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Soundtrack review: Pirates of the Caribbean – At world’s end (Hans Zimmer – 2009)

Composer of the month Franchises Hans Zimmer Hans Zimmer month

Soundtrack review: Pirates of the Caribbean – At world’s end (Hans Zimmer – 2009)


“At World’s end” is the third part of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

This time, Hans Zimmer took a different approach. He scratched everything and started from zero. He wrote almost five hours of music and chose the best minutes to feature on the final score.

You can truly hear the difference between “At world’s end” and the previous two installments. After champagne and rum, it’s time for a properly aged bottle this time. Nothing is spared for this score. The thematic material is rich and varied… the score is a true orchestral wonder, miles away from the exciting but mostly synthetic first score. I consider this third part a separate experience all together. It is one of my favorite Hans Zimmer scores and I never got bored listening to the recording sessions either.

First highlight that comes to mind is “I see dead people in boats”. The scene from the movie is poignant as well, but the slow and almost mournful variation of the “Hoist the colors” theme is absolutely brilliant; it moves me. The solo oboe just breaks my heart.
Then we get “Parlay”, the perfect homage from Hans to Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece “Once upon a time in the West”. Such a beautiful gap between the most talented composers of their generations…
“What shall we die for” is a Zimmer build up cue which explodes with powerful and goose bump inducing choirs and serves as a prelude to the most exciting section of this score.

The final 20 minutes of “At world’s end” are some of the most memorable from Hans’ career. We get a story here, three cues which are my favorites from the entire franchise and some of my favorite Hans Zimmer cues ever. I probably listen to them at least once a month, as a suite. I get such a rush from this section of the score… The orchestral is majestic, the action is exhilarating and the emotions are racing. And this is just the 10 minutes long “I don’t think now it’s the best time”. I have very strange feelings listening to this cue, because as amazing as it is, I am almost jumping from my chair with anticipation for what I know follows, the “One day” / “Drink up my hearties” epilogue. These two cues are as beautiful and turbulent as the sea on which Jack Sparrow drifts away at the end of the movie. This ending makes a promise to me, a promise that whatever I thought the limits of gorgeous film music were, they can be surpassed.

“At world’s end” is a unique score and one that will remain forever part of Hans Zimmer’s legacy. I love this score like I love drinking water. I couldn’t imagine my life without it.


Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 50 / 56

Album excellence: 89%


Hoist The Colours


At Wit’s End

Up is Down

I See Dead People in Boats



What Shall We Die For

I Don’t Think Now Is the Best Time

One Day

Drink Up Me Hearties

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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