I was dozing through some spritzed-up, century-old YouTube footage (4K, 60 fps) of New York City a while ago, and the musical score, which I didn’t immediately recognize, snuck up and took me away. It wasn’t as delicate or sublime as Rachmaninoff‘s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini“, but it was all sad strings and seemed to be coming from the same general ballpark. A movie score, I began to suspect, but which? Then it hit me.

It was Hans Zimmer‘s main theme (“Tennessee”) from Michael Bay‘s Pearl Harbor (’01). Which shocked me because most of us don’t associate whorish or bombastic or otherwise second-rate films with stirring musical scores. So please tell me which films that everyone agreed weren’t very good or worse…which of these flawed films had exceptionally moving scores? There must be at least a few.

From “Bay of Lost Hope,” posted on 6.26.09:

“There was a movie-theatre moment eight years ago when I thought Michael Bay might one day grow into a semi-mature film artist. Maybe. To my delight and surprise the opening of Pearl Harbor began with Hans Zimmer‘s music playing for nine or ten beautiful seconds over a black screen — a semi-overture, I thought at first. But the black gave way to a shot of World War I-era biplanes cruising over cornfields during magic hour — a middle-American nostalgia scene. And then the film was and up and running, and soon it was all downhill.

Nonetheless that black-screen opener was, I have to say, mildly impressive.

“I asked Bay about this at a press conference the next day. He talked about how he had to fight hard to begin the film this way, especially since it meant not starting this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film with the traditional highway-tree-lightning Bruckheimer logo.