Best Scores Of 2017

posted Feb 1, 2018, 4:42 PM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Feb 1, 2018, 9:54 PM ]

By Kaya Savas and Leo Mayr

With 2017 firmly behind us and awards season upon us, it seems only right to once again take a look back on another amazing year of scores across all mediums. For this year’s top scores list, we thought we’d break it down a bit to fairly judge scores across the three mediums of onscreen visual storytelling. While the end goal of every score is the same, sometimes the different mediums can pose challenges and approaches that you will not find in the others. All genres and approaches are considered, but in the end it’s the music that helped tell a story in the most powerful way that ends up being memorable.

2017 was a very good year across the board and we saw scores from big-budget blockbusters all the way to tiny independent productions all create memorable experiences. Characters were brought to life, worlds were built and emotions carried us through the journeys we saw play out on the screens in front of us. Here are Film.Music.Media’s Best Scores Of 2017.

Video games pull in more revenue than any other visual medium, meaning that games are such a huge part of our storytelling culture. For a game score, we are looking at how well does the music not only tell a story, but also compliment the gameplay. A linear shooter will require different needs in comparison to an open-world sandbox game, but in the end it’s finding a balance that makes the music an integral part of the gaming experience. Game music is is such an important aspect of the player's emotional connection. With some games spanning over 100+ hours of gameplay, it's up to the composer and the developers to find a way for the score to become part of that experience.

5. Horizon: Zero Dawn by Joris de Man, Niels van der Leest & The Flight

A post apocalyptic sci-fi stone age game featuring giant robot dinosaur creatures? Yes, please. The score finds just the right balance between synth heavy sci-fi and percussion driven tribal influences to make for a unique and memorable experience. The atmospheric parts beautifully make the game world feel alive, while the more story driven elements add depth to the ever unfolding mystery.

4. Cuphead by Kristofer Maddigan

Cuphead is one of those games you either like or don’t really care about. No matter which group you fall in, it’s undeniable how much work went into the score. The sheer amount of fantastic jazz pieces made specifically for the game is overwhelming and almost makes you forget the game’s crushing difficulty. Almost…

3. DeFormers by Austin Wintory
As ever, Austin Wintory has been quite busy throughout the year, but none of his scores has come close to matching the uniqueness of DeFormers. The score is fun and silly and colourful. And near impossible to describe with words.

2. Assassin’s Creed: Origins by Sarah Schachner

In recent years, Sarah Schachner has proven herself to be more than capable of creating fantastic video game scores, and the latest in Ubisoft's long running franchise might just be her best effort to date. Stunning atmospheric music breathes life into the vast and diverse open world and fun combat music keeps your blood pumping through tense battles.

1. Divide by Chris Tilton

Having been released early in the year, Chris Tilton’s fantastic sci-fi score has somewhat fallen under the radar. Nonetheless, Divide is a spectacular effort. The synth infused orchestral score just works wonderfully, from the stunning main theme to tense atmospheric music and the occasional bursts of exciting action.

Honorable Mentions: Tooth And Tail by Austin Wintory, Call Of Duty: WWII by Wilbert Roget, II, Prey by Mick Gordon, Destiny 2 by Michael Salvatori, Skye Lewin, C Paul Johnson, Rotem Moav & Pieter Schlosser 

We constantly hear that we are living in the "golden age" of television, and that is the absolute truth. Many auteur storytellers are leaving film to helm TV series that have become some of the finest forms of visual storytelling. Television saturates our world in the digital age, and it's where we escape to in the comforts of our own home. Television poses a completely different approach for composers, and add on top of that the insane scheduling that becomes the reality for anyone working on a TV series. Yet somehow, composers and their teams overcome the logistical nightmare of scoring television to deliver amazingly powerful scores that cover hours and hours of storytelling.

5. 12 Monkeys: Season 3 by Stephen Barton

Stephen Barton took over for the television adaptation of 12 Monkeys and infused an incredibly detailed musical world to back it up. One could argue that the previous scores from Trevor Rabin and Paul Linford didn’t flesh out the world as much as Barton was able to. Barton’s incredibly detailed soundscape gave everything more life and added weight to the science fiction world.

4. Game Of Thrones: Season 7 by Ramin Djawadi

With the penultimate season of Game Of Thrones, Ramin Djawadi unleashed a score that truly gave Westeros a musical world that is evolving and growing into the final chapter. Our favorite themes have grown so much with the characters that we invest in every week, and Season 7’s score has maintained a momentum that is carrying the show in immense ways. With the show embracing a more cinematic approach in terms of action and storytelling, we're seeing the score continue to go to exciting places.

3. Genius by Lorne Balfe

Genius is exceptional scoring from Balfe who seems to have struck storytelling gold by painting portraits through music. Both this and Churchill are exceptional examples of how to flesh out an iconic historical figure and allow us as an audience to relate to them on an emotional level. As a series, Genius allows the music to really grow and flow with the story more so than a film would have allowed. The score’s structure is really superb, and we get both chill-inducing swells of inspiration as well as smaller intimate emotions. Genius is Lorne firing on all cylinders and should not be missed.

2. The Crown: Season 2 by Rupert Gregson-Williams & Lorne Balfe

Lorne Balfe joins Rupert Gregson-Williams for the second season of the dramatically heavy Netflix series. The score builds off the groundwork that Season 1 laid down, but instead of broad musical strokes like last season we instead get more nuance and a richer narrative. Fragility exists perfectly juxtaposed to big emotional swells for score that makes The Crown: Season 2 one of the best TV scores of the year.

1. Blue Planet II by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea & David Fleming

After a beautifully successful score to Planet Earth II, the Bleeding Fingers team takes on Blue Planet II to give us one of the most painfully beautiful nature documentary scores in the genre. Blue Planet II’s soundscape is a different world than Planet Earth II, and the entire score ebbs and flows like the oceans of our planet. Hans Zimmer’s grand structures along with powerful fleshing out from Jacob Shea and David Fleming turn this nature doc into one of the most emotionally powerful narratives in television. Our aquatic natural world explodes with life and emotion that makes Blue Planet II not only one of the best TV scores this year, but of the nature documentary genre as a whole.

Honorable Mentions: The Leftovers: Season 3 by Max Richter, Mr. Robot: Volumes 3 & 4 by Mac Quayle, Star Trek: Discovery by Jeff Russo, Mindhunter by Jason Hill

It's been the staple of visual storytelling for over 100 years and it's where audiences find ways to reflect on their own lives by witnessing stories unfold onscreen, or it's where you escape reality for 2 hours with a guilty pleasure. Either way, films are something truly special. Film composers are tasked at creating a musical narrative that fully supports a movie from start to finish, and throughout history we've seen film music become the emotional backbone of what makes audiences fall in love with films that end up becoming part of us. Here are some of the best musical stories that were told in 2017.

5. Wind River by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

If there are two composers who are able to craft a score that is born from the ground that the characters walk on, it’s Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Their scores operate on a different wavelength completely, and they always find a way to support the emotional depths of the films they score. Wind River is a powerful film because of the darkness painted by the music, and within the darkness comes melancholic beauty. There are poetic moments of internal reflection and then pure organic moments of pain and frustration. Wind River isn’t the most cheerful experience you’ll have, but it’s a study of the human condition that shouldn’t be ignored.

4. Only The Brave by Joseph Trapanese

One of the best scores of the year came from one of the best films of the year, and it was a film that nobody saw. On the surface, Only The Brave seems like any other “based on a true story” film about real-life heroes facing certain tragedy, but something about this film was different. From the direction of Joseph Kosinski, the acting of the ensemble cast and of course Joseph Trapanese’s simple yet powerful score, the entire film stands apart from the rest of the genre. So much time is spent on making sure these characters feel like real people and we live their lives through this movie. For a moment we almost forget about the tragic ending that ends this story. This movie doesn’t exploit tragedy for drama, it explores the ups and downs of everyday life and how at any moment that can be cut short. It’s a testament to the job these firefighters do and how they pour themselves into their job and the people around them. All of that, every single ounce of that is captured in the score. Only The Brave is a beautiful and somber score that is able to build an incredible amount of emotional depth and weight. Joseph Trapanese nails the tone of this score from start to finish, and the result is music that builds the characters together as one in an extremely intimate fashion. Moments throughout the score you'll be reminded that the tragic climax to the story is coming, and the music creates a sickening pit in your stomach as you anticipate the end. This score is very much an internal reflection about life in the face of death, and it’s what makes it such a perfect fit for this story.

