Home Entertainment Top List Thursdays – 16 Greatest Movie Themes

Top List Thursdays – 16 Greatest Movie Themes

3 min read

When a film releases, there are always quite a few factors that can make it stand out. Cinematography, great acting and impressive special effects are just a few such factors, that can combine to make something mundane, memorable, but without a decent film score it all just falls apart.

It’s that one signature film tune, that stirring melody, that really helps channel 90 minutes of action, drama and suspense, hammering it deep into your memory.

So join us, as we take a look at the top film themes that made all those explosions worthwhile and super-dramatic.

Robocop (By Basil Poledouris)

Unlike other Human Right groups, I’m all for our law enforcement officers being transformed into merciless killing machines, provided that they come with a kickass orchestral theme, whenever they bust a perp.

Lawrence of Arabia (By Mauricce Jarr)

Next time I go camping, I’m totally going to play this track, 24/7, while wearing white, easily blood-stained, robes.

The Pink Panther (By Henry Mancini)

How many of you actually know what the Pink Panther is, without Googling? Maybe you can’t remember what Peter Sellers was trying to recover in those classic films, before Steve Martin dragged the franchise into an alleyway and put a bullet in its head, but at least this theme tune is instantly recognisable.

Superman  (By John Williams)

You will believe that a Kryptonian orphan who receives incredible powers from solar radiation can fly, as John Williams proved in the score for one of the greatest Superman films of all time.

Chariots of fire (By Vangelis)

I may get tired and winded just by walking to my front door, but hot damn, this tune has always helped me catch my second breath, in order to allow me to reach the post box.

Rocky (By Bill Conti)

Which is where the Rocky theme kicks in, when I need to get to a Black Friday sale before the rest of the crowds.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (By Ennio Morricone)

AYAYAYAY! WAA WAH WAAAAAH! AYAYAYAYAY! And that, is why CLint Eastwood never smiles.

Jaws ( By John Williams)

I’ve been arrested more times than I care to remember, for assaulting orchestral groups practicing on the beach front, for fear that that they would attract some great white sharks with smiling issues.

Star Wars  (By John Williams)

Did Chewbacca ever get his medal, at the end of the first Star Wars film? Shame on you Leiah, shame on you!

Inception (By Hans Zimmer)

Is there anything that Hans Zimmer can’t make cool? The man scored Kung Fu Panda, for Petes sake!

Tron Legacy (Daft Punk)

Daft Punk being snubbed at the Academy Awards, for this fantastic theme and overall soundtrack, is yet another reason why the judging committee needs people who can eat food with their own, natural teeth.

Indiana Jones  (By John Williams)

You may hate snakes, but it’s hard to not love this iconic theme.

Back To The Future (By Alan Silvestri)

Hearing this theme for the first time, it hit my heart with 88MPH of pure love.

Batman (By Danny Elfman)

It’s 1989, I’m standing outside the movie house waiting patiently, and then I hear the theme play on the mall speakers. Where does he get those wonderful orchestras from?

Jurassic Park (By John Williams)

Whenever I go to the bathroom, this is the melody that I play, to chronicle my journey, true story.

James Bond (By Monty Norman)

007 may be pushing 50 now, and yet, this very arrangement of catchy riffs and trumpets is as relevant today, as it was when he first appeared.

Last Updated: May 24, 2012


  1. Gareth Lagesse

    May 24, 2012 at 14:02

    No Brad Fiedel’s “The Terminator”? Only the most recognisable theme ever. 😉

    No Hans Zimmer’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme either. 🙁


    • CaptainNemo42

      May 24, 2012 at 14:09

      I agree 100%


    • Kervyn Cloete

      May 24, 2012 at 14:10

      This is the first of a new weekly feature we’ll be doing where we list our personal greatest whatevers from film.
      Your comment will also more than likely be the first of a new weekly comment on that feature about how we should have included one thing or another. 😀 There are just too many to include so it will be impossible to keep everybody happy.

      Although I will have some stern words with Darryn later about that Terminator slip-up. And by “have some stern words” I actually mean slap him like I’m his pimp and he owes me money.


      • Darryn_Bonthuys

        May 24, 2012 at 14:31

        Bah, your pimp hand ain’t so strong.


    • Darryn_Bonthuys

      May 24, 2012 at 14:33

      I’ll be honest, the Pirates theme just doesn’t feel as iconic as the others. Sure, it sounds great, but it’s not going to stand the test of time.

      Terminator however, I’ll admit, should be on the list, which I will rectify shortly.


  2. Lourens Corleone

    May 24, 2012 at 14:12

    Haha, do use the “executive toilet”? Me too!


  3. CaptainNemo42

    May 24, 2012 at 14:14

    Another couple worth mentioning.

    Harry Potter Films theme.
    Transformers (The 1st one)
    Fist Full of Dollars.


  4. Kervyn Cloete

    May 24, 2012 at 14:30

    For the record – because I know you guys just can’t go on in life until you know this – the Indiana Jones theme song is my all time personal favourite.


  5. Noelle Adams

    May 24, 2012 at 15:05

    Some good picks there, but I would also add:

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
    The Fellowship of the Ring
    Conan the Barbarian

    Personally I also really dig the scores for 300, The Last Samurai and Up.

    Braveheart, The Last of the Mohicans and Glory all offer really stirring stuff. 
    Mohicans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pCv7k_Hzvg&feature=related
    And *ahem* Titanic is instantly recognisable as well as much as it’s become cheesy as all hell.


  6. Noelle Adams

    May 24, 2012 at 15:14

    Also, real pedigreed classics, Gone with the Wind, the Godfather and Schindler’s List


  7. Wtf101

    May 24, 2012 at 16:25

    And wot about Top Gun? The Top Gun theme was pretty good to…

    And tops to you sir/madam for the pirates of the carribean mention…

    Plus, I liked the theme from Judge Dredd as well.  Alan Silvestri I think.  Will check the copy of the CD I borrowed from the Library in ’98 to see…


  8. Justin Hess

    May 25, 2012 at 09:29

    When it comes to top movie scores, John Williams wins. Every Goddamn time. And unless I’m blind, I don’t see E.T. there. How could you leave E.T. out?

    That bit where they’re racing from the Feds and then they find themselves riding toward a bockade and the music dips and then they get closer and the music starts to swell and swell and swell and then suddenly the their bikes lift from the ground and the music crests and they fly off.


    Jeez. I’m getting a shiver just thinking about it


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