, Argo. The film takes you on a very dramatic and tension filled journey, and this piece featured towards the conclusion of the film encapsulates the tremendous emotion of the characters and helps translate it to an audience beautifully. Desplat has worked on many other features such as The King’s Speech (another Best Picture Winner), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Zero Dark Thirty and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and 2. He has also contributed to many foreign language films and is set to contribute to the 2014 remake of Godzilla . This particular score was nominated for the Oscar but lost out to Mychael Danna’s score of Life of Pi.

V. This Land – Hans Zimmer – The Lion King.

We’re back with another Hans Zimmer piece, from a film that has a place in everybody’s heart, Disney’s The Lion King. Besides the ever catchy songs such as Just Can’t Wait to be King, Be Prepared, Hakuna Matata and Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight, the film is also accompanied by Zimmer’s sublime score. I have no doubt that his score helped to turn this film into one of the most popular animated films of all time, grossing nearly one billion dollars at $987,483,777, and on IMDB’s Top 250 films it’s in at 75 with a rating of 8.3 out of 10. The score did win Zimmer the Academy Award beating the likes of Thomas Newman, for Shawshank Redemtion and Little Women and Alan Silvestri’s heartwarming score to Forrest Gump.

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