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Broken Arrow: Expanded Score by Hans Zimmer (Review)

posted Feb 21, 2011, 10:29 AM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 11:26 PM ]

The year is 1996 and it was in this year I found film scores. I owe my whole love for scores to Hans and it began in 1996. It wasn't Broken Arrow though that lured me into this world. A little Michael Bay film came out the same year and had a score by Nick Glennie-Smith, Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams. That was my beginning. I did however eventually come across this score early in my childhood too. The fact that I was listening to it just a few weeks before this release was even announced is a testament to the staying power of it. Action scores these days lack so much of what made 90's action scores so brilliant. Broken Arrow is a perfect example of how music in an action film should work.

Hans' Morricone inspired score is one of a kind. Simple themes with defining synths and electronics. The themes not only play off the characters but off the action as well. Lots of elements here are Zimmer staples that if you listen carefully grew into elements in his more current scores. The score can be over the top but it's not over the top 100% of the time. The music has subtle moments that enhance the building to the action. The soundscape is similar to Black Rain in many respects but has the structure of Drop Zone in terms of action arrangements. What makes the score unique is the spaghetti western aspect of it all.

In an homage to Ennio Morricone Hans made the score with a slight spaghetti western flavor. Certain builds are reminiscent of classic Leone finales. Hans also incorporates a harmonica and even a banjo into the mix? Why? Well the film is a John Woo action piece and Woo himself homages lots of Leone's films. That is if Leone made explosive action flicks. For example, almost every John Woo film ends in a duel. Broken Arrow, Face/Off, Mission Impossible 2 are just a few off the top of my head that end in duels. Anyway, back to the music. The Morricone hints don't add a campy aspect surprisingly and work extremely well.

La-La Land's expanded release is a thing of beauty too. The 2-disc set has tons of never before released music all in a perfect presentation. The music has been remastered and even the suites from the original album have been included at the end. The set is a 3000 print issue so get yours before they're gone!

Broken Arrow is a reminder of how action scores used to be and it makes me wish they still were like this. These days action films are all CGI over practical effects. Back in the 90's they blew stuff up for real and the scores always matched the intensity and became instantly memorable. Scores like Speed, Crimson Tide, Con Air, Armageddon, The Rock, Broken Arrow, Bad Boys, Twister and many more are the best action scores ever composed and they all came from the 90's. It was the decade of my childhood and all this music stayed imprinted on me. If I were born 10 years later I don't think I would sitting in North Hollywood and typing this right now. So thank you Hans and all the 90's action composers.