A Moron In A Hurry

June 13, 2006

Hans Zimmer Sued for Ripping Off Gustav Holst

Filed under: copyright — nick @ 7:53 pm

Hans Zimmer, the Oscar-nominated composer of the Gladiator score, is being sued by the Holst Foundation for copyright infringement, claiming that Zimmer’s work is a copy of Gustav Holst’s “Planet Suite.

I have not heard either, so can make no judgment, but here is an interesting excerpt from a review of Zimmer’s score:

It has a pacing and sometimes a melody that is similar to Gustav Holst’s “Mars, Bringer of War”, but the imagery and power that it evokes more than makes up for the brief similarities that come through the music. It’s hard really even to describe, there are so many things going on at once in the music.

Another online review thinks that Zimmer’s “The Battle” is a rip off from “Pirates of the Carribean.”

The Amazon.com review of the Gladiator score:

Most modern Hollywood films have musical “temp tracks” laid in as they’re edited, usually classical standards or music from other soundtracks that helps shape the dramatic and emotional intentions of works in progress. Sometimes these temp tracks become the score (as in “2001”), but more often they serve as a template for the film’s eventual scorer. That said, we’ll boldly climb out on a limb and opine that director Ridley Scott was listening to a whole lot of Holst’s The Planets as he was cobbling together his modern gladiator epic.

What does Zimmer’s lawyer think of the claim?:

Just listening to the two works is enough to tell any listener this claim has no merit.




  1. The second review points out that elements from “The Battle” were reused wholesale in Pirates of the Caribbean, a project which Hans Zimmer was also attached to. It would of course be impossible for the Gladiator score to rip off Pirates of the Caribbean, which was released three years later than Gladiator.

    Comment by Mr. Buckley — February 9, 2007 @ 4:39 am

  2. I have always been a fan of Holst’s The Planets (oddly enough, the composer never considered the work one of his best). I have even studied the score note-for-note. When I initially saw the movie Gladiator, I was excited that a film was using such a great piece of classical music (with permission, of course). As we all know however, this was not the case. Without a doubt, Zimmer has plagarized several themes from this great work.

    Comment by M. Chandler — March 20, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

  3. Yes, the primary theme & rhythm pattern from Mars can be clearly heard in the Pirates music. Does that mean the score is plagiarized? Not necessarily. Mash-ups are nothing new in the music business. Composers have done this throughout the history of western music.

    Comment by Handel — May 29, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  4. True, but normally they are done with permission, which is not the case here.

    Comment by Mike — November 1, 2007 @ 8:48 am

  5. The facts still remain:
    1. Holst’s works fell out of copyright in 2004.
    2. Williams has ripped more music from Holst and other copyrighted composers (such as Stravinsky) decades earlier and no one said anything, and the resemblance in his works is much more striking than that in Zimmer’s works.

    Comment by James — December 31, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

    • wrong there

      Comment by Jesse Hopkins — April 18, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  6. it is 2013. I’ve seen both movies before, yrs apart, never gave it a thought until last night watching Gladiator again. I love the Pirates soundtrack, and heard it PLAIN as DAY in Gladiator–meaning vice-versa bc Glad. was out first. It IS the pirates theme, exactly so in some spots, they just sped it up and made it a little ‘peppier’ in pirates. There is NO question, Gladiator was ripped off.

    Comment by laurie — August 22, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

    • Hans Zimmer composed the Gladiator soundtrack, and produced the Pirates soundtrack, so though it is similar music, it was the same guy, and therefore not a rip-off.

      Comment by amanda — January 29, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

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