I wonder if Hans Zimmer
is attempting to revive the early days of in house music departments, whereby the head of department (Hans, of course) gets all the plum assignments, but even then, has plenty of underlings to help him out. The very first Oscars for best score were not awarded to the composer, but to the head of department and in a similar way, Tears of the Sun
is credited to Zimmer, when in fact most of the work is done by others. Not to suggest there is anything wrong with group efforts, indeed Zimmer's collaborations with Lisa Gerrard
and Heitor Pereira
have had good results, but to call Tears of the Sun
a Hans Zimmer
score is somewhat overstating the case. Along with both Gerrard and Pereira, Lebo M, Steve Jablonsky
, Andreas Vollenweider, Martin Tillman
n and Jim Dooley
all contribute, many doing entire tracks without Zimmer's input at all. For all that, Tears of the Sun
has some effective moments, even if it does rather lack direction.
Think a less chaotic version of Black Hawk Down
crossed with Cry Freedom
and a dash of Thin Red Line and you have Tears of the Sun
. While there are many good moments, quite a lot has a distinctly improvised feel, but the results don't feel like an out pouring of invention, more like musical doodling. The most striking moments are undoubtedly the fusion action cues; Yekeleni Part II, has an impressively brutal assault of percussion, as do the exciting Jablonsky Variations (although not really variations in the strict sense, perhaps doodling on a theme of...) which move from a hymnal Lisa Gerrard
opening to an inspired and thrilling mixture of percussion and Lebo M vocals. Lebo M is perhaps the most important of the collaborators, his quasi-authentic African chants are never less than thrilling, even if they have started to sound a little alike. The quiet moments range from the quite lovely, notably Small Piece for Doumbek and Strings (not sure about the quasi-comical track names) to the rather banal, cues such as Kopano Part II and Night sticking resolutely to atmosphere and not much else.
The finest moments are undoubtedly in the three tracks over eight minutes, the final two make the intervening slack periods seem worth the wait. Jablonsky Variations is undoubtedly one of the most exciting action cues I've heard in absolutely ages; the layers of quick and vibrant percussion, vocals and an effectively counterpointed slow theme in the orchestra, are probably not quite as complex as they seem - it is just orchestral adagios with drumming - but the effectiveness cannot be denied. Had the rest of the score matched this level of quality, it would likely be a contender for score of the year, maybe Zimmer should have done some of the slow movements himself. I'm sure they are wonderful for atmosphere in the film, but do become wearisome on disc. Although not really more than the sum of its parts, Tears of the Sun
has some of the most memorable and exhilarating moments even penned for a contemporary action flick and for that, it can be recommended.
Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad