Film scores

Soundtrack review: Inferno (Hans Zimmer – 2016)

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It’s been almost two years since the last great solo Hans Zimmer score and this one has been a long time coming from my favourite composer. The third score in the “Da Vinci Code” trilogy is upon us and I’ve been waiting a long long time for this one. “The Da Vinci code” brought one of my favourite Hans Zimmer cues ever  in “Chevaliers de Sangreal” while the sequel “Angels & Demons” had that electrifying and addictive pulse. I heard suites from both of them live this year in May and I couldn’t wait for “Inferno”. The movie finds Robert Langdon waking up in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of what has transpired over the last few days. He suddenly finds himself, once again, the target of a major manhunt. With the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks and his knowledge of symbology, Langdon will try to regain his freedom and lost memories, all while solving the most intricate riddle he’s ever faced.

The score opens with a tortured electronic version of the main motif from the trilogy before turning into a gripping “tick tock” affair that sucks me into a dark electronic land where i am already running for my life. Did Hans go all electronic for this third score? Because an electronic Zimmer score is almost too much to ask for. And yet here I am in this land where motifs from the previous two scores play hide and seek with me among dark metal corners. Adrenaline rushes to my brain while also placing a knot in my throat as the pace of the music gets insanely high. Is this my heartbeat I am hearing or another piece of Hans Zimmer musical sorcery. Yeah this is the “Batman vs Superman” sound on steroids and I’m loving it.

I can tell there will be a lot of chasing and running in this film. The composer throws everything behind the characters and every once in a while this suffocating electronic madness uncovers warm echoes of motifs we’ve grown to love from the previous two scores. “Seek and find” gets insane and I know this one will make all the orchestral film music purists frown and claim that “this is not music, this is blasphemy”. No, it’s not. This is effective and addictive film music that riles me up inside. All I can do is turn the volume way up and let the music take me over.

“Professor” takes the “Angels and demons” theme and wraps it in cold metal as if putting it through an electronic filter. I feel like I’m watching the X-ray screen at the airport and someone put the theme through the device. Hello, ambient goodness. Ah yes there’s my heartbeat again pulsating fast among the disturbed edges of this cue. Did I mention that the music is insane and that I love it? Do I need a break? “Venice” seems like a nice place to take it in with it’s suave ambient vibes, still dark, still seductive, but much quieter.

As the score progresses I can’t help but rejoice the fact that this is such a Hans Zimmer score, a classic electronic composition that only he can make so addictive and grandiose. Drop me anywhere in this album and I will find my way because Hans Zimmer’s music has become like a home to me. I recognise the emotional moments and I recognise the epic ones. I can only imagine how exhilarating it would be to hear this score performed live.

My favourite cue from “Inferno” is “The Cistern”. This piece of music is the culmination of what this score brings, the moment that puts everything together and turns it into an epic volcano eruption that will char everything around it. This cue is about as epic as Hans has ever gotten, it’s this score’s “Journey to the line”. It is cleverly followed by the warm core of the score, a haunting violin version of a theme we’ve grown to love from the previous two movies in “Beauty awakens the soul to act” and a gorgeous reflective piano theme in “Elizabeth”.

Once again a Hans Zimmer compositions will be polarizing. You will not hear traditional instruments in this one and you will not find joyful and hummable melodies. What you will get a stunning new variation of the “Chevaliers the Sangreal” theme  at its best in “Life must have its mysteries”. What you will get though is a masterful and visceral musical experiment, one that will leave you catching your breath and demanding to go on this insane rollercoaster ride once more. I cannot wait to see the movie and enjoy the music woven on the fabric of Ron Howard’s creation. Until then I will keep the score on repeat until I absorb it all.

Cue rating: 98 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 64 / 70
Album excellence: 92%
Highlights:
Maybe Pain Can Save Us
Cerca Trova
I’m Feeling A Tad Vulnerable
Seek And Find
Professor
Venice
Via Dolorosa #12 Apartment 3C
Remove Langdon
Doing Nothing Terrifies Me
The Cistern*
Beauty Awakens The Soul To Act
Elizabeth*
The logic of tyrants
Life must have its mysteries*
Life Must Have its Mysteries
Our Own Hell On Earth

About the author

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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