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Soundtrack review: The Fan (Hans Zimmer, 1996)

Film scores Hans Zimmer

Soundtrack review: The Fan (Hans Zimmer, 1996)


My relationship with the movie “The Fan” is special. This is one of my favorite movies, and definitely one of my ten favorite Robert De Niro roles. The way he portrayed that troubled and tragic character moved me, and I believed him. I understood him, I empathized with him, I suffered with him. From the moment the opening titles started, with “The fan poem” recited by de Niro, I knew I was on to something special. I am an avid sports fan myself and I knew where the character came from, up to a point, obviously. It was a movie I got a lot of quotes from and I think I know it by heart.
Except de Niro’s magnetic and heartbreaking performance, what made this movie stick to me was the hypnotic score. Back when I first saw the movie, I wasn’t into film music yet. It was 16 years ago and except Twin Peaks or Ennio Morricone I didn’t really have favorite scores or composers.  I was though a huge Nine Inch Nails fan, and there are a few of their songs on the soundtrack for The Fan. What intrigued me though was the music that complemented NIN, but was slightly different, more intense, and more alive. Those sounds went straight into my blood and I couldn’t shake them. I recognized a theme even in the closing credits, when Terence Trent d’Arby sang “Letting go”. I watched the movie again and realized that “The fan poem” also had a sound to it…
As I watched the movie again and again, I identified more pieces of music. It was disturbing, tragic, tender, twisted and broken. Every now and then, the mood of the music changed and there was a sense of relief from all that pain and misunderstanding. Hope sprung but just for moments, before the music plunged back in the deep underground.  Yet there was beauty in that darkness, there was a sense of direction in those twisted rhythms and there was good inside that broken soul.
When I started collecting movie scores, this was one of my holy grails. I found out that there was only one track available, the “Sacrifice” suite and it was composed by Hans Zimmer, who was already my favorite composer.  It made sense now.  But it wasn’t enough. So this was one of the bootlegs I searched for the hardest, and when me and the friend who was sharing the same passion finally traced a low quality copy, we couldn’t listen to anything else. There were 12 tracks, including the poem and the end titles. I remember how I spent an entire corporate Christmas party listening to that score for hours on an iPod.  Still, as much as I wanted to love that score, for the feelings it gave me during the movie, and for how attached I was to it, it just didn’t sound right. I couldn’t connect with the score the way I wanted and hoped to. I desperately wanted to love this score and consider it among my favorite Zimmer works, and I couldn’t…The music wasn’t connecting me to the feelings I was looking for.
And then, a few months ago, the recording sessions finally surfaced. 76 minutes, good quality, clear sound. Of course I gave my holy grail a thorough listen, and I finally reconnected with the feelings I got all those years ago. I wasn’t wrong. I hadn’t been wrong in searching for this score, and I am finally able to enjoy that music that has haunted me. It truly is a special score, and another reason why Hans Zimmer is my favorite composer.
My ratings:
Cue rating: 82 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 66 / 77
Album excellence: 86%
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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