Hans Zimmer: 'The Earth is in a terrible situation'
Composer Hans Zimmer was a child when he realised that planet Earth was 'in big trouble'.
Now 62, he's been producing music for the biggest film blockbusters for decades. But human impact on nature continues to be at the forefront of his mind.
Zimmer has won every award going for his work, which includes composing the score for more than 200 projects.
Legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has also turned to Zimmer to score his natural history collaborations with the BBC, including Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II. The latest project was Seven Worlds, One Planet, which took viewers around the world and revealed how each continent shapes the organisms that live there.
The seven-part documentary brought the beauty of nature to TV screens around the country, but also warned of the grave threats it is facing at the hands of humanity.
Zimmer composed the accompanying score alongside Australian singer Sia as well as his colleagues at Bleeding Fingers Music.
It's a different beast from his most-loved film scores (think The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight) but when he speaks about the series, Zimmer makes it clear that he considers science and nature projects to be the most important works of his career.
He says, 'I found out when I was five years old that this planet was in big trouble and we had to do something about it…I don't think we're doing enough.
'As we sit here, we are reminded that we're in a terrible situation and we should be panicking right now. We need to make this story even more relevant, break through some emotional walls and get people to go and do a little bit more.'
Earth is indeed in a dire situation. Humans have made their mark here. The oceans are becoming too warm, the wild places left on land are becoming too small, and the precious species which the BBC and Attenborough capture on film so well are disappearing. Most of the change is caused by us, and many people refer to the time we are living in as the Anthropocene, or the age of humans.
Working with Attenborough
Having grown up with scientist parents, Zimmer says he knew that advocating for nature was going to be an inevitable part of his career.
He adds, 'I grew up with the idea that you are supposed to communicate science to the world.
'I saw this planet break apart in the '50s and '60s and saw global catastrophe starting to form, so whatever I wanted to become I had to go back to what I was trained for, which was to speak up for the planet. To do anything else is completely and utterly stupid.'
Thankfully, an Attenborough documentary is the best piece of natural-world drama one could work with. Over 70 years, David Attenborough's BBC programmes have become the benchmark for wildlife storytelling.
Zimmer says, 'The best car chase in the world is an iguana and a bunch of snakes. Those stories are truly about life and death.'
'Anything that was shot in the natural world - ostensibly shot as a moment of truth - needs to have a little bit more effort put into it. You do want to illuminate this strange world that we cohabit with all these creatures.
'It is important to embrace the real life. The BBC Natural History Unit has managed to figure out ways to really get in amongst it, to be a witness to how nature unfolds in front of our eyes and how we are part of it. And we better learn from it if we want to survive, and if we are going to avoid being idiots and destroying the planet around us.'
So how does the composer galvanise viewers? He describes his job as 'opening emotional doors' for people and leaving them to decide where to go once the documentary finishes.
He says, 'You seduce everybody into recognising how beautiful this world is and how singular this world is, what an honour it is to be part of this. And on the other hand, you scare the living daylights out of them.'