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Rain Man by Hans Zimmer (Review)

posted Nov 22, 2010, 12:42 AM by Kaya Savas

In 1988 Barry Levinson made a film. For that film he took a chance on a relatively unknown German composer whose only real solo work to that date was the film A World Apart. The only reason he took a chance on the composer was because Levinson's wife heard the score to A World Apart and showed it to him. He liked what he heard and then hired the German composer. Hans Zimmer would go on to compose one of the most memorable and character infused scores of all time. It would also garner him his first Oscar nomination.

Fast forward 22 years later and finally the score gets a release. The reasoning why it took so long? It's hard to say. Several tracks were included on the OST and there has been a bootleg floating around for years, but Perseverance Records somehow got the rights and was able to release this limited edition set. Hans wasn't involved with this release for reasons unknown so the quality isn't the best, but it's better than the bootleg floating around.

Anyway, on to the score and why it's so great. Simply put it perfectly embodies the character of Raymond. There has never been a score since Rain Man that has opened the audience into a character the way Hans was able to do with Raymond. Raymond is autistic so his mind obviously works in ways beyond our understanding. His perception of the world is so much different and in a way bizarre to us. So how to do you allow the audience into such a closed off character? Music. The score brings us into Raymond's mind. We hear the world as he sees it. Hans' electronic score broke new grounds. It was other worldly and exotic, and had sounds that seemed alien and synthesized. He incorporated synthetic woodwinds and percussion with sounds of a didgeridoo. However, the sounds didn't come across as alien (at least not to me). They made sense and by the end packed such an incredible emotional impact because we understood Raymond.

It's without a doubt that Hans Zimmer's score was the reason why Dustin Hoffman won the Oscar. The score enhances that performance unimaginably. Take the score away and we lose our insight into the character and thus lose connection with the emotional arc of the story. While the score is short it does what it needs to do and shows us that short scores aren't bad scores. Rain Man is a beautiful film and is in my opinion still Barry Levinson's best work. Zimmer's score showed us early that he wasn't scoring an image that he was scoring characters and story. And it became the launching point to what is now one of the most successful careers in the industry (composer or not). Even though I'm 1 year older than this score it still moves me. Not many composers or filmmakers for that matter can say they made a masterpiece at the beginning of their careers, but Hans Zimmer certainly can.