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Hans vs Clint

Hans Zimmer v Clint Mansell: who’s the soundtrack supremo?

Two major film composers perform live in London this week. Time for a face-off

By James Manning


Hans: Where do we begin? Mr Zimmer has written more than 150 soundtracks for films like ‘The Lion King’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Inception’ and ‘12 Years a Slave’. He’s up there with John Williams as one of the most prolific composers ever. When he cranks out his biggies this weekend, absolutely everyone will be humming along.
Score: 10/10

Clint: Mr Mansell scored his first film in 1998 and has notched up 15 more soundtracks since then. His big tune is ‘Lux Aeterna’, originally the leitmotif from ‘Requiem for a Dream’, which has been used in trailers for dozens of films including ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and Danny Boyle’s ‘Sunshine’. It’ll sound absolutely epic at the Barbican.
Score: 7/10

Secret history

Hans: After moving to London as a teenager, Zimmer hung about on the new wave scene, played keyboards for The Buggles and produced a song for The Damned. But perhaps his darkest secret is that he wrote the inspirational theme for daytime TV quiz show ‘Going for Gold’, which ‘opened up all sorts of doors’, according to Hans.
Score: 6/10

Clint: It’s been an incredible journey to the bright lights of Hollywood, and it all started on the Midlands grebo scene of the ’80s. That’s right: acclaimed film composer Clint Mansell started out as the shouty lead singer in Pop Will Eat Itself – basically Coventry’s answer to Public Enemy. Tragically, he doesn’t still rock a full head of crusty dreadlocks.
Score: 9/10

Signature moves

Hans: Zimmer has the distinction of being the undisputed king of Pirate Music – the man you hire if you want plenty of swash for your buckle. He famously wrote all the best tunes from the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film in one night (presumably over a bottle of rum) as well as the ‘Arrr!’-rated ‘Muppet Treasure Island’.
Score: 8/10

Clint: If you’re a director in the market for some slowly building orchestral menace, Clint is definitely your man. Look beyond the sharp stabbing strings and sinister elegance of ‘Lux Aeterna’ – his scores for ‘Moon’ and Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ and ‘The Fountain’ are also masterclasses in creeping dread.
Score: 7/10

Arthouse cred

Hans: He’s worked with directors including Ridley Scott, Terrence Malick and Werner Herzog – respectable enough. But Zimmer loses serious points for scoring flabby fare by Richard Curtis, Ron Howard, Guy Ritchie and (ouch) Michael Bay.
Score: 3/10

Clint: Our Clint’s a bit more selective about his collaborators. True, he’s had his mainstream slips (‘Sahara’, ‘Trust the Man’), but that’s more than made up for by his frequent work with Darren Aronofsky, plus ‘Moon’ with Duncan Jones.
Score: 8/10

Hans notches up 27 points, but Clint’s the winner with 31. The underdog triumphs! Roll credits.

Hans Zimmer Revealed is at Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, Friday October 10 and Saturday October 11. Clint Mansell plays Barbican Hall on Tuesday October 7.


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