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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Hans Zimmer (with James Newton Howard) -- The Dark Knight (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

 photo Darkknight_cd_zpsb16e6b64.jpg

The Dark Knight is one of the biggest movies of all time, the rare cinematic feat that garnered critical accolades and mass audiences. Hans Zimmer's score contributes greatly  to the huge, important feeling The Dark Knight exudes.
Zimmer has been unfairly maligned for the basic facts that his scores have been popular, and his works share a similar musical feeling. I don't think it's right to hate someone's work based on the fact that it his been consistent. Zimmer's scores are always huge, percussive, and propulsive, and his work on The Dark Knight is no different. Texture is given far heavier weight than complexity, and for this particular film about shades of white, gray, and black, nothing could have been more fitting.
For instance, Heath Ledger's unsettling performance as the Joker is given an even bigger push by the terrifying, distorted notes that follow his presence like a macabre shadow. Zimmer's electrical distortions to his orchestral compositions, and his innovative methods (for instance, having the violins played with razor blades) pay off in spades. He wisely hands off the film's more delicate moments (Harvey Dent's heroically hopeful themes) to fellow soundtrack veteran James Newton Howard, and the two compliment each other brilliantly. Few scores have matched and augmented the film they underlie as well as The Dark Knight's.
Of course, this is only the soundtrack without the film on top of it, and the naked experience of this listen is a bit different from the film. The music is still just as stirring and evocative with one caveat:
The music is jumbled from the order it appears in the film, track to track, and even within particular pieces. I've never understood why composers and soundtrack producers do this, and they do it often. Both great albums and great films have excellent emotional flows, and by chopping up the order of the score, that effect is lost in this unique meeting of the two. Because of this rupture in cohesion, it's tough to just sit down and listen to 80-minutes of The Dark Knight Orignal Motion Picture Soundtrack.
With that said, this soundtrack is still chock full of excellent, blood-pumping work (Batman's two-note, sky-shaking theme is particularly inspiring, despite its simplicity). The greatness of the parts far outweigh the cons of the whole.
My favorite theme of the film is unfortunately only found at the 6:30 mark of opening track, "Why So Serious?" It's an out-of-tune piano alternating between two notes, symbolizing the deeper, eternal battle of good and evil underscoring Batman and The Joker's respective, archetypal characters.

It's featured most prominently near The Dark Knight's close at the end of this excellent scene.
For some reason, it's stuff like this that makes me cry. The devil is supposed to be alluring.
"C'mon, I want you to do it!"

2008 Reprise
1. Why So Serious? 9:14
2. I’m Not a Hero 6:34
3. Harvey Two-Face 6:16
4. Aggressive Expansion 4:36
5. Always A Catch 1:40
6. Blood on My Hands 2:16
7. A Little Push 2:43
8. Like a Dog Chasing Cars 5:03
9. I Am The Batman 2:00
10. And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad 2:29
11. Agent of Chaos 6:55
12. Introduce a Little Anarchy 3:42
13. Watch the World Burn 3:48
14. A Dark Knight 16:15

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