3. War For The Planet Of The Apes by Michael Giacchino

War For The Planet Of The Apes is Giacchino writing in top form. Many of the blockbuster films he’s been scoring have been great fun distractions, but something about them felt like there was inspiration missing. That inspired feeling returns with War For The Planet Of The Apes. The score is filled with Giacchinoisms, gorgeous themes, powerful melodic structures, rich character detail, and above all an emotional core that grabs you and never lets go. The score is moving, it’s exciting and even quirky at times. It’s a perfect world to get wrapped up and lost in, and it's some of his best writing in a while. This is summer escapism with heart and it doesn't get much better. How often do you get a Morricone-inspired post apocalyptic western with apes vs humans.

2. A Ghost Story by Daniel Hart

A Ghost Story is a score about life and everything that comes with it. It's a very broad description, but it’s the only way to describe how such a poignant and subtle score was able to capture every moment of happiness and heartache of life in one narrative experience. The score is a beautiful ballad about love and loss, and the music has this powerful quality that makes it feel like it’s bleeding out of your soul. Everything here is just such a beautiful and perfect match to David Lowery’s vision that you can’t help but be pulled in by the music. A Ghost Story is an exemplary example of Daniel Hart’s talents as a storyteller, as well as how well he works with director David Lowery. This score is a fascinating and deeply resonating examination of the human condition and shouldn’t be missed.

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Carter Burwell

The theme of this movie is “anger begets more anger”, it’s a simple story that is just brilliantly executed. That masterful tone that the film achieves by balancing funny moments with truly emotional ones is all due to the score and choice of songs throughout. The final act and conclusion leaves an open-ended question to the audience very much like In Bruges, and we are left reflecting back on what we just experienced as an audience. Burwell’s score expertly paints us this story of pain and anger on the outside, with this raw helplessness on the inside that we’ve all felt when something truly makes us mad and we can’t do anything about it. The movie is pure McDonaugh and the score is pure Burwell. Their collaborative power is as strong as Burwell's works with the Coen brothers. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is really just a film examining how we deal with anger and the frustration that brews from that, and the way Burwell’s score accents what’s onscreen is a perfect compliment to the narrative. This is such a fine example of filmmaking and score on the highest level.

Honorable Mentions: Dunkirk by Hans Zimmer, It by Benjamin Wallfisch, Blade Runner 2049 by Benjamin Wallfisch & Hans Zimmer, Get Out by Michael Abels

Michael Giacchino At 50 - Live in London

posted Dec 5, 2017, 12:15 PM by Leo Mayr

“I have seen Michael Giacchino live.” The thought still hasn’t quite settled.

Whenever I explain to someone why Giacchino is my favourite composer and artist currently alive, I always end up with “His scores always sound like they belong in a concert hall.” On October 20th I was finally able to confirm this.

Photo Courtesy Of Andy Paradise

To celebrate Michael’s 50th birthday, the Royal Albert Hall in London hosted a one-time career retrospective featuring highlights from the composer’s impressive career. Michael was joined by several of his long time collaborators and friends, including the likes of JJ Abrams, Matt Reeves and Colin Trevorrow, each sharing stories about their collaborations. Brad Bird was also set to appear but suffered troubles with his flight. The musical side of the event was handled by the Cinematic Sinfonia and English Chamber Choir under conductor Ludwig Wicki.

The nearly 3 hour event managed to include music from almost every major score Giacchino has composed, ranging from his early work for Medal Of Honor and The Incredibles to his more recent scores for Rogue One and War For The Planet Of The Apes. The official programme that was available at the event lists 16 lengthy suites (some arranged just for this occasion), not counting the three (!) separate encores. The event was hosted by Adam Savage who seemed to take great pleasure in dressing up for as many of the movies as he could – his costumes ranging from an inflatable T-Rex to Director Krennic (Rogue One) including an armed Stormtrooper escort.

Photo Courtesy Of Andy Paradise

The bits in between the music were what made the evening so special, from David Silverman playing “Happy Birthday” on the sousaphone to a daring stunt by the great Gonzo (performed by Dave Goelz) which somehow led to the two singing “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday” (from The Muppet Movie). While there were a lot of silly moments, there were even more heartwarming personal stories and even a video montage of young Michael, narrated by his parents. With so many well known directors praising and joking with Michael Giacchino, it’d be an impossible task to write about it all.

Photo Courtesy Of Andy Paradise

As much as the evening was filled with silly moments and personal stories, the music was the heart of the event. While a lot of the music was played on its own, there were a handful of live-to-projection performances, most notably Giacchino’s score for the Pixar short film One Man Band and “Parting Words” from Lost. While Michael’s music can be fun and exciting, it was impossible to get through the evening with dry eyes. For me, the tears came during Rogue One and John Carter, the latter of which is still my favourite Giacchino score.

While a lot of the music remained close to the versions released on the score albums, for “Married Life” (from UP), the orchestra was joined by the Bond Quartet and “Roar!” (from Cloverfield) was rearranged to include large choir, giving even people familiar with Giacchino’s music something new to enjoy. Giacchino kept his appearances to a minimum, only conducting one piece before the interval, but when he took over a second time, he stayed.

The entire event was simply a blast from start to finish, with even a few minor technical difficulties seeming insignificant next to the almost overwhelming amount of fantastic music performed.

In a surprising turn, Michael’s suite from Super 8 was played over a montage of his old homemade movies. After hearing him talk about them in countless interviews, actually seeing the films he made in his youth was a fantastic experience.

Only Mission: Impossible was absent (perhaps due to the score focusing heavily on a theme not composed by Michael) but that was quickly redeemed with an exciting preview Giacchino’s upcoming Coco and a fun piece from Alias.

Photo Courtesy Of Andy Paradise

Seeing Michael Giacchino (and, perhaps more importantly hearing his music) live is already one of my fondest memories. From the first time I listened to his music, I wanted to hear it played live, and this event was certainly the best possible way for just that. As entertaining as the evening was, it also serves as a strong reminder of how important orchestral film scores can (and should) be.

Listening to his greatest accomplishments, I can’t imagine what else he’ll compose until the next career retrospective, but I certainly am excited for the next 50 years.


From the official programme:

The Incredibles

Medal Of Honor

“Arranged Marriage” Jupiter Ascending

Jurassic World

Marvel Suite (including the Marvel fanfare and main themes from Doctor Strange and Spiderman Homecoming)

Rogue One

“Parting Words” Lost




“Married Life” Up

One Man Band

John Carter



“Roar!” Cloverfield

War For The Planet Of The Apes

Star Trek

Super 8


Speed Racer



Is Binge-Watching Bad?

posted May 16, 2017, 3:26 PM by Kaya Savas

Binge-watching, it’s a term that has pretty much become the norm of how we describe television viewing habits today. 

“Hey, what shows have you binged lately?”
“Oh man, I just binge-watched the entire season of Stranger Things in 1 day because it was so good.” 

These are phrases you have probably heard from your friends or even yourself. But let’s take a look at how the word “binge” was used before streaming television was a thing.

Binge, as a noun is defined as a short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess, especially drinking alcohol or eating. As a verb it’s defined as indulging in an activity, especially eating, to excess. Before “binge-watching” became part of our vernacular there were really only two other types of binging, which are binge-eating and binge-drinking. Binge-shopping is sort of a thing, but we playfully turned that into “shopping spree” to make it fun-sounding.

Before binge-watching was a thing, we would use the word “binge” to describe unhealthy and negative behavior. Anything done in excess that would negatively impact a person would be called binging. How often do you brag about binge-eating a pint of ice cream or binge-drinking a 12-pack of beer? Not often I would hope, because that is destructive behavior. So how did the streaming industry turn “binging” into a positive thing?

My argument here is simply that binge-watching is not so great. It’s a practice that I think ruined the way we enjoy TV and ruined the magic of the stories being told on this medium. And you might say, “Well, it’s TV! It’s harmless! I have a busy schedule and want to watch my favorite shows all at once or in chunks based on when I want to watch them. And sure, that is the argument. Netflix, Amazon, HBO GO and Hulu have given us convenience. No longer are we adhered to the time slot. And I will admit, that’s a plus. Because the way people live their lives indeed has changed, and no longer do we have to pause life to get to watch our favorite shows. But instead, it’s the opposite, our favorite shows are now instead pausing our lives.

Just like a food or drink company, streaming companies prayed on our lack of will power. They know people have no self-control when it comes to indulging, especially when it comes to television. Remember Lay’s old slogan? “Betcha you can’t eat just one.” Or maybe Pringles’ “Once you pop…” campaign. These marketing campaigns encouraged binge-eating. So when Netflix or Amazon advertises “All episodes streaming [insert date here]”, it’s like a dinner bell being rung for binge-watchers. And these streaming services are now their own studios producing original content that is geared to keep you streaming their service more than the others. In other words, they want you to binge-watch and count on it.

So what’s the big deal? Well, essentially, binge-watching has lessened how special television can be. Movies retain that anticipation and build up because you see the release coming and of course it’s a 2 hour experience and you’re done. If a sequel is coming, it won’t be here for at least 2 years. Can you imagine if LOST or Breaking Bad was a Netflix show? How all of the momentum of having a chapter every week would be lost? Thankfully HBO and Hulu haven't subscribed to the binge-watching model that Netflix and Amazon have. Since both HBO and Hulu operate in the live TV space, they release episodes on a weekly basis. And to be honest, it’s so much better. Not only do you enjoy each episode more as its own chapter, but you can watch the series with the rest of the world at the same time and be part of the conversation. Or you can wait a few weeks and binge-watch the entire season. At least there's a choice there. And I much prefer the binge-watchers having to wait to do their compulsive watching while those who prefer the week to week model get to savor the series.

Just think of Game Of Thrones, think of the conversations you have at work or school or online after every episode. We react to the episode all together, the entire world reacts together. We discuss together, we anticipate together. 

“Hey did you watch GOT last night!?”
"YES! Did you?"
“Can you believe they killed [insert dead character name]!"
"He was my favorite character, how could they do that!"
"I hope [insert living character name] is safe next week"
(giddy conversation ensues)

But on Netflix and Amazon it’s pretty much:

“Orange Is The New Black episodes came out yesterday!"
“Yeah, already binge-watched it all.”
“Ah ok, don’t tell me anything, I haven't started yet.” 
“Yeah ok, well just be ready for episode 6, it's a doozy"
"Shhh, not till I get a chance!"
(end of conversation) 

TV now only exists in your own world and perhaps your significant other who you watch with.

Also you don’t savor any of the craft and creativity that goes into each story. It’s impossible to do so. Would you go to your favorite restaurant and order your favorite meal and scarf it down? Or would you enjoy the meal by taking your time and savoring the flavors? When you binge-watch, cliffhangers mean nothing and the 3-act structure of each episode means nothing because it dovetails right into another episode. If there’s a mystery, you as a viewer don't even try and work it out, you just power through to the answer at the end of the season. Plus you don’t even get to watch the credits and reflect. You even get tired of the opening theme song and fast forward through it. What used to be the piece of music that got you excited to dive into your favorite show is now an annoyance. And then you’re finished! All that hard work the cast and crew put into that season, finished in one or two sittings. And then you go, “so, how long till the next season?”

While binge-watching is the new norm, I try to take my time with TV shows on Netflix and Amazon that I enjoy. While there is more content than ever before streaming right to your living room or phone, it should still be important to pace yourself. Don’t lose the magic of television. Don’t let it become this disposable medium where you go just to get your fix. It can still be eventful and exciting. If you’re a binge-watcher then next time try to not binge it, enjoy it. Put your phone down. Close your laptop. Try maybe 2 episodes at a time, or do 1 episode every other day, or if you’re brave enough actually pace it out once per week. It will feel more special and you’ll get to appreciate it more. If you rush it, it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll be left wanting more. Good TV is like a good meal or a good beer, it should be savored and is better with company.

The Future Is Female: A Concert For Women In Film

posted May 9, 2017, 4:56 PM by Kaya Savas   [ updated May 10, 2017, 8:20 AM ]

Think of any film composer right now, first one that pops into your head. Chances are that composer was a man. It’s a problem in our industry that we are shining a much needed light on. We are more aware of diversity in the entertainment industry than ever before, and it’s not just racial diversity but gender diversity as well. The composing profession has historically only shown opportunities towards men; a problem most likely associated with the fact that most directors are also men, and in turn hire men to work with them. 

Things are changing for the better, and there’s no better evidence than the recent The Future Is Female: A Concert For Women In Film. This concert comes on the heels of another successful concert, The Women Who Score: Soundtracks Live. That concert featured some of the top female composers in the industry. The Future Is Female, led by composer Tori Letzler who organized and produced this concert, focuses on young up and coming female composers.

This concert featured some of the most talented female composers who are paving the road for the next generation of great storytellers. The composers featured here have already made a mark in the industry by working with top composers such as Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, Brian Tyler, The Newton Brothers, Mychael Danna, Bear McCreary, Christopher Lennertz, Jeff Russo, Henry Jackman, Thomas Newman, Steve Jablonsky and more!

These group of young women are paving their own roads and making sure other aspiring female composers can follow in their path. This concert showcases some absolutely stunning original pieces all performed by The Hollywood Chamber Orchestra.

Hopefully you’ll discover some new exciting talent here and follow the career paths of these fantastic storytellers as they tackle their next projects. Film.Music.Media was honored to be at the event and capture these performances for others to discover.

Visit for more!

Divertimento by Tangelene Bolton

Life And Dying: A Particular Account by Jessica Rae Huber

Suite For A Phoenix by Edith Mudge

Public Enemy by Brooke deRosa

New Zealand's Guide To Tessering by Nami Melumad

Cease To Exist by Tori Letzler

Bhavishya by Jessica Weiss

Gold Mountain: Suite For Chamber Orchestra by Anne-Kathrin Dern

Ten Years by Perrine Virgile-Piekarski

Prelude To The Beginning Of Time by Vivian Aguiar-Buff

Best Scores Of 2016

posted Jan 24, 2017, 10:39 AM by Kaya Savas

If you browsed the internet at any point during December of 2016 you might have noticed that not every person was a fan of Earth's most recent lap around the Sun. It's true, on the outside there were lots of tragedies that occurred last year (as they do every year), but it seemed more amplified this time. Both America and the UK experienced devastating political outcomes, turmoil continues to claim innocent lives in the Middle East, there were lots of tragedies around the world in the form of warfare and deliberate attacks, and a good number of notable celebrities that people looked up to passed away. That's when we turn to the arts, right?  That's what movies, TV, books, games and music are here for. We have an escape, even for just a moment. We can escape into something exciting, scary, sad, funny, tense, beautiful or just pure dumb joy. And even though it's all fictionalized (minus docs), every story is a reflection of the human condition. That's the beauty of it all. So as we look back at another year of film music, another year of music that brought stories to life across all mediums, it was important to note that we saw some great films that celebrated humanity. Whether it was coincidence or not, it seemed that storytellers around the world were looking at ways to explore the upswing of things. Sure we had our usual dose of the dark and dreary, but lots of the stories of 2016 felt intimate and small. Studio tentpoles were pretty much all forgettable in 2016, with an exception here and there. It was really the smaller and more under the radar releases that seemed to strike a chord, be it independent or in-house studio produced. And that's a cool thing to see. Like previous years we are doing a top 15. So let the countdown begin!

As with every year with our "Best" list and all our reviews, scores are ultimately judged by their effectiveness within the film's narrative and not by their standalone album experience.

15. Money Monster by Dominic Lewis

Precision and subtlety are at work in Dominic Lewis’ score to this Jodie Foster directed thriller. Dominic found a way to make the score both invisible yet present. And while there’s a lack of anything too attention-getting, the score creates tension while still giving the characters a relatable humanity.

14. The Ivory Game by H. Scott Salinas

H. Scott Salinas’ impressive streak continues with this emotionally resonating documentary about the dark world of ivory trade. In the same vein as Cartel Land, Salinas approaches the documentary head-on and doesn’t treat the music as a background device. There is a deep emotional heart that echoes the pain and sadness of the situation. The whole tone is bittersweet and unfortunately at this point there isn't a fairytale ending for this ongoing problem, but hope is instilled within the music. Here music is seen shining a light on an issue and making it instantly relatable to the audience.

13. Captain Fantastic by Alex Somers

Captain Fantastic is a special score. It’s beautiful and very human. You will go on more of an emotional journey instead of a fixed narrative one, but that approach is perfect for this film. If you’re looking for something truly fresh and original in a film score, then this is something worth getting lost in. It’s a near-perfect examination of emotional growth that may have benefited with some more tangible recurring motifs, but overall it will awaken or reawaken something inside of you for sure.

12. ABZU by Austin Wintory

Austin Wintory’s ABZU is a purely engaging and emotional journey through a game that makes you resonate deeply with the images you are seeing as you play. The score pulls you in and paints a loose narrative for you to follow, but in reality, it leaves room for the player to impose their own emotions into the narrative. While ABZU might not attain the power of Journey, it’s still some of the finest game scoring you’ll encounter.

11. Game Of Thrones: Season 6 by Ramin Djawadi

Ramin Djawadi’s work on Game Of Thrones has consistently been getting more robust and intricate as the show powers along. Season 6 was a most impressive season musically with lots of thematic variation and moments where score was allowed to shine, but never shine to much. Game Of Thrones’ music has always found a great balance of being strong or subtle depending on the needs of the scene. The score has truly hit an amazing stride here in season 6.

10. Pete's Dragon by Daniel Hart

Daniel Hart keeps his collaboration with director David Lowery going for this beautiful score to the live-action reimagining of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. The score feels unfiltered and purely organic as it taps into folk roots and translates that into big wonderful orchestral melodies. The score examines heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure and finds a way to tell the story in a manner that never feels forced.

9. Hell Or High Water by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ emotional range as storytellers is unmatched. The duo continue to explore their signature sound with this acclaimed modern western. The score cracks open the characters almost on a spiritual level by painting richly textured musical backdrops. The score lacks melodic strength, but it works within the fabric of the film with expert precision.

8. Hacksaw Ridge by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Hacksaw Ridge’s musical duties were passed from James Horner to John Debney and finally landing with Rupert Gregson-Williams. Rupert didn’t have much time to score Mel Gibson’s return to the directing chair, but the final result is nothing short of poignant and emotionally engaging. The score never becomes too big, allowing the protagonist to actually feel organic and human. We as an audience identify with whats onscreen much easier, and it leaves room for big emotions with a subtle approach that still injects heroism into this war story.

7. 10 Cloverfield Lane by Bear McCreary

Bear McCreary’s plunge into darkness for 10 Cloverfield Lane was nothing short of pure thrilling entertainment. The nods to Goldsmith, Herrmann, Debussy and Revl projected through McCreary’s signature voice made this score a shining gem. Nothing about it felt old or reused, and the entire film’s effect on the audience relied on the musical narrative. This was Bear working his magic for a tense and focused score that made the film small and personal yet big and exciting at the same time. It's a score that reinforces why we love to go to the movies.

6. The Vessel by Hanan Townshend

Hanan Townshend has gotten some well-deserved attention for his work with Terrence Malick, and here Malick helped put Hanan in touch with first time director Julio Quintana for the amazingly arresting work of The Vessel. Hanan’s score permeates the emotions and characters of the film to truly bring this story together on a spiritual level. The music is about re-kindling hope after tragedy, and the score’s structure is near perfection. The deepness of the emotional arcs are so profound and it all culminates beautifully in such a striking way that leaves a lasting fingerprint long after you finish experiencing it.

5. The Neon Demon by Cliff Martinez

When Nicolas Winding Refn and Cliff Martinez team up together, it’s worth taking notice. The auteur duo’s films will divide and even repel certain audiences. Refn’s style is unapologetic and it is not afraid of making you feel uncomfortable. Cliff’s score here somehow finds a strange and seductive way to truly bring the sexually consuming world of fashion to life. If music could sound “neon” then this would be it. The seductive yet dangerous imagery of the world Refn paints is accompanied perfectly by Cliff’s sonic palette. While this film as a whole may leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth (in a devious good way), it's Refn's imagery working with Martinez's sound that makes this an effective piece of auteur cinema.

4. Moana by Mark Mancina [Songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i & Mark Mancina]

The Disney formula comes to life with the rich and vivid musical world of Moana. Composer Mark Mancina goes the route of scoring the film and co-writing/producing the songs with Lin-Manuel Miranda & Opetaia Foa’i. That results in a lush quilt of song and score that gives each character a unique voice within the fabric of the film’s music. The score on its own may not connect due to shorter track times, but in the film it works wonders. You feel the wind in your hair and the deep emotional journey of Moana as she sets out to discover her true calling in life. The whole journey culminates in a very gorgeous and emotional climax that is fueled by the human spirit to break-free and pave your own path.

3. The Man In The High Castle: Season 2 by Dominic Lewis

Hello darkness my old friend. Dominic Lewis makes a well-earned second appearance on this list with his absolutely perfect approach for Season 2 of The Man In The High Castle. The show’s rich and detailed production value is reflected in the wonderfully structured approach Lewis took with the score. The melodic arcs and themes build towards a grand finale. Deep emotions echo melodies that feel born of the characters. While it’s not a cheery world to be lost in, there is beauty in it. The organic emotions shine through making this a late in the year shining example of some of the best TV scoring all year. The score is a wonderful example of character exploration and how to approach tension with forward momentum. The score is a progressive step upwards from last season and raises the bar extremely high for season 3.

2. Eddie The Eagle by Matthew Margeson

Early in the year we were surprised by one of the most full of life scores of recent memory. Matthew Margeson not only wrote a score that took us back to amazing underdog stories of the past, but was full of themes and melodies that sent chills and brought tears of hopeful joy. Eddie The Eagle’s synth approach may give some people a nostalgia trip, but it feels so right alongside with the picture. Margeson found something truly special about the human spirit to overcome here, and it speaks volumes by carrying the entire movie on its back. Sure the score and film are formulaic, but in the best way possible. If life is ever getting you down for whatever reason, a score and film like this can shine some much needed light to let you know that overcoming odds is part of life. If a piece of art can make you feel happy to be alive by the end of it, that's something really special. And that's the case here with Eddie The Eagle.

1. La La Land by Justin Hurwitz [Songs by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Hasek & Justin Paul]

La La Land is one of those special experiences that comes along and makes you feel happy to be alive. It’s an experience of song and score that are stitched together to form a musical quilt of melodies wonderfully structured to form the narrative. With Justin Hurwitz writing every melody in the film, including all the music for the songs and then having Benj Hasek and Justin Paul write lyrics to those melodies, the film comes to vivid life. You’re taken on an emotional journey in classic musical fashion that is an ode to the genre but also its own unique modern interpretation of the genre as well. If you are ever at a low point in your life or having a hard time, La La Land along with its music is a reaffirmation that life’s journey is worth living. And that includes every high point of joy and every low point of sorrow.

Reboots, Remakes & Hate: Why No One Is Ruining Your Childhood

posted Jul 15, 2016, 2:26 PM by Kaya Savas

Film, TV and games are special. They are the most popular way of telling stories and we as the human race become so vehemently attached to them. To me it’s a fascinating exploration of the human condition, to see how passionate people can get when it comes to their favorite movies and TV shows. And here’s the thing, I totally get it. The world totally gets it. I grew up watching certain movies, watching certain TV shows and playing certain video games. Is it weird that I can recite every line of Tremors or Michael Bay’s The Rock? Maybe a little weird. Do I become glued to my screen and pay attention to every painstaking aesthetic detail when I watch Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West? I do. But guess what I don’t do? I don’t go apeshit and become an annoying ball of negativity on the internet if the entertainment industry decides to reboot, remake or make a sequel to something I loved growing up. And neither should you.

I decided to write this article because all the swirling hate around the new Ghostbusters has finally made me want to spill my thoughts out in writing. This article is mainly aimed at those people who immediately come out of the gate with hate in their heart, and not just over Ghostbusters. Negativity is swirling in our culture right now. There are so many things wrong in the world, and entertainment is our escape. It’s our way to laugh, our way to cry, to be scared, to be thrilled all in the quiet safety of a dark room. So when I see the comments “ruined my childhood”, “this will suck”, “what a disgrace to the original”, “how could they?” it kind of grinds my gears.

I ask the question, why do you hate? Why do you automatically pass negative judgement? Why are you negative? There’s enough hate in the world. We don’t need your hate towards a harmless movie or TV show. We don’t need your negativity to the casting decision of the latest reboot or how in the hell could they have picked that director. We can do without your predisposed automatic hate. Why is it that remaking something or doing a sequel automatically means that your childhood didn't exist? And that got me thinking, why do people get borderline offended when something is “different”?

I’ll try to use some examples beyond the new Ghostbusters, such as the new Star Trek film series. Star Trek Beyond comes out this year, and we all know how passionate Trekkies are. Here’s the deal, I never watched Star Trek. Not a single minute of Star Trek before I saw the JJ Abrams reboot. And guess what, I enjoyed it immensely. Then I read up on it and see how so many diehard Star Trek fans say that it’s “not Star Trek”. So from their point of view they think it has now ruined everything that has come before it, and I’m here to say no it hasn’t. This incarnation of Star Trek is a reflection of the time it was made in, just like the past entries in film and TV are a reflection of their time. Just because these new Star Trek films are being made, doesn't mean someone is going to go back and delete the originals from the archives so no one can ever see them again.

Then there is the point where the Star Trek fans feel betrayed, which I also get. Like, hey, we are the true fans and we deserve a film made for us. Not an attempt of making it more mainstream. At this point we are getting into some pretty petty fandom frustration. When you’re argument is “But that’s now how it should be! The original character was…”, it just means you can’t accept that maybe your favorite series has evolved. Maybe the world is taking a good idea and evolving it, or hell maybe it's evolving into something bad. Either way though, it's changing and for some reason that's not good?

There is one film series that has endured time and is a testament to why it’s great to tell the same story over and over except by different storytellers. That series is James Bond. The James Bond films have survived from 1962 all the way to now. The first question that always pops up? Well, it’s always “So whose your favorite Bond?”. And almost always, it’s usually which actor who played Bond you saw first. People who grew up with Connery usually say Connery, people who grew up with Moore usually say Moore. Yes there are even Dalton fans as well. Me, I grew up in the 90’s and the first Bond film I saw was GoldenEye. I also played GoldenEye 64 for years upon years. But guess what, it inspired me to watch the entire film series and explore how different actors and directors approached this character. While there is always some gripe when a new Bond comes out, it rarely is met with predisposed hate as most reboots/remakes are. People are usually excited to see it even though he’s bagged the babe and killed the bad guy 20 something times before. James Bond is the perfect example of what storytelling is.

If your parents, uncles, aunts or grandparents read you stories and books when you were little then you experienced the whole idea of what we know now as the “reboot” or “remake”. If your mom or dad opened up Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham and read that to you when you were little, guess what? They did it in their own way, used their own inflections, maybe even changed their voices. Anyway, the point is that your parent read it in a unique way that no other person got to hear. The story will remain the same, but it will have tiny changes depending on who tells it.

A friend of mine once told me she had never ever seen The Lion King with the original English voice cast. She had always watched the Spanish dubbed version since she was little. She said when she saw the original cast version for the first time that it felt strange and different. She prefers the voices she grew up with, and hey that is totally awesome and okay! That always stuck with me and made me realize that we have no right to judge people on what they like or what they are attached to. Sure we can form our own opinions and I can say, cool, I grew up with the original and I like that. It doesn’t devalue my friend or the Spanish voice cast of The Lion King.

Let me tie this back to me one more time. I LOVE John Carpenter’s The Thing, it’s my favorite horror film. But guess what? Do I trash the original novella it was based off of? Do I trash the original film adaptation from 1951 titled The Thing from Another World? No. When the 2011 prequel/remake came out, did I think it looked kind of bad? Yes I did. Did I run an internet campaign of hate towards it? No. I ignored it. And guess what! No one came to confiscate and crack my Blu-ray in half of John Carpenter’s The Thing. It still exists and it’s still my favorite.

Coming up they are releasing a new and modern adaptation of Ben-Hur. Both this super-slick CGI Ben-Hur and the iconic film starring Charlton Heston were based off the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace. I anticipate a generous amount of hate directed towards the new Ben-Hur, but guess what? Some people are gonna like this new Ben-Hur even if you or film critics trash it. You can’t stop stories from being re-told in different styles or ways.

In the end, that’s all that it is. Our favorite stories will be re-told over and over to new generations, because we enjoy hearing them from different points of view. Sure there are business decisions behind every film made, and sure studios want to make as much profit as they can. A studio’s decision to reboot or make a sequel can be a lazy one driven by profit anticipation, but the filmmakers behind the movie are doing their very best to tell a beloved story in a new way. Just like your parents tried to read you your favorite bedtime stories in their own special way. At the end of the day, these are just movies and tv shows. This marriage of moving pictures and sound is our entertainment, it’s our escape. It’s an amazing art form and it’s a reflection of us as a species. Films will always be a reflection of us, our lives and the current state of our society. They will change, they evolve and they will adapt. But our favorite stories will continue to be re-told time and time again. And I hope you understand that’s not a bad thing. Just because there is a new Ghostbusters or a new Ben-Hur doesn't mean the originals cease to exist. Just because Disney is choosing to do live-action versions of all their classic animated titles doesn't mean the originals have been replaced. Were they likely business decisions by the studio to reboot properties with built-in recognition? Yes, probably. But all the best stories will always have built-in recognition. It just means that the story means so much to people that it was deemed worthy to re-tell.

There are so many things to be angry about in the world, and I wish movies and TV were not one of them. The amount of effort people put into driving their negativity online is quite sad. It’s great to be passionate about things, it supports our individuality and uniqueness. We define ourselves by our favorite things, and that’s awesome. We’re on a planet with 7.5 billion people on it, so feeling special and unique every now and then is important. I get that seeing a reboot of your favorite movie of all time might trigger you to defend it and protect it like you were defending yourself, because yes we are so attached to what we love. So the new Ghostbusters might make someone who grew up and love the original feel obsolete and devalued, I get that completely. But I hope people embrace change and evolution as our society continually grows.

Let’s finish with Bond. So whether you grew up with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby (all 3 of you), Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig playing Bond. The point is, you probably like 1 Bond actor over the rest. You might prefer the Sean Connery forced kissing and lady-spanking Bond, or the goofy Looney Tunes antics of Roger Moore’s Bond, George Lazenby's awkward Bond, Timothy Dalton's straight-faced Bond, the spiffy one-liners of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond or Daniel Craig’s emotionless revenge seeking Bond. In the end it’s the same thing just told differently. We’re all entitled to love and hate things, but don’t take it so personally where you push your hate onto others. If you feel devalued simply because a different version of what you like is out there in the world, just remember that you can still define yourself with what you grew up with, and that makes it even more special now that others might define themselves with a different incarnation of the story. This goes for movies, TV shows, games, foods, religion, ideologies, clothes, hell everything. Be kind, people. Don’t add to hate, just take pride in individuality.

Brian Tyler Live In Concert

posted May 22, 2016, 12:35 PM by Leo Mayr

More and more composers are doing live concerts of their music and while I have heard of several of these film music concerts before, I never really bothered to look into attending one. That changed when Brian Tyler announced he would be conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall in London. I instantly wanted to go and, after some planning, was able to secure tickets to both the concert and a flight to London on the very same day. While I was patiently awaiting May 7th, I started doubting my decision. Would a concert consisting mostly of music I already have on my phone be worth the flight tickets? Would they even perform music I like?

On the day of the concert, I was patiently waiting at the doors to the concert hall still not quite certain about what to expect. That, and if my considerable investment made into a cheap seat and a not so cheap flight had been well considered. It truly was a strange and unique experience. I had never left my home country on my own before, never attended such a huge concert and never heard the kind of music I really, REALLY like performed live. There's a reason I stopped playing any instruments, that reason being that I can only really enjoy orchestral music (well, film and videogame scores) and good luck playing an orchestra on your living room couch. The sheer size of the orchestra and choir still surprised me, so as the nice employees of the Royal Festival Hall reminded people not to take pictures (noone seemed to care) I still was not believing I had actually gone to see THE Brian Tyler live.

When the concert finally started, the opening piece was the main theme from Thor: The Dark World. Saying the music blew me away would be a massive understatement. From that first minute, two things were very clear to me. Firstly, I would never ever be able to listen to Tyler's music the same way as before. And the fact that I would almost definitely suffer from some form of hearing impairment before the night was done. It's one thing to have the music on your phone, plug it into some speakers and turn up the volume but nothing can prepare you to the sound of a full orchestra. Perhaps that's a side effect of choosing the cheap seats in row three, only a few meters away from the stage. For some pieces, Tyler took the time to give the audience a bit of background information or even an amusing story along the way, probably to give the musicians a few moments to catch their breaths. Most pieces performed were the main themes of some of Tyler's greatest scores, including Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fast Five, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem and so many more. Except for a few slower pieces from scores like Partition and Far Cry 3, orchestra and audience alike were not allowed to calm down for more than a few seconds before pieces. Besides the many "main themes" performed, Tyler also featured a couple of compositions for specific scenes, such as Into Eternity from Thor: The Dark World and Rise Together from Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

Among all these incredible pieces of music, I even got to hear a few pieces I had not known before, including a piece from his music for Star Trek Enterprise that I have been desperately looking for ever since. If it ever was released to the public, I have yet to find it. Another new piece was from his upcoming score to Now You See Me 2, though I believe getting that will be a lot easier once the film is in cinemas. To mix things up a little, music from Hawaii Five-O as well as Tyler's recent Drift And Fall Again were performed. To my surprise, Tyler announced a piece from John Williams's Superman score that perfectly fit in with the rest of the music. After nearly two hours of music (and only a rather short break), while my ears were glad at the thought of the concert being over, I found it difficult to accept that it was over and there would not be anything like it for quite some time. The concert was this huge event, somewhere over the horizon and now that it is long over, I am quite sad at the thought I may never be able to experience music like that again.

While I had my doubts at first, going to see Brian Tyler live in concert was probaly my best decision in a while. It was the kind of experience I wish had never ended and it was on the plane back home that I thought to myself, if there was another concert just like this one next week, I'd go again. That's when I realized that even though it came at a considerable price, this was a weekend (and money) well spent. I am thankful to Brian Tyler and everyone involved for making this possible and am desperately hoping for a second concert in the near future.

Photos Courtesy Of Brian Tyler

Hans Zimmer Live On Tour: Stunning The Audience In Mannheim, Germany

posted May 10, 2016, 2:20 AM by

April 16th 2016 was definitely an important date in my life. Why, you ask? I was able to attend a Hans Zimmer concert in the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany! I had been waiting for this moment for such a long time. Hans' music has been an integral part of my life since forever as his music got me hooked at a very early age. From his first Hollywood score Rain Man to Driving Miss Daisy, Thelma & Louise, A League Of Their Own, Black Rain, Backdraft, The Lion King, Beyond Rangoon, The Rock, Crimson Tide, The Dark Knight Trilogy and so many more. His musical style, his ability and his genius to craft either a very emotional and subtle or a bombastic piece of music has always fascinated me and he has rightfully taken his spot in film music history as one of the greatest composers.

In 2009, I believe it was, Hans toyed with the idea of staging some concerts and I was excited already. Unfortunately, it was impossible at that time, since Hans had simply always been so busy. When in November 2015 it was announced that Hans would stage a European Tour and that he would also show up in Germany and kick things off in Mannheim, I was beyond excited and I could not order my ticket fast enough. It was a dream come true, and the whole tour is a true gift for every one of Hans' many fans. 38 dates in total all across Europe. This is huge indeed and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience one hell of a musical ride!

Now, let's take a look at the show in Mannheim. I was pumped and excited already weeks before the concert and my nervousness got bigger and bigger the closer the concert got. At 8pm the arena was packed and everybody was waiting for the spectacle to begin. Then it happened: The opening bars of Driving Miss Daisy  were played and then the master walked on stage to a huge applause. Hans sat down at the piano playing the "Driving Miss Daisy Theme" and then Richard Harvey and the other band members joined in to perform one of Hans' catchiest themes ever. After a trip down memory lane with Miss Daisy, Sherlock Holmes and "Discombobulate" took over. The band including for instance Ann Marie Simpson, Richard Harvey, Nick Glennie-Smith, Tina Guo and Rusanda Panfili did a great job performing this particular piece, which was a part of the opening medley. Yet, we were not quite through with said medley and in addition to the band, the orchestra joined in for a great performance of "Rescue Me" from Madagascar 2. When the full string section came to life, it simply put a big smile on my face! We were ten minutes into the show and in my opinion it could not have started with better feel good moments. What an awesome start!

Rusanda Panfili, Tina Guo, Ann Marie Simpson & Hans Zimmer

Then Hans took some time to welcome the audience and he not only was a musician that night but also a host, explaining some details about the movies and how certain things came together. He did so with Crimson Tide. He stated that incorporating a choir into the score was a decision the producers were not too thrilled about at first but Hans convinced them after all and the rest, as they say, is history. Crimson Tide is one of Hans' landmark scores and I love it to this very day. Now, let's go on with the concert, since the audience was in for a real treat: A medley of Crimson Tide and Angels & Demons. Crimson Tide was rearranged and they started with the choir part which could be heard in full glory on the album's piece “Roll Tide”. What a fantastic way to start this medley. After the choir, Guthrie Govan took over playing the electric guitar and then the "Crimson Tide Theme", which is beloved by so many fans, was performed wonderfully with great string playing and fantastic choral moments. This piece was one of the stand out moments of the entire night and the build-up of the theme, the arrangement and the performance were absolutely outstanding. After Crimson Tide, drummer Satnam Ramgotra performed a great drum solo which also served as the transition to "160 BPM" from Angels & Demons. This entire segment was phenomenal and it delivered a musical spectacle that left me speechless. The sheer energy and force of the orchestra and choir absolutely stunned the audience. What a night so far.

Then, as Hans put it, we were going from one Scott brother to another. Gladiator, one of Hans' best, most glorious and emotional scores was next on the list. This score has been in my Zimmer Top 5 for a long time now, and the entire album presentation as well as the impact inside the film itself are incredible. The score simply remains one of Hans' crowning achievements to this day. This medley was arranged very well, covering several score highlights. Before the medley started, Hans gave another introduction, talking about Ridley Scott and also Lisa Gerrard, who could not attend the tour. Yet, another great singer, Czarina Russell, performed instead. She really captured the beauty of “The Wheat” and as heard on the original Gladiator album, there was the seamless transition to “The Battle”, which is one of Hans' best pieces ever. Hans this time played the guitar and the entire band, plus orchestra gave us a bravura performance. The medley was concluded by the emotional “Honor Him” and Ms. Russell's beautiful vocal performance of “Now We Are Free”.

To me, one of the best scores of Hans' entire career has got to be The Da Vinci Code. A score of absolute beauty and emotion. For the concert, they picked one of the album's stand out pieces: "Chevaliers De Sangreal". The opening bars were played and Rusanda Panfili slowly walked to the center of the stage. Her violin playing was simply wonderful and intriguing, as was Tina Guo's cello performance.The entire build-up of the piece and the climactic moments were thrilling and gave me goosebumps once again.

The evening just kept getting better and better, since next on the list was The Lion King. It is a phenomenal score and I was especially excited for this part. The great Lebo M walked out on stage and gave us the fantastic and memorable chant which accompanied the opening credits of the movie. It was great to see Lebo up there and hear his magnificent voice which we could also marvel at in “Lea Halalela” a beautiful piece which was featured on the album Rhythm Of The Pride Lands. The fantastic medley came to an end with the stellar “King Of Pride Rock”. WOW, this part delivered moments of excellence, beauty and absolute nostalgia. It brought back so many childhood memories and it felt like a journey through time!

Lebo M, Zoe Mthiyane, Czarina Russell & Hans Zimmer

The concert was really on a roll and so far worth every penny of the admission and the audience clearly loved it!  We were in for yet another treat and stunning moments: Pirates Of The Caribbean is one of those movies that basically everybody knows and back in 2003, the film quickly became a huge hit. The same goes for the music. Those tunes are so well known all over the world and I was really looking forward to this segment, which delivered further incredible moments of the night and the entire performance of “Jack Sparrow”, the "Marry Me Suite" and "He's a Pirate" were simply a knock out. So far there had been quite a few moments that left me absolutely speechless with my jaw on the floor, but this was something else. After this world class and fun performance, both the musicians and the audience took a break to relax and I guess many in the audience really needed the intermission to simply process what they had experienced so far!

Roughly thirty minutes after the break, Hans and band returned to the stage, performing a more lighthearted piece from True Romance and I must say "You're So Cool" heard live is indeed as cool as ever. It was great to hear something lighthearted, since it not only offered great variety but the audience could also relax a bit, since some of the biggest and strongest pieces were yet to come.

Hans' first score in Hollywood is still one of my favorites to this day. Rain Man is not only a fantastic film, but the score is a perfect fit for the film as well. Hans sat down at the piano again and played his lovely theme. The band pitched in and the result was a great version of one of Hans' most important themes ever.

Next on the list was a piece of music which had quickly become quite popular and it certainly is an interesting piece, yet at first, I did not think it was a necessary part of the concert program. However, as soon as the piece was performed this impression quickly changed and I simply liked the energetic presentation of “What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World”. By saying it might not have been a necessity as far as the musical selection is concerned, I simply meant to bring across that there are so many pieces I would have loved to hear that night. Pieces of other fantastic scores that had been left out. But at the end of the day, you have to make a decision about the musical presentation. Nevertheless, the Man Of Steel presentation was very good!

Now let's examine one of Hans' best known and most impressive pieces of music ever. A piece which has been used in quite a few trailers throughout the years and a piece that to this day always gives me goosebumps. The entire score stands as one of Hans Zimmer's finest achievements. Yes, I am talking about “Journey To The Line” from the Thin Red Line. This cue is simply magical as was the playing that night.

After this breathtaking last part, things got a little crazier, louder and more colorful: It was "Electro” time. This part was quite something to say the very least. It was a crazy and absolutely unbelievable on stage performance. The lighting was once again amazing, the sound was forceful, the choir was great and it was simply put, one hell of a concert experience. WOW, I was simply speechless and completely blown away, not to mention overwhelmed!

Speaking of overwhelming: The Dark Knight segment followed. This way beyond exciting and simply absolutely amazing. "The Joker Suite" was on first and the execution and presentation were indescribable and simply unlike anything I had ever seen on stage before. The first part was followed by a fabulous rock arrangement of “Like A Dog Chasing Cars”. Things got even more powerful with a combination of “Gothams's Reckoning” and “The Fire Rises”. This part really knocked my socks off! The world class playing and the power of this segment represented some of the most awe-inspiring moments of the entire concert. After musical “chaos and mayhem”, things turned emotional as Hans told the story of the origins of the beautiful “Aurora” which was given a great choir treatment and it was a fitting end to the entire Dark Knight segment.

The entire concert went by so fast and with the next part of the list we had nearly reached the end of a fantastic show. I am glad the music of Christopher Nolan's most recent masterpiece had also been selected. The film itself is awesome and the music is an integral part of this cinematic journey. This was one of my most frequently played albums of 2014 and it simply stands as one of Hans' very best scores for a Nolan picture. The gentle touch and hypnotic sound was brilliantly captured that night. The segment began with the beautiful "Day One" and was followed by “No Time For Caution” which quickly became a fan favorite and it was brought to new life that night. The medley was closed by an emotional version of "Stay". This time the original string motif was played on the electric guitar by Guthrie Govan and the climactic moments were beautifully captured by the entire orchestra.

The audience applauded like crazy and gave a well-deserved standing ovation. Hans asked whether his fans liked what they heard that night and they responded with a huge round of applause. Was this the end? Yes, at least according to the program. However, the fans would not yet leave the arena and certain sound fragments indicated what would be up next: A special Inception encore. Inception probably stands as one of Mr. Nolan's most complex and best films yet. The score inside the picture had captured my attention right from the beginning when it was released. Fans experienced one more special medley with the opening bars of “Half Remembered Dream”, the wonderful "Dream Is Collapsing", the highly energetic and entertaining "Mombasa" and of course "Time" ,which closed the show brilliantly and delivered yet another emotional moment.

Hans Zimmer

What can I say about this night and concert? It was a special occasion filled with powerful, emotional and also very nostalgic and magical moments. A concert of this magnitude had been desired by many fans for years and finally their wish had been granted. The musicianship, the energy, the excitement, the fun, the execution, it was simply beyond awesome and one of the greatest moments in my life. I was definitely highly satisfied with the musical selection, even though, as a long time Hans Zimmer fan, I can certainly think of so many pieces that would have made that night even more special and magical. Yet, the final presentation made me a very happy man, and it was a one-of-a-kind experience and a gift to every Hans Zimmer fan out there. Furthermore, I would like to thank Hans Zimmer for his brilliant music. I would like to thank everybody involved in the making of this huge tour and I would like to thank our friends at for supplying every fan with all the necessary information about Hans in general and this tour in particular. I will never ever forget this night. I was able to see one of my all time favorite composers live on stage. It was a fantastic musical journey. Those are the moments in life which I will never ever take for granted, moments that every fan should treasure and moments that will last forever.

Photo Credit:
Pierre Futsch

Special thanks to our friends at
Nicolas Cabarrou
Pierre Futsch
Stéphane Humez
Maxime Marion

Slipped Through The Cracks 3

posted Apr 6, 2016, 11:09 AM by Leo Mayr

With the sheer number of films and soundtrack releases that come out on a weekly basis, it's not possible that we can cover every single one. Film.Music.Media tries to be your #1 source for coverage on the newest and most recent releases, but it's inevitable that some may slip through the cracks. This isn't to say the ones that were missed are worthy of ignoring. So in an effort to shine a light on some of the scores we missed during  their initial releases, here's a little spotlight on those that deserve it.

Missed the others?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
(by Jeremy Soule)
The very first videogame I played that was not on my old Nintendo DS. Few other games managed to grab my attention like Skyrim did. It is an absolutely wonderful game and Jeremy Soule's incredible music makes the player's journey even more memorable. From the incredible "Dragonborn" theme to the calm atmospheric "Wind Guide You", this score is full of outstanding music that made playing the game a one of a kind experience. I honestly can't imagine Bethesda or Jeremy Soule ever accomplishing anything even remotely as great with a future sequel. If you somehow lived in a hermit's cave for the last decade and have never heard the music, then what are you waiting for?

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
(by Power Glove)
Far Cry 3's standalone expansion Blood Dragon defined itself through creating a future as imagined by someone from the 1980s. So atop uncountable 80's references, the fully electronic music stands out as the heart of the experience. Where modern shooters rely on pulsating action to get players engaged, Blood Dragon is simply fun. It's not a very serious score, instead it feels very exciting, even bold and heroic.

Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine
(by Austin Wintory)
Austin Wintory only recently got to my attention with his incredibly outstandingly amazing score to Assassin's Creed Syndicate. So one afternoon I decided to see what other projects he had worked on and was surprised to find out he had composed the music for Monaco, a game I thoroughly enjoyed. The music is mostly played by a piano, here and there a few other sounds emerge but luckily not too often. When playing the game, you'll notice the music changung from slower sections into all out frantic chaos as you run away from enemy guards, creating a fun experience, both for the game and the album. A truly unique and memorable experience.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Extended Soundtrack)
(by Ludvig Forssell, Akihiro Honda, Rina Yugi, Moe Jono & Steve Henifin)
I really enjoyed the music in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and it's little brother Ground Zeroes for the sudden bursts of excitement. The first score album featured most of the game's more exciting music but 'most' is not everything. The recently released Extended Soundtrack changed that. The word 'extended' may be a little misleading as the new album features no music already included in the first release and only adds new tracks to the collection. While a lot of the music is electronic ambient music, there are a lot of great exciting moments hidded among the 114 tracks. While for the average consumer, 5 hours and 44 minutes of music (combined with the first album thats over 8 hours!) might be a little too much, I have been wanting a score album like that for a loooong time. I really wish more scores would just be released in their entirety instead of a 40-60 minute album. While this extended release definitely has foregettable moments, I am really happy to have gotten it.

Filmmaker Terrence Malick’s Wagnerian Wonder

posted Mar 4, 2016, 8:19 AM by Kaya Savas

by Gilbert Colon


Like so much of Terrence Malick’s past work, his upcoming motion picture Knight of Cups, scheduled for stateside release in March, is pervaded and punctuated by a steady stream of classical music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, Edvard Grieg, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Johann Pachelbel, Arcangelo Corelli, and others.  His last film To the Wonder, released 2013, providentially marked the German Romantic composer Richard Wagner’s 200th anniversary by employing two arrangements of Parsifal’s Prelude to Act One, the first performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra and conducted by Valery Gergiev.  

The second is a rescoring by To the Wonder’s New Zealand-born Hanan Townshend, a composer whose credits include Malick’s Oscar-nominated The Tree of Life and Knight of Cups.  (Townshend told Paul Maher Jr., author of One Big Soul: An Oral History of Terrence Malick, that except for his Parsifal Prelude rendition – titled “Ascension” – and a re-recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Alleluia from Christmas Cantata No. 142, other arrangements of his did not make it into the final film.)  Speaking to Anobium (“Diving Down The Rabbit Hole,” 6/11/13), Townshend explained that the reason for his own Parsifal rendition was because “Terry...wanted to do something a little different with these pieces [which] were very difficult to use.”  The new orchestration allowed them to “create some interesting transitions between the music and the picture.”  The result is


“...a very fragmented kind of film score [that] if you really’ll notice that a lot of the pieces have been cut up and pasted... [Terry’s] jumping from Bach to Wagner to Górecki; all these composers who have completely different sounds and completely different orchestrations.”


Nevertheless, rearranging existing compositions turned out to be the ideal solution for Townshend because when


“[Terry’s] attached to a particular piece by Wagner there is nothing I can do to try and get away from him. So, I was kind of giving him a lot of strettos on here, which is simplified, just the themes and tried to simplify them, so that’s what I did for Tree and then with To the Wonder it was sort of the same territory apart from this time I was going to write the score so he wanted stuff that really was underscore, stuff that could really just sit down underneath the picture almost and come into your subconscious mind as opposed to the bigger stuff that was classical repertoire.” 


Despite this, the Parsifal Prelude remains manifestly recognizable in the three places it occurs. 


Malick is esteemed as a cinematic visualist whose striking imagery takes precedence over narrative and even dialogue, but classical music has long been a strategic component of his aural storytelling vocabulary ever since utilizing Carl Orff’s Gassenhauer in his first film, BadlandsTo the Wonder includes some of the same individual pieces Malick used in The Tree of Life – Hector Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, Ottorino Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, and Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Song.  Further supplementing To the Wonder is the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov and, most pertinently here, Richard Wagner and his Parsifal, the Bühnenweihfestspiel opera recounting the acts and deeds of the knights who guard and serve the cup of the Last Supper, the Holy Grail. 


In The Hollywood Reporter (9/4/12), reviewer Todd McCarthy gave us his firsthand impressions of To the Wonder from the Venice Film Festival premiere:


“... from [Olga] Kurylenko’s Marina, we hear about Mont Saint-Michel as a place classically referred to as ‘the wonder’ as she and her man (Ben Affleck) walk through the wet sand around the monument off the shore of Normandy to the profound strains of the prelude to the first act of Wagner’s Parsifal.  ‘Love makes us one,’ Marina intones, and she and her guy ... do seem very much in love.” 


Mont Saint-Michel stands as a potent symbol of love and the divine, the Parsifal Prelude its musical motif, and – as such – functions as the central visual leitmotif for the characters’ inner lives.  As the film’s production notes poetically elaborate:


“The small town feel in Oklahoma is intensified by the contrasting Old World (and otherworldly) setting on Mont St. Michel, an island off the coast of Normandy, France. As the story opens, Neil and Marina are at the height of their romance, basking in the sun on a beautiful, rocky beach on Mont St. Michel, ... known in France as the Merveille, or ‘Wonder.’ Merveille, a top destination of pilgrims and tourists, is best known for its abbey and cloisters. Monks have lived on the island in search of solitude since the sixth century. The dramatic cloisters that rise up to the sky suggest a place somewhere between heaven and earth, reality and fantasy – an apt place to begin Marina and Neil’s story.” 

The first melodic notes of the Parsifal Prelude sound when Neil and Marina’s hands clasp in close-up against a blinding bright white backdrop, “the warmth of the … spiritual light” spoken of by a sexton later in the film.  Together they explore the cloister garden’s outer ring, Neil reverently touching its centuries-old columns and the two covering each other afterwards with kisses and caresses.  Finally Wagner’s theme ebbs while the abbatial tidal waters flow inland and serenely engulf the islet shores of the sunken cathedral.  So important is the Prelude music that it can even be heard in the film’s American trailer.  The production notes share more details about the love the couple shares, some of it not explicit in the final film:


“As To the Wonder opens, Neil and Marina are together on the French island of Mont St. Michel – known in France as The Wonder of the Western World (Merveille de l’Occident) – and invigorated by feelings of being newly in love. Neil, an aspiring writer, has left the United States in search of a better life, leaving behind a string of unhappy affairs. Looking into Marina’s eyes as the Abbey looms in the distance, Neil is certain he has finally found the one woman he can love with commitment. He makes a vow to be true to this woman alone.” 


It is Mont Saint-Michel as Monsalvat, the medieval Benedictine monastery standing in for the Grail Temple.  Within its walls are the wondrous promises of sacramental love and quest’s end, the Eucharistic Liebesmahl of the Grail Knights’ agape in Parsifal, and connubial bliss in Malick’s.  However Derrick Everett, writing for Monsalvat: The Parsifal Home Page, says about the Prelude’s Third Movement:


“New ideas, later to be related to the pain and Agony [motif] of Amfortas, are subtly introduced into the fabric, suggesting that beneath the confident, sunlit surface, all is not well in the domain of the Grail.” 


These same dark forebodings apply to the trajectory of Marina and Neil’s love.  What begins as storybook romance turns into marital disintegration as Neil falls for an old sweetheart (Rachel McAdams) back in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  It is at this stage that To the Wonder threatens to become Malick’s Scenes from a Marriage, albeit leavened by a signature transcendence absent in Ingmar Bergman.  Townshend, quoted from a press release published by Film Score Monthly, pinpoints this descent directly to the opening frames of the film and its Act One tones of Parsifal’s Prelude:


“The scene at the top of Mont Saint-Michel, where Neil and Marina are at the height of their love, is where I see the true heart of the film being. It is the moment where their love is at its purest and truest form, but is also the pivotal moment where we see this love, and as a result their relationship, slowly begin to fade.” 


The second time the Parsifal Prelude swells is when Marina, after making a long pent-up confession in church and finally receiving Holy Communion, gives into unfaithfulness during a cheap motel rendezvous with another man.  Marina and Neil’s sacred love leitmotif is purposefully misappropriated and violated so as to contrast it to the idyllic springtime of their original passion.  Wagnerites will be reminded of King Amfortas and the mortal sin of the flesh that keeps him from embracing the Grail’s grace, with the despoiled Oklahoma landscape around To the Wonder’s couple a wounded Waste Land whose polluted soil bubbles up with toxins. 

It is significant that Malick chooses not Claude Debussy’s piano Prelude to the Merveille, La cathédrale engloutie, as one might expect, but Wagner.  This is not the first time Malick has preferred Wagner.  In his poetic retelling of the Pocahontas legend, The New World, the director selects another Wagner Prelude, this one from the First Act of Das Rheingold (performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Edo de Waart), when he could have opted for Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony.  The longer version of that film, The New World: The Extended Cut, goes further and scores the love between John Smith and Pocahontas to Das Rheingold’s Entry of the Gods into Valhalla.  It is unsurprising that David Sterritt of Film Quarterly (“Days of Heaven and Waco,” Fall 2011) asserts:


“One of my strongest impressions regarding The Tree of Life is that no filmmaker has ever come closer to creating an authentic Gesamtkunstwerk [total artwork] ... and Malick approaches the Gesamtkunstwerk ideal via his truly Wagnerian orchestration of framing and composition in conjunction with poetic language and dialogue, verbal and gestural performance, source music and underscoring, costume, architecture, and décor.” 


The third and last time Wagner enters To the Wonder’s soundtrack, as he does in the final scenes of The New World, is for an enigmatic ending that assures us, with its closing shot of Mont Saint-Michel and the resumption of the Parsifal Prelude, that come what may, Marina – framed in a cinematographic composition that conjures another work of German Romanticism, the Caspar David Friedrich painting “Woman Before the Rising Sun” – will never lose sight of “the Wonder.”  Before that, Marina waltzes across a picturesque land – in a theme familiar to those acquainted with the Wagner opera’s Fisher King elements – restored from desolation to natural beauty, its lush greenery teeming with wildlife and budding trees in full blossom.  The Parsifal Prelude too, previously cheapened and deliberately debased in the infidelity interlude, is by the end restored to its former glory and meaning.  Though Marina is not the “Rose-bloom of Hell” that Parsifal’s Kundry is, like Wagner’s cursed witch she does come to repent of her past.  Once she has done so, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) ministers to her the sacramental “well-spring of blood divine” from a chalice easily interpreted as a subtle visualization of the musical Gralmotiv from Parsifal

This Fr. Quintana, a priest enduring the dark night of the soul, counsels, “You fear your love has died; it perhaps is waiting to be transformed into something higher.”  This “perhaps” poses the open-ended question as to whether To the Wonder truly and definitively concludes in “Holy, highest wonder!” as did Parsifal (i.e., spiritual healing and regeneration), or a form of Liebestod as was the literal case for Princess Pocahontas whose final scene in The New World mirrors that of Marina’s.  Both sequences are set to Wagner, incidentally, and in many ways, these two strangers in a strange land are free and kindred spirits. 

With only a montage and Parsifal’s complementary chords for clues, it is a deliberately opaque epilogue that frees pilgrims to ponder whether Marina and Neil were put asunder or ascended “the Wonder” and its sacred steps once again. 




Dedicated to Jean Bradley, cellist extraordinaire and mother
of treasured friend and mentor
Matthew R. Bradley


GILBERT COLON is a guest writer on Film.Music.Media and can be read at Cinema Retro, Filmfax, Crime Factory, Crimespree Magazine, bare•bones, the St. Martin’s Press newsletter, and RELEVANT Magazine, among other places. 

Write him at  

Film stills courtesy of Magnolia Pictures and The Film Stage.

1-10 of 75