FIRST THOUGHTS – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” Score by Geoff Zanelli

May 16, 2017

Just saw the new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’. Geoff Zanelli’s score was really spectacular and fit with the world of PotC so well. I was elated. There were a lot of old themes that come back and the new themes felt at home here. It did seem obvious at times how the temp was used though. I am looking forward to hearing this score on the soundtrack. Read my first impression thoughts below.

The PotC series is close to my heart, particular the original trilogy. The music is extremely enjoyable. It is among the most iconic film scores of this century. There are a couple dozen themes in the series at this point, most of which are fairly recognizable. With Hans Zimmer scoring Dunkirk and busy with his concert tour, this film is scored by his collaborator on the series, Geoff Zanelli. I am pleased that this score can proudly stand beside the rest of the series. It has the fun, the darkness, the adventure, the action, and the emotion that keeps these movies going and felt very refreshing in this time where themes are frequently discarded as a franchise goes on.

The signature love theme from AWE is turned into a heroic theme for Henry. It gets a lot of work here and was a perfect way to show how this character relates to Will and Elizabeth.
The style of “Multiple Jacks” is heard briefly.
“Hoist the Colors” gets a rousing rendition for about a minute.
The militaristic, rhythmic British theme that was used in all over DMC and AWE is heard some here. It is in the background, but still hearkens back to when the British were the main antagonists of the series.
There is a very brief, but noteworthy moment when the memorable theme from “To The Pirates Cave” is able to be heard while we are with Barbossa’s crew.
The main tune of “At Wit’s End” returns during the climax, possibly adding to the mystic wonder of that sequence.
The uplifting and emotional tune of “One Last Shot” comes back during the finale reminding us of how a PotC movie should end.

Of course we get a lot of the classic themes that we have come to love from this 14 year old franchise. The 2 main themes are played enjoyably. They don’t seem to have evolved and sound like they have all throughout the series. The 14 note battle theme that Zimmer used in the scores for Pirates 2 – 4 is sadly gone. “Up is Down” would have been nice to hear also. This score most hearkens back to the 1st and 3rd movies’ scores, which is great since those are definitely the best.

There were a handful of new themes that film music fans will enjoy.
The villain, Salazar, has a theme. It sounds a lot like a dark, shortened version of the main John Carter theme. It is uncanny how much they sound similar.
His crew / ship also has a theme that sounds a bit like a simplified Blackbeard theme from OST.
There is a new adventure theme which matches the style and energy that Jack’s theme has. It is almost tough to know when that theme is playing or if one of the classic themes is being heard.
Finally there is a theme for the stars. That is my best guess as it is not heard very often. This etherial tune is also hard to discern and is often heard subtly in the background.

All in all, this score went above and beyond what I expected. It captured what we loved about the music of the other movies, while bringing out some new themes that give this film its own musical voice. Fans of film music and Pirates of the Caribbean are going to enjoy picking up this CD and adding it to their collection.


  • Eric May 17, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Question does Barbossa have his own theme in the movie at all ?

    • lfarris May 19, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Not that I noticed. It could be subtle though.

  • Maire Schleis May 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!|

    • lfarris June 1, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Glad you liked it. I hope you enjoy the soundtrack as well. It was quite a joy to hear it in the theater and then again on album.

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