Pearl Harbor (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer



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Pearl Harbor (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Thin Red Thread
Review by Christopher Coleman


Pearl Harbor (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

Category  |   Score

Originality 7
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 7
Performance 8
Final Score 8/10


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Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer


Quick Quotes

"The greatly unfortunate aspect of Pearl Harbor is that it has absolutely nothing patriotic, warlike, or time-sensitive about it. This music could accompany a Free Willy film without much alteration. " ***

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks 
Reviews Pearl Harbor

"It's not that Zimmer's score for PEARL HARBOR isn't good - it's just that it's run 65 kilometers in a 100K race -- nearly all the way there but not a champ." ***

Ryan Keaveney - Cinemusic 
Reviews Pearl Harbor


Composed by Hans Zimmer
Conducted by Gavin Greenway
Score Produced by Bob Badami; Exec. Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Additional Arrangements: Fiachra Trench, Klaus Badelt, Steve Jablonsky, 
James S. Levine, Geoff Zanelli
Performed by: Julia Wigenes (Soprano Solos); Heitor Pereira (Guitar); Craig Eastman 
(Fiddle, Violin, Slide Guitar); Martin Tillman (Cello); Bruce Fowler (Solo Trombone); 
Emil Radacenio, Michael Fisher, John Morio (Percussion); Dan Kuramoto (Shakuhachi)
Released by Warner Bros. Records - May 2001

It seems as if the wait for this movie has been years as the first trailer for Pearl Harbor teased audiences back in early 2000.  The trailer, if such things can be said about mere trailers, was a hit.  With the backdrop of his sublime music for Thin Red Line, the trailer made quite the lasting impression.  With the images and sounds of the Pearl Harbor trailer wedged in many minds, it was clear that the Zimmer had lined up yet another Hollywood-hit.  Taking on the task of producing such a film and accompanying score was a huge and treacherous undertaking.  The film would sneak up on no one, as all eyes have been trained on it for over a year.  

Unfortunately, the score, but even moreso the film, may have been self-sabotaged.  First, the early effectiveness of the original Pearl Harbor trailer set very high expectations for the visuals and the music.  Second, taking pages from past successful films has clouded Pearl Harbor's own identity.  These two factors may hinder one from easily appreciating either.

The choice of using Journey to the Line from the Thin Red Line has come back to bite Zimmer and company.  This choice was one the best matches made for a trailer in some time and that selection of music has become cemented to the trailer's images.  The images were so large and the accompanying music so deep that the two together were unforgettably effective.  This resulted in a scenario that made it  nearly impossible for Zimmer to go a vastly different musical route for the actual film's score.  In the end, Zimmer's main theme, used extensively throughout the 3-hour long film, reflects the strong influence of Journey to the Line, but doesn't reach its sublime depths.

Big-budget, big-marketing, films such as Pearl Harbor are so often doomed before they are even released.  Taken at face value, Pearl Harbor is an enjoyable movie and score.  The problems begin the moment comparisons are made...and human nature can't help but do just that.  There have already been a number of high-quality Pearl Harbor-films produced over the decades.  This most recent telling of the military tragedy has not escaped the wrath of comparison to these earlier films.  Not only that, but Pearl Harbor seems to pull from earlier box-office and critically acclaimed hits such as:  Titanic and Saving Private Ryan.  Unfortunatley, From Here to Eternity and Titanic did the romantic/tragedy aspect better, Tora Tora Tora did the military story better, and Saving Private Ryan captured the essence of war better.  Further, There You'll Be (1) is a decent song performed by Faith Hill, but it doesn't match the feeling of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. Combining so many elements and angles into one film makes it hard to appreciate the whole package on its own.  If that can actually be done, then Pearl Harbor is an enjoyable film and score.

Hans Zimmer's score will likely be touted highly by many and take its beating from many others. There is good reason for both.  Hans Zimmer is able to let the piano come the forefront , which is a pleasant rarity for him.  It helps to communicate the overriding emotional, and romantic angle of the film.  It takes some repeated listens and at least one viewing of the film for the main themes to take on a personality of their own.  The title theme is established in track 2, Tennessee, and is also heard, tenderly performed in Brothers (3).  Zimmer continues with this softer side with the secondary love theme first heard in ...And Then I Kissed Him (4).  This track features the solitarily evocative performance of first, the piano, then mandolin, and then strings - building into one of the scores best moments as the theme receives a full performance by the orchestra.

The action sequences are typically rousing as most Media Ventures action scores go.  Track 7, Attack, bears a strong resemblance to portions of Gladiator, specifically regarding percussions and the technique employed to build suspense and communicate the determined desperation of the Japanese.  While War (8) may be the most triumphant and inspiring of the lot, the essence of the film can be summed up in December 7th (7).  Here the depth of Zimmer's synthesizers is placed in the spotlight to provide some of the most poignant music of the CD.  Its a truly emotional piece and concludes with the stunning yet solemn choral performance.

A bit more Japanese influence in the score would have gone a long way in balancing the score's texture . There is actually very little Japanese-influenced-music presented on the CD aside from Attack (6), and not much more in the lengthy film.   In addition to the shakuhachi performance of Dan Kuramoto, soliciting the talents of Jeff Rona and his inspired woodwind performances would have brought a nice balance to the score as well had added a bit more depth and complexity to it.  

In the end, Pearl Harbor is a solid effort, but not as awe inspiring as the original trailer caused so many to anticipate.  The film, knowingly or unknowingly, references a handful of well known and loved films of yesteryear and the ensuing comparisons diffuse almost any opportunity for this film or score to be appreciated fully.  Be this as it may, with successive listens, this score takes on its own personality and becomes vastly more enjoyable.  Depending upon the quality of field for the rest of 2001, Zimmer may find himself with another Oscar nomination.

Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 "There You'll Be" Faith Hill 3:42  ***
2 Tennessee 3:39  ****
3 Brothers 4:04  ****
4 ,,,And Then I Kissed Him 5:36  ****
5 I Will Come Back 2:54  ***
6 Attack 8:56  ***
7 December 7th 5:07  ****
8 War 5:15  ****
9 Heart of a Volunteer 7:05  ****

Total Running Time


Pearl Harbor (Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.


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