Hans Zimmer’s score to The Lone Ranger is a breathtaking blend of swashbuckling adventure and Morricone-style western, and his excellent use of the William Tell Overture is just the icing on top of the already amazing cake.
After a short and somewhat cold opening in Never Take Off The Mask, things really start to get going with Absurdity, a track that essentially acts as the “main theme” for Zimmer’s The Lone Ranger. However, I used quotation marks there for a reason, as one could make an argument that the William Tell Overture is the Lone Ranger’s main theme, as it is used rather considerably towards the end of the score. Absurdity opens with light woodwinds and counteringly-heavy backing percussion, and after a few seconds of introduction we get the first rendition of Tonto’s theme; a light-hearted and somewhat mischievous series of notes. The percussion then begins to build up and strings appear in the background, and the tone then rather drastically shifts from light and playful to frantic and dramatic as Zimmer’s main theme (that’s what I’ll call it from now on) gets its debut. Overall, it’s a rather simple yet incredibly dramatic three-note motif that is repeated in rapid succession throughout the album, and as a theme for the character of the Lone Ranger I believe it works very well – incorporating just the right amount of heroism and drama as well as pretty expertly capturing the overall tone of the film.
Ride is where Zimmer properly dons his cowboy hat, as he goes pretty much full Western for a highly enjoyable four minutes. One of my biggest criticisms of this score overall is that the Western elements are somewhat subdued by epic orchestra and many a hint towards the musical styles of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which the composer also worked on. This however is most certainly not the case with Ride, as Zimmer goes all out with the Morricone-style brass and strings and even brings his main theme into the fold for a good half of the track, as well as introducing an entirely new one; the Home theme. This is a much softer and more melancholic motif in comparison to the rest of the score, as it is used to link the antics of the Lone Ranger and Tonto in 1869 to the film’s flashes to the future of 1933 where a much older Tonto is telling stories to a young boy (an aspect of the film that I found a bit jarring, I must say).
The main action sequence of the score then begins with The Railroad Waits For No One, and right off the bat dramatic strings kick in with a fast-paced and frantic rendition of Zimmer’s main theme. Percussion and heavy brass then join the fray and kick things up a few notches with several even louder and bolder thematic playthroughs before the track then comes to an end. For God And For Country then picks up where it left off, starting with somewhat blaring brass and percussion and then gradually building up to and then exploding with a very intense-sounding vocals and strings combination. The track then finishes up on a rather sombre note, slowing right down with lighter and sadder strings and pensive vocals.
The standout cue of the score is of course Finale; a.k.a. the bit where Zimmer finally uses the William Tell Overture. Not only is this the best action track by far of Zimmer’s The Lone Ranger, but it might actually be the best piece of action music he has ever composed. Immediately as the music begins you know things have been kicked up by about a million, as the loud, proud and brass-heavy opening notes of the William Tell Overture (or the real Lone Ranger theme) announce themselves. We are then treated to ten minutes of breathtaking action, as Zimmer expertly intertwines the famous Overture and his own themes. You can tell right away that everything in the score has been leading up to this musical moment, as all of the established motifs and orchestral styles fit together with the Overture like missing pieces of a perfect puzzle.
The album then finishes up with Home; a somewhat sombre piece in comparison to the rest of the score. It’s essentially a six minute long rendition of the Home theme that was previously introduced in Ride, and a welcome strings-based breather from the non-stop action that much of The Lone Ranger has been (not that I’m complaining though), especially after the breakneck ten-minute action setpiece that was Finale.
Overall, Hans Zimmer’s score to The Lone Ranger is near masterful. His themes for the characters are highly enjoyable in their respective tracks, and the fact that they then fit together seamlessly with the William Tell Overture for the standout action piece is both musically astounding and utterly fantastic. My only criticism would be that the album is sadly only forty minutes long, and having seen the film I can definitely say that there was a lot of great score that isn’t on here, and that’s a massive shame (especially considering that a lot of what’s missing is Morricone-style western). The end credits suite is also sadly absent, which is unfortunate as it contains the film’s only other lengthy Overture appearance. Still, what we do get on the score is absolutely amazing, and for me The Lone Ranger is definitely up there as one of Zimmer’s best scores.
Standout Cue: 10. Finale