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Soundtrack review: Rush (Hans Zimmer, 2013)

Film scores Hans Zimmer

Soundtrack review: Rush (Hans Zimmer, 2013)


Rush, the story of the 1976 Formula 1 season and the beautiful and fiery rivalry between James Hunt and Nikki Lauda, was my favorite movie of 2013. Ron Howard crafted a beautiful and emotional vision of that time. The movie was stunning both visually and from the story point of view, not to mention the magnificent performances of the two main actors.
Music was a very important part of that vision. The movie wouldn’t have worked so well if Hans Zimmer hadn’t applied his magic and enhanced most of the scenes. The sound differentiates the periods of the movie very clearly: the 1976 cues are deep, intense, and even somber at times; they fall like a heavy drape of rain you can barely see through.  I can feel the shivers, because the rain is cold, and I can see the steam rising. There’s nowhere to hide from it, I can feel the full force of those cues…
…on the other hand, the score starts easy, light and carefree, with a few joyous guitar tracks that suggest the exuberance of the beginnings of those two guys. Those tracks are fun but, like those stumbled beginnings as a racer, once everything gets real and intense you look behind at those times and laugh. You breeze through those memories and they don’t really leave a deep mark. I feel the same way about the first half of this score, with the exception of “Watkins glen”, the first cue where I get a real rush.
Then 1976 comes, and from “Nurburgring” on, everything changes…I imagine this cue was the most difficult to write, as it’s for the heartbreaking scene of Lauda’s famous accident. It starts tense and quietly, like the echo of an engine revving. It comes from somewhere far away, like the wind before the storm. You can heart its distant howl, you can feel the breeze, but it takes a while for it to hit you. And when it does…you’re caught not in the cockpit, but in the very engine of that F1 car running at 300 kmh. You can’t control what’s going on, notes pound like relentless pistons and you get no break. Not until the car crashes. And then everything gets even more urgent and hectic then before. All this in one amazing 5’30” long cue that ends with another echo…
“Inferno” comes next and it is a brilliant track, distorted in a way and heard as if from a distance, muffled, like I imagine everything sounds when you’re in a hospital bed after almost being burned alive. It’s slow and hard.
Another track I want to single out is “Reign”. It brings back the pounding pistons theme and runs with it. It makes me jump out of the chair and go find a street to run on.
My favorite cue from this score is, without a doubt, “Lost but won”. It’s among my favorite Zimmer tracks ever, and that says a lot. It’s deep, it’s rich, and it drills inside you and finds the part of you that cares. It’s a celebration, a conclusion of the story, an overflow of emotions. I like to place it at the end of my marathon playlists, right before my projected race time runs out. This way, if I don’t get to listen to it, it means I won, I went over my target, I had an amazing race. If I finish my race on it, it’s fine. I lost, but I won, because I finished the marathon in the time I wanted to. And I will always associate the unforgettable joy of finishing my first marathon with this track. It was there with me, along with the people cheering around the road and my wife and dad waiting for me at the finish line…
My ratings:
Cue score: 90.3 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 40/46
Album excellence: 86%
I’m going to introduce a new category to the ratings section: cues suitable for running or working out. From Rush, they are  “Watkins Glen”, “Nurburgring”, “Reign” and “Lost but won”
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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