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Soundtrack review: Pearl Harbor (Hans Zimmer – 2001)

Composer of the month Hans Zimmer Hans Zimmer month perfect scores

Soundtrack review: Pearl Harbor (Hans Zimmer – 2001)


The movie “Pearl Harbor” got a lot of bad reviews. Personally, I enjoyed it as an easy background watch. Hans Zimmer’s score – that’s a different story. From the main theme he wrote, which was sung by Faith Hill, until the very last note of “Heart of a volunteer”, this is one of the most beautiful scores he has ever written. It is melodic, moving, heroic and spectacular in the same time. I know every theme by heart, I recognize them, I’m familiar with them and to me, and this is among the ten best scores Hans Zimmer has ever written.

The piano rolls beautifully in many of the cues, the orchestra sounds old school and even the most avid Zimmer contesters can appreciate this one. What’s not to like about a score like this?, it’s beautiful and it just flows perfectly; every change of rhythm comes naturally and makes the score feel round and easy on the ears. Each of the 9 cues is an anthem on its own. “Pearl Harbor” is as fresh and exciting as it was when I first heard it. It is also one of the scores I can listen to the recording sessions of without getting bored and skipping tracks.

I love how melodic “Tennessee” is…I love the well placed haunting choral inserts in “I will come back”, I love the sweet urgency in “Then I kissed him” and the way “Attack” builds up is thrilling. I am invested in this last track; I get worried with it and suffer with it. It’s haunting when it needs to, emotional in other parts and unforgiving overall. Most of its notes echo long after the cue is over, like the smoke rising after an explosion. “Attack” is a 9 minute suite; a collection of motifs weaved together in a dramatic composition.

“December 7th” is the most elegiac piece from the score. The aftermath of the attack is terrible, and you can feel it when you listen to this cue. “War” is my favorite cue from the score. In its extended version it is called “30 seconds over Tokyo” and if you have a chance to listen to it, do not pass it. It is one on my playlist of favorite Hans Zimmer tracks, and Steve Jablonsky also gets credit for it. It is also on my running playlists, because it just makes me push as hard as I can.

When “Pearl Harbor” ends, my only regret is that it’s not longer. Luckily, the recording sessions have surfaced and I usually listen to those instead of the regular, 46 minutes long release. Hans Zimmer has written a lot of legendary scores and to me, this is one of the very best.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 46 / 46

Album excellence: 100%


There You’ll Be (Faith Hill)



And Then I Kissed Him

I Will Come Back


December 7th


Heart Of A Volunteer


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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