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Soundtrack review: The Pledge (Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt – 2003)

Composer of the month Hans Zimmer Hans Zimmer month

Soundtrack review: The Pledge (Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt – 2003)


The movie “The Pledge” has stuck with me. This strange and sad drama had something that made it stick out of the bunch. I still remember Jack Nicholson at the end of the movie, waiting on the side of the road for his words to come true and his pledge to be fulfilled while mumbling incoherenlty… Sean Penn’s direction was amazing and the movie had his grim, smart and hopeless touch.

Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt worked together for the score. Yes, these were the two names that brought us the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” score.

“The Pledge” couldn’t be farther from that composition. They don’t even live on the same planet. This was a subtle, slow burning movie and the score reflects that. The music is low key, string based, broken and with sharp movements. It has the mood of “Fargo”, only less invasive. You need a certain kind of mood to appreciate and even tolerate this score. “The pledge” has moments when it’s mumbling to you and you have to pay attention.

Tender moments like “Reading stories” are rare and therefore you can appreciate them more. They are small rays of light in the grim mood this score sets. There’s even a shadow of a woman’s voice singing, still melancholic. That haunting echo returns in a few more cues and adds to the ghostly sound of the score. Short piano strokes come and go, as fast as the poles on the side of the road go by while you are driving at full speed.
“The swing” is the happiest cue on “The pledge”, a carefree and playful hum. The climax of the movie brings the only clearly identifiable theme in this score: “You’re crazy”.

The score that Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt wrote mirrors the director’s vision perfectly. It’s mostly atmospheric and the atmosphere is pretty hopeless.
An interesting score nevertheless and one of the more unusual from both composers.

Cue rating: 61 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 3/ 40

Album excellence: 8%


Jerry & Lori

The swing



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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