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Soundtrack review: Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl (Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer – 2003)

Composer of the month Franchises Hans Zimmer Hans Zimmer month

Soundtrack review: Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl (Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer – 2003)


The music of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise is legendary by now. The Pirates theme is among the classics and one of the most easily recognizable and most used themes in commercials, shows, promos and so on. When I first heard it, while watching the first movie, “Curse of the Black Pearl”, I was on a Gladiator high and at the beginning of my journey through film music. I was sure it was Hans Zimmer I was hearing. I was shocked when the closing credits revealed Klaus Badelt as the composer.

Later I found out the whole story and it’s still Hans Zimmer for me. He wrote the most important themes, while Badelt, Steve Jablonski, Ramin Djawadi and others helped orchestrate and write additional music. I am counting this as a Zimmer score and therefore part of the Hans Zimmer month. This was another case of a score needing to be finished in a very short time, so short that the names of most of the cues were decided for the album packaging before the music was even composed.

This score is simple and exciting. There’s nothing complicated about the orchestration…Just awesome swashbuckling music and addictive themes. This score passes in a heartbeat and you’re left humming and making orchestra conductor signs in the air and also with a need to jump and / or fly. The score is that infectious. It also helps that it ends with the main theme, “He’s a pirate” that most of you know and probably love. This is a brilliant move by the producers of the score. So the score ends and you’re just hearing the opening credits and want to start it all over again.

Needless to say, the orchestral gem that is “He’s a pirate” is among my favorite Hans Zimmer themes. It’s been 11 years and I haven’t gotten tired of it. Talk about an addictive theme…the motif just hijacks almost every cue and gets stuck in your ears forever. I love most the way it’s developed in “The Black Pearl” and “Skull and Crossbones”.

At 43 minutes of length, “Curse of the Black Pearls” comes swinging off a chandelier, makes a mess, saves the day and heads out the window. But the theme and our heroes will return…

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 44

Album excellence: 90%


Fog Bound

The Medallion Calls

The Black Pearl

Will And Elizabeth

Swords Crossed

Walk The Plank

Barbossa Is Hungry

Blood Ritual

Moonlight Serenade

To The Pirates’ Cave!

Skull And Crossbones

Bootstrap’s Bootstraps

One Last Shot

He’s A Pirate

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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