Music in the background of a film is often important to how we experience the movie. In many cases, it can become as memorable as the motion picture itself. Think of the shouting violins in “Psycho” or the haunting tuba in “Jaws”– the latter composed by John Williams– who for more than a generation was Hollywood’s leading author. But over the years as directors and studios started to look for edgier ratings, they have significantly turned to a German-born author called Hans Zimmer. If you’ve been to the movies in the previous 40 years, you have actually heard a Hans Zimmer score.
Action, drama, comedy, romance, smash hits– he’s done them all.
Including the 1994 movie, “The Lion King,” for which he won an Oscar. With its opening Zulu chant, sung by Lebo M., a South African musician who was working at a car wash in Los Angeles when Hans enlisted him. Hans Zimmer:
That’s how that opening tune happened, literally. Microphone in the room, not in a booth or anything like this.
Hans informed the executives at Disney that he wished to state right off the bat this is not a common Disney film; it’s a father-son story that occurs in Africa.
Hans Zimmer: And they said, “Exactly. That’s great. Do– do what– do what you do.”
He showed us what he does at his studio in Los Angeles, where he composes his scores on this keyboard and computer system. For example, the music for the very first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.Hans Zimmer
: So, if you have “Pirates,” which is essentially this sort of a thing, there’s a jauntiness, right–
Lesley Stahl: Yeah.
Hans Zimmer: And it’s– The music is actually big. And he remains in a little rowboat with a little sail, and you hear this substantial orchestra. Because that’s the music he hears in the– in his head, due to the fact that he’s the greatest pirate that has ever lived in his imagination. So when you listen to the Joker [from “The Dark Knight”], he’s quite the opposite. It’s like, you understand, a bow on a bow and arrow. And you extend it.Lesley Stahl: Ooh. Oh my god. Hans Zimmer
: And it’s– it’s not pretty.
Lesley Stahl: It’s really emotional causing. I can’t even reveal why. I wouldn’t know– have the ability to put words to it. But– Hans Zimmer: That’s the idea. At my finest, words will fail you since I’m utilizing my own language.Since the 1980s,
Hans Zimmer’s language in his ratings, like in 2015’s most significant hit, “Leading Gun: Radical, “has defined not simply the characters however has helped inform the stories of chest-thumping action movies and sci-fi epics. Like” Dune,” which he won an Oscar for in 2022, in which he used juddering drums and electronic synthesizers. Lesley Stahl: So you have actually been called a radical.
You have actually been called a visionary. How would you explain yourself?Hans Zimmer: I would describe myself as someone who’s deeply in love with music, and deeply in love with movies, and playful. I love to play, like, as any musician does, as in any language. It states, you understand, you play music. His choices have been unforeseeable. For every single “Male of Steel,” there’s a
” Kung Fu Panda “and a “Sherlock Holmes, “in which he used a broken piano and banjos for the 19th-century investigator turned quirky action hero.Lesley Stahl: How essential is the instrument to getting what you want?Hans Zimmer: Vastly crucial. I suggest, due to the fact that instruments come with baggage.
You understand, for example, the meaning of a gentleman is someone who understands how to play the banjo however refrains from doing so.Lesley Stahl: Whoa. (LAUGH) Hans Zimmer: Why that banjo worked, right? Because it was funny. He has actually used banjos,
bagpipes, buzzing electronics
. And this, a great old-fashioned orchestra.Think about the composer of” The Dark Knight
” writing something this delicate.Hans Zimmer: Really great. Can we simply have another to, you understand, secure the innocent?He invited us to watch him record the score of a new film in a London studio last summer season. It has to do with a young girl maturing based upon a Judy Blume book,” Are You
There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” that will be launched in theaters this spring.Hans Zimmer: Like the sound?Jim Brooks: Mmm-hmm. Academy Award-winning director Jim Brooks is a manufacturer of this film. This is the eighth film they’ve dealt with together. Jim Brooks What’s special about Hans, states Brooks and other directors, is how deeply included he
gets in more than just writing the music. His procedure typically begins with a discussion with the director long prior to a single frame of the movie is shot. Jim Brooks
the movie’s about. The story of it. What the scene’s about. You don’t turn to a composer for that. Lesley Stahl: So he becomes nearly a partner in the– Jim Brooks: Definitely– Lesley Stahl:– writing and the directing– Jim Brooks: Yeah, yeah, yeah– Lesley
Stahl:– every phase?Jim Brooks: Yeah, yeah. On” Gladiator,” he partnered with director Ridley Scott. He states he told him that
he believed this movie must be about more than simply a male in a skirt
entering into battle.Hans Zimmer: And I felt
right at the beginning we needed to establish the possibility
that in this film we could have poetry.Lesley Stahl:
Can we listen just to a bit
— Hans Zimmer: I suggest– Lesley Stahl
:– of the music that you wrote for the– Hans Zimmer: It starts just with this note.Lesley Stahl: And you see the hand. Hans Zimmer: And you see the hand. And you’re already in a various world.Lesley Stahl: And there’s– nobody is talking– Hans Zimmer: You left the 20th century. You don’t expect the tenderness. Lesley Stahl: I imply, you are setting a mood.
Hans Zimmer: It’s a cry. It’s a cry. Lebo M. jams with Pedro Eustache and Zimmer His love of music, his obsession, grew out of his
childhood in West Germany. While other kids liked to play games, he liked to play the piano.Lesley Stahl
: So did you take piano lessons? Hans Zimmer: Definitely.
It was 2 weeks of outright torture.Lesley Stahl: Two weeks? Hans Zimmer: Well, yeah, because he then went to my mother and said,” It’s either him or
me.” And, fortunately, my mother made the
best option. She kept me, you know?( LAUGHTER) No, no– Lesley Stahl: