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Hans Zimmer Appreciation Thread

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Bottom line: It's still a Batman movie, and it really deserves a better developed, more complementary score than it got. Get some orchestration in there, let the electronics accent the orchestra instead of drive it, enhance the melody...lighten up when appropriate--and for crying out loud, let it soar, not pound.

"It's still a Batman movie..."

What do you mean by that, exactly? That you want a more traditionally "superheroic" score is how I take it . . . but why does every superhero movie have to be the same thing? Can't one, every now and then, do something different? Sometimes pounding is preferrable to soaring, and in my opinion, this was one of those occasions.

I don't have any of the problems you seem to have with the score. I think it digs deep into the psyche of the character it is supporting; and I care about how it plays on-screen a lot more than I care about how it plays in my car while I'm driving around.

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Muppet Treasure Island, is a terrific score indeed!

It's a pity it's one of those hard to get CDs; I was lucky to find it some years ago, when it was alreayd getting scarce.

In thinking back, The Prince of Egypt has some pretty fantastic material. [...] Now I seem to remember that the songs were written by someone else. What was the situation on that? Did the other guy write the songs and Zimmer arranged them, or did the two collaborate, or is it somewhere between the two?

I believe Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics, but Zimmer provided the music for them.

The credits read

"Songs by Stephen Schwartz" (not just "Lyrics")

and "Score by Hans Zimmer"

As I supposed, Zimmer then orchestrated the songs (FSM Vol 3 # 10, p 21).

In thinking back, The Prince of Egypt has some pretty fantastic material. It may well be Zimmer's most purely orchestral score, although it certainly has its synthetic augmentations from time to time.

I would say such scores as Spanglish, The House of Spirits, As Good As It Gets, ..., are mostly (if not completely) acoustic as well.

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I enjoy a lot of Zimmer's material as a guilty pleasure, and a lot of his smaller scores are very good, particularly Thin Red Line, which I think Zimmer put a lot of thought into, especially when you consider he was working with Terrence "replace everything with classical music" Malick.

Gladiator though, is one of the scores that got me into film music to start with, and I hate the dialogue in the second CD as well. It's a real shame that they felt the need to commercialize the CD by putting remixes and stuff already on the first album, rather than actually putting some new music on. I believe there are only two tracks on it which contain unreleased cues completely untouched, although that nice 'arabic' desert theme just before they arrive at Zucchabar is on the DVD, played over the deleted footage montage.

And that 2 disc anniversary edition was a pointless waste of space, not to mention false advertising. The film won an oscar, not the music, and 'all the music' should mean literally that. I was getting really geared up for that.

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Bottom line: It's still a Batman movie, and it really deserves a better developed, more complementary score than it got. Get some orchestration in there, let the electronics accent the orchestra instead of drive it, enhance the melody...lighten up when appropriate--and for crying out loud, let it soar, not pound.

"It's still a Batman movie..."

What do you mean by that, exactly? That you want a more traditionally "superheroic" score is how I take it . . . but why does every superhero movie have to be the same thing? Can't one, every now and then, do something different? Sometimes pounding is preferrable to soaring, and in my opinion, this was one of those occasions.

I don't have any of the problems you seem to have with the score. I think it digs deep into the psyche of the character it is supporting; and I care about how it plays on-screen a lot more than I care about how it plays in my car while I'm driving around.

What I mean is that for the most part the score simply rejects the adventurous/energetic elements of the film, and there's a lack of enthusiasm in a lot of it. It approaches it at times (the "I'm Batman" moment, I thought was done pretty doggone well, actually getting some of that in there--it's one particular case, also, where that string rhythm really works for me), but not often. When you get to the action material, it sets a mood more than it enhances or complements either the actions/visuals or the emotions of the scene. It goes more for the boom boom than it does to capture all of the elements of the action: the excitement, the suspense, the fright, and the gravity. It seems all focused on the gravity of the action, ignoring the rest of it. Sure, it's got energy, but in accompanying the visuals, it actually has an odd clunkiness to it.

The movie itself does not always take itself too seriously. It recognizes the serious elements more than previous incarnations, but there is humor, there is adventure, and on the whole it is properly balanced, top notch film. Why should the score not match in its balance and quality? There is little in the way of orchestrational depth; a lot of it is very chord-driven, not doing much of anything with the chords. I'm not sure where you're getting this stuff about it digging "deep into the psyche of the character it is supporting." If you are referring to the more emotional, string and piano based sections (which sound more like Howard, and which I like, even if they could have been improved), then I can kind of see where it might approach it. But it really doesn't go much of anywhere in the music. I don't understand how ambience is supposed to dig deep into anything. It mostly just sets a mood, one that a lot of times really takes itself far too seriously. Take the preparation scenes after he finds the cave, for instance, or the music where Bruce meets Lucius and checks out some of the gear. Instead of enjoying the anticipation and building of the character (which comes through in the story), I feel like I'm playing the N64 Goldeneye game. What would be some prime example scenes of where you felt the music really got into the character and supported him and/or the story?

The question "Why does every superhero movie have to be the same thing?" to me smacks of "John Williams is always the same--just listen to Indiana Jones, or Star Wars, or Superman--it's all the same!" There are simply certain approaches and methods that work for certain things, and I for one enjoy hearing the different music that comes from certain approaches. It doesn't make it all the same music. In the score--and in Zimmer's comments--I get a sense of doing different things for the sake of being different, and going too far with it. Now, on the other hand, I'm not saying that it should necessarily have as much of the fantastic quality of a lot of superhero scores, but I think a balance (in tone and compositional quality) between B89 and Unbreakable would've made for a fantastic score, worthy of the story, and still appropriate for this take.

As for how it plays on-screen versus how it plays in the car: Yes, it is true, the primary goal is to support the film. However, by laying there for most of the time, it does not accomplish this: it simply sets a tone. And on top of that, the best scores will enhance the film as well as just flat out be good music. Begins, for me, is kind of halfway on both ends. If I'm in the mood for a moody, largely ambient, Zimmer score with influences of both the Bruckheimer sound and JNH, then it can be a decent listen. There are things that I like about it. But a truly fulfilling listen? No. Then in the film, it does achieve its own kind of feel and sound in a way, but I find it unsatisfactory in that regard. The "superheroic" scores are great because they do accomplish both goals. Unbreakable accomplishes both goals, even though it doesn't sound as fantastical.

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I can't believe I'm typing this but I have to give Zimmer his dues on this one. The only HZ score I will listen to while driving at 19 mph.

driving-miss-daisy.jpg

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Back to Titanic was excellent with its presentation of previously unreleased score, with the exception with dialogue inserts scattered about.

Regardless that is had some source music not by Horner, the Braveheart and gladiator 2nd CDs have also unreleased socre, but have the damned dialoge too.

I mean the three CDs are a mess.

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I like some of Zimmer's scores, but his influence has greatly saturated the majority of action film scoring for the past few years. Films like Transformers and Vantage Point are scored by Zimmer's former RC crew (Steve Jablonsky and Atli Orvarsson) and a lot of the action is punctuated by the brass, strings and synth chord extensions of Zimmer's own scores. It's tiresome, really.

I appreciate it when Zimmer tries something different -- his third POTC score was truly impressive in terms of varied orchestration (loved the introduction of woodwinds and the Asian instrumentation) and his best work is exemplified in small, intimate films rather than big, loud action films. I enjoyed Batman Begins but it was mainly an extension of Zimmer's previous work for POTC and Crimson Tide. Maybe Zimmer and Howard should try a more traditional approach for The Dark Knight score and focus more on the orchestra side of things.

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There is some news about TDK score. It seems he's working with JNH again. However the concept of two-note Joker motif drives me mad.

Two notes for the Joker is like trying to give a stylish haircut to someone with already short hair.

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:P

As I stated in the TDK thread, I suspect this means he's found a good interval to start with, but he's working hard to figure out where to go with the theme. See the thread for further comments.

I appreciate it when Zimmer tries something different -- his third POTC score was truly impressive in terms of varied orchestration (loved the introduction of woodwinds and the Asian instrumentation) and his best work is exemplified in small, intimate films rather than big, loud action films. I enjoyed Batman Begins but it was mainly an extension of Zimmer's previous work for POTC and Crimson Tide. Maybe Zimmer and Howard should try a more traditional approach for The Dark Knight score and focus more on the orchestra side of things.

Indeed. I think a more orchestral focus would be a huge step in the right direction.

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I thought their score fit the film flawlessly. The music carried a lot of weight. It was heavy and dark, and you could feel that through the music, which is a difficult thing to accomplish. Zimmer's theme was well used, and there will be developments on it in The Dark Knight. When Bruce tells Rachel "It's not what I say, but what I do that defines me" and then jumps off the roof, and then the theme kicks in...perfect.

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That is one of the better moments in the score. Nonetheless, I would say that the execution of the concept could have been better. Got any specific comments on my essay above? :P

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I really enjoyed his score for The Simpsons Movie, but then I saw the credits for it.

Co-Composed and Produced by:

Hans Zimmer

Co-Composed by:

Ryeland Allison

Lorne Balfe

Henry Jackman

James Dooley

Michael Levine

Atli Orvarsson

Orchestrated by:

Bruce Fowler

Steve Bartek

Elizabeth Finch

Walt Fowler

Ken Kugler

Dave Metzger

Yvette Moriarty

Geoff Stradling

Thats a lot of names. Can anyone explain to me how something like that works?

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On the Special Edition it say they're part of "The Simpsons Music Posse."

This film probably has the absolute worst track titles (in terms of being accurate with the film). That and The Curse of the Black Pearl.

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Orchestrators do not write music. I'm pretty sure it said Additional Composers, and not Co-Composers. And it works by Hans Zimmer writing the music, and handing it down to his trainees to work with. They edit, mix, add ambience, remixes, etc.

Are you from his PR department?

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Of course, it's track titles like "Thank You, Boob Lady" that really make you want to rush to show your parents this great new CD you got.

:P :P

I understand they may want the titles to sound more....interesting to get more buys.

But things like just switching track titles randomly. For instance, "Bart's Doodle" is the music played at "Release the Hounds." At "Release the Hounds," there isn't ANY music. Some of these changes just don't make sense.

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Delorean90, I'm going to respond to some of your comments individually here:

"When you get to the action material, it sets a mood more than it enhances or complements either the actions/visuals or the emotions of the scene. It goes more for the boom boom than it does to capture all of the elements of the action: the excitement, the suspense, the fright, and the gravity. It seems all focused on the gravity of the action, ignoring the rest of it. Sure, it's got energy, but in accompanying the visuals, it actually has an odd clunkiness to it."

You argument seems to assume that Batman Begins is functioning on the level of an action movie. That's not how I see the movie at all. Therefore, to assess the music on the level of how well it functions as action music is, in my opinion, entirely off-base. The reason it seems to be "all focused on the gravity of the action" is because the movie is entirely focused on the gravity of the action. In this movie, the specific function of the score is to inform the audience of that focus; the very fact that it isn't traditional action-movie music serves to tip people off that this is a different type of movie you might have expected when you sat down with your popcorn and your Coke. One might make the argument that if the movie is doing its job correctly, then the music needn't be relied upon as a beacon for the audience; however, the music also functions to immerse us in a specific mood. More on that later.

"The movie itself does not always take itself too seriously. It recognizes the serious elements more than previous incarnations, but there is humor, there is adventure, and on the whole it is properly balanced, top notch film."

Well, for one thing, the fact that there is humor in the movie does not mean the movie isn't taking itself seriously. There's humor in a lot of very serious movies. As I recall, in this movie, those moments tend to be small and brief; they function as release valves, lest the tension becoming overbearing. How should the music reflect that? I don't think it should. My contention is that the music is always reflecting Bruce; and since Bruce is rarely the hinge upon which these humorous moments swing, it would be inappropriate for the music to reflect these scenes. (Your memory for specifics seems better than mine, though, so you might be able to provide some instances of me being wrong about that.)

"There is little in the way of orchestrational depth; a lot of it is very chord-driven, not doing much of anything with the chords. I'm not sure where you're getting this stuff about it digging "deep into the psyche of the character it is supporting." If you are referring to the more emotional, string and piano based sections (which sound more like Howard, and which I like, even if they could have been improved), then I can kind of see where it might approach it."

Well, I don't know crap about music as far as terminology, composition, or theory goes, but I certainly was not referring to the string and piano sections. The driving, propulsive sections were what I was referring to. If you can't see how this music reflects the Bruce Wayne of this movie, I'm not sure what I can do for you. But I'll try. The fact that it seems to sit there, not going anywhere, is reflective of Bruce himself. This is a man who is obsessed with his parents' death. His obsession sits there, not going anywhere; intensifying, if anything. It occasionally swells into something else for a time, representing Bruce's vague romantic inclinations, or depressive nostalgia for warm family memories (many of them centered around Alfred), or muted desire to achieve some sort of greater heroic purpose. This music is a mirror for the character as he is presented in this movie; that varies somewhat from scene to scene, but is mostly single-minded. As I said in an earlier post, I am guessing that the music will develop as the character develops through The Dark Knight and any subsequent sequels that involve all the same creative people.

"But it really doesn't go much of anywhere in the music. I don't understand how ambience is supposed to dig deep into anything. It mostly just sets a mood, one that a lot of times really takes itself far too seriously."

Well, I've always seen abient music as being something designed to enhance a mood, rather than create one. The movie creates the mood; the music backs it up, and occasionally serves to point audience members in the right direction. You're either in the mood the movie creates or you aren't; and if you aren't, then there's a decent chance that you're in some other mood, one based on your idea of what you thought the movie was going to be. Expectation versus reality, in other words (though I admit that any art is open to interpretation, and that there is no "reality" as to what it does or doesn't mean). I distinctly recall that when I saw the movie for the first time, and the music began to swell as Batman responded to Gordon's "I never thanked you" by replying "You'll never have to," I felt extremely moved. Not to tears, but just stirred in some sort of immediate way; urged to some sort of action, though the only action for me to take was to get up and leave. I had the same response when I rewatched the movie on DVD. If it doesn't work that way on some people, that doesn't invalidate it for the people it does work upon. One final point, and I don't mean it rudely: is the mood you refer to above taking itself too seriously, or are you not taking it seriously enough? After all, sometimes it's the audience that's at fault, not the art.

"Take the preparation scenes after he finds the cave, for instance"

I will. You're assuming that these scenes are intended to show the character building. I don't think that's the point at all. I think the point is to show that Bruce has found a way to indulge his obsession, which is why the music seems to not be developing. It's because in these scenes, Bruce himself isn't developing; he's sinking deeper into his obsessions. You may notice that most of the swells toward more conventional hero music accompany Bruce doing something to help other people, rather than doing something to support his obsessions. I think if you try and read the music's functionality based on what it is doing rather than on what it isn't doing, you might find that it's working.

"or the music where Bruce meets Lucius and checks out some of the gear."

I don't remember there being any music during that scene. Do you mean the scene where he gets the Tumbler, or is there another one?

"Instead of enjoying the anticipation and building of the character (which comes through in the story), I feel like I'm playing the N64 Goldeneye game."

Never played it, don't know what you mean. Love me some Bond, though.

"What would be some prime example scenes of where you felt the music really got into the character and supported him and/or the story? "

All of them.

"The question "Why does every superhero movie have to be the same thing?" to me smacks of "John Williams is always the same--just listen to Indiana Jones, or Star Wars, or Superman--it's all the same!"

Hmmm . . . those ARE all the same thing, in a way: heroic musical themes that externalize the heroic qualities of the characters they represent. Elfman's Batman theme is in the same vein. It sounded to me like you were criticizing Batman Begins for not having that kind of musical approach, and in my opinion it would be disastrous for the movie to have that kind of music; Bruce in Batman Begins has not earned that kind of music. If that was not what you were saying, my apologies for a poor reading.

"There are simply certain approaches and methods that work for certain things, and I for one enjoy hearing the different music that comes from certain approaches. It doesn't make it all the same music."

I don't know what any of that means.

"In the score--and in Zimmer's comments--I get a sense of doing different things for the sake of being different, and going too far with it."

It's not for the sake of being different; it's different because the movie itself is different, taking a richer approach to the idea of a disturbed hero than any comic-book movie to date. (The Burton Batman movies have darkness in them, too, but in the first one it's mostly superficial, and in the second one, it seems to mostly be about tortured sexuality, and the music serves to distract people from that, lest it become too overbearing. This makes sense for a movie that is designed to be a subliminal message for the masses.) Batman Begins is about crippling fear resultant to violent tragedy, and the way in which one responds to it; we're being asked to directly confront those themes right alongside Bruce, and the music serves to immerse us in the interior struggle he is going through. I found -- find -- it to be complex, moving, and extremely satisfying. The idea that it "goes too far" is entirely subjective. It went just the right distance for me.

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I believe Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics, but Zimmer provided the music for them.

No, the songs were written by Stephen Schwartz, both music and lyrics. Zimmer wrote the underscore, along with Harry Gregson-Williams, Rupert Gregson-Williams, Klaus Badelt and John Powell.

I think that's the BIG problem with every single Zimmer score: you never really can tell who writes what. Ok, film music is a collaborative art and I'm fine with that. But Zimmer elevated the notion of "group effort" to a whole new (and dangerous) level.

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Delorean90, I'm going to respond to some of your comments individually here:

"When you get to the action material, it sets a mood more than it enhances or complements either the actions/visuals or the emotions of the scene. It goes more for the boom boom than it does to capture all of the elements of the action: the excitement, the suspense, the fright, and the gravity. It seems all focused on the gravity of the action, ignoring the rest of it. Sure, it's got energy, but in accompanying the visuals, it actually has an odd clunkiness to it."

You argument seems to assume that Batman Begins is functioning on the level of an action movie. That's not how I see the movie at all. Therefore, to assess the music on the level of how well it functions as action music is, in my opinion, entirely off-base. The reason it seems to be "all focused on the gravity of the action" is because the movie is entirely focused on the gravity of the action. In this movie, the specific function of the score is to inform the audience of that focus; the very fact that it isn't traditional action-movie music serves to tip people off that this is a different type of movie you might have expected when you sat down with your popcorn and your Coke. One might make the argument that if the movie is doing its job correctly, then the music needn't be relied upon as a beacon for the audience; however, the music also functions to immerse us in a specific mood. More on that later.

"The movie itself does not always take itself too seriously. It recognizes the serious elements more than previous incarnations, but there is humor, there is adventure, and on the whole it is properly balanced, top notch film."

Well, for one thing, the fact that there is humor in the movie does not mean the movie isn't taking itself seriously. There's humor in a lot of very serious movies. As I recall, in this movie, those moments tend to be small and brief; they function as release valves, lest the tension becoming overbearing. How should the music reflect that? I don't think it should. My contention is that the music is always reflecting Bruce; and since Bruce is rarely the hinge upon which these humorous moments swing, it would be inappropriate for the music to reflect these scenes. (Your memory for specifics seems better than mine, though, so you might be able to provide some instances of me being wrong about that.)

"There is little in the way of orchestrational depth; a lot of it is very chord-driven, not doing much of anything with the chords. I'm not sure where you're getting this stuff about it digging "deep into the psyche of the character it is supporting." If you are referring to the more emotional, string and piano based sections (which sound more like Howard, and which I like, even if they could have been improved), then I can kind of see where it might approach it."

Well, I don't know crap about music as far as terminology, composition, or theory goes, but I certainly was not referring to the string and piano sections. The driving, propulsive sections were what I was referring to. If you can't see how this music reflects the Bruce Wayne of this movie, I'm not sure what I can do for you. But I'll try. The fact that it seems to sit there, not going anywhere, is reflective of Bruce himself. This is a man who is obsessed with his parents' death. His obsession sits there, not going anywhere; intensifying, if anything. It occasionally swells into something else for a time, representing Bruce's vague romantic inclinations, or depressive nostalgia for warm family memories (many of them centered around Alfred), or muted desire to achieve some sort of greater heroic purpose. This music is a mirror for the character as he is presented in this movie; that varies somewhat from scene to scene, but is mostly single-minded. As I said in an earlier post, I am guessing that the music will develop as the character develops through The Dark Knight and any subsequent sequels that involve all the same creative people.

"But it really doesn't go much of anywhere in the music. I don't understand how ambience is supposed to dig deep into anything. It mostly just sets a mood, one that a lot of times really takes itself far too seriously."

Well, I've always seen abient music as being something designed to enhance a mood, rather than create one. The movie creates the mood; the music backs it up, and occasionally serves to point audience members in the right direction. You're either in the mood the movie creates or you aren't; and if you aren't, then there's a decent chance that you're in some other mood, one based on your idea of what you thought the movie was going to be. Expectation versus reality, in other words (though I admit that any art is open to interpretation, and that there is no "reality" as to what it does or doesn't mean). I distinctly recall that when I saw the movie for the first time, and the music began to swell as Batman responded to Gordon's "I never thanked you" by replying "You'll never have to," I felt extremely moved. Not to tears, but just stirred in some sort of immediate way; urged to some sort of action, though the only action for me to take was to get up and leave. I had the same response when I rewatched the movie on DVD. If it doesn't work that way on some people, that doesn't invalidate it for the people it does work upon. One final point, and I don't mean it rudely: is the mood you refer to above taking itself too seriously, or are you not taking it seriously enough? After all, sometimes it's the audience that's at fault, not the art.

"Take the preparation scenes after he finds the cave, for instance"

I will. You're assuming that these scenes are intended to show the character building. I don't think that's the point at all. I think the point is to show that Bruce has found a way to indulge his obsession, which is why the music seems to not be developing. It's because in these scenes, Bruce himself isn't developing; he's sinking deeper into his obsessions. You may notice that most of the swells toward more conventional hero music accompany Bruce doing something to help other people, rather than doing something to support his obsessions. I think if you try and read the music's functionality based on what it is doing rather than on what it isn't doing, you might find that it's working.

"or the music where Bruce meets Lucius and checks out some of the gear."

I don't remember there being any music during that scene. Do you mean the scene where he gets the Tumbler, or is there another one?

"Instead of enjoying the anticipation and building of the character (which comes through in the story), I feel like I'm playing the N64 Goldeneye game."

Never played it, don't know what you mean. Love me some Bond, though.

"What would be some prime example scenes of where you felt the music really got into the character and supported him and/or the story? "

All of them.

"The question "Why does every superhero movie have to be the same thing?" to me smacks of "John Williams is always the same--just listen to Indiana Jones, or Star Wars, or Superman--it's all the same!"

Hmmm . . . those ARE all the same thing, in a way: heroic musical themes that externalize the heroic qualities of the characters they represent. Elfman's Batman theme is in the same vein. It sounded to me like you were criticizing Batman Begins for not having that kind of musical approach, and in my opinion it would be disastrous for the movie to have that kind of music; Bruce in Batman Begins has not earned that kind of music. If that was not what you were saying, my apologies for a poor reading.

"There are simply certain approaches and methods that work for certain things, and I for one enjoy hearing the different music that comes from certain approaches. It doesn't make it all the same music."

I don't know what any of that means.

"In the score--and in Zimmer's comments--I get a sense of doing different things for the sake of being different, and going too far with it."

It's not for the sake of being different; it's different because the movie itself is different, taking a richer approach to the idea of a disturbed hero than any comic-book movie to date. (The Burton Batman movies have darkness in them, too, but in the first one it's mostly superficial, and in the second one, it seems to mostly be about tortured sexuality, and the music serves to distract people from that, lest it become too overbearing. This makes sense for a movie that is designed to be a subliminal message for the masses.) Batman Begins is about crippling fear resultant to violent tragedy, and the way in which one responds to it; we're being asked to directly confront those themes right alongside Bruce, and the music serves to immerse us in the interior struggle he is going through. I found -- find -- it to be complex, moving, and extremely satisfying. The idea that it "goes too far" is entirely subjective. It went just the right distance for me.

Thank God I didn't read beyond the first sentence.

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I too have been going comment by comment, and I'm just now realizing that a straight post may have been more cohesive, but I'm not going to change it now. I may jump around a little (and sometimes have later comments rolling through my mind), but just bear with me.

You argument seems to assume that Batman Begins is functioning on the level of an action movie. That's not how I see the movie at all. Therefore, to assess the music on the level of how well it functions as action music is, in my opinion, entirely off-base. The reason it seems to be "all focused on the gravity of the action" is because the movie is entirely focused on the gravity of the action. In this movie, the specific function of the score is to inform the audience of that focus; the very fact that it isn't traditional action-movie music serves to tip people off that this is a different type of movie you might have expected when you sat down with your popcorn and your Coke. One might make the argument that if the movie is doing its job correctly, then the music needn't be relied upon as a beacon for the audience; however, the music also functions to immerse us in a specific mood. More on that later.

As I read your post, it became clearer to me what kinds of wavelengths we're on. Very helpful.

I'm not just talking about action music--as Begins is not just an action movie (but it has elements of it--big elements of it). As I said before, the scene itself has all of those different aspects; some relate to the action side, and others to the intellectual side. But those elements cannot, and should not, be discarded, simply because the film tackles the Batman character and mythos in a less cartoony way.

Well, for one thing, the fact that there is humor in the movie does not mean the movie isn't taking itself seriously. There's humor in a lot of very serious movies. As I recall, in this movie, those moments tend to be small and brief; they function as release valves, lest the tension becoming overbearing. How should the music reflect that? I don't think it should. My contention is that the music is always reflecting Bruce; and since Bruce is rarely the hinge upon which these humorous moments swing, it would be inappropriate for the music to reflect these scenes. (Your memory for specifics seems better than mine, though, so you might be able to provide some instances of me being wrong about that.)

I wouldn't say the movie isn't taking itself seriously at all--just that it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Now, if the music is supposed to be always reflecting Bruce, I would say that that would be a mistake. First off, what is your barometer when Bruce isn't in the scene? (And I may be taking your point too literally on that point--let me know if I am). Secondly, this drives the score into a serious rut of tunnel vision, hindering it in its ability to fully serve and complement the film. I'm not entirely sure that's entirely what they were trying to do, although it is possible--I had not thought of it this way before.

Well, I don't know crap about music as far as terminology, composition, or theory goes, but I certainly was not referring to the string and piano sections. The driving, propulsive sections were what I was referring to. If you can't see how this music reflects the Bruce Wayne of this movie, I'm not sure what I can do for you. But I'll try. The fact that it seems to sit there, not going anywhere, is reflective of Bruce himself. This is a man who is obsessed with his parents' death. His obsession sits there, not going anywhere; intensifying, if anything. It occasionally swells into something else for a time, representing Bruce's vague romantic inclinations, or depressive nostalgia for warm family memories (many of them centered around Alfred), or muted desire to achieve some sort of greater heroic purpose. This music is a mirror for the character as he is presented in this movie; that varies somewhat from scene to scene, but is mostly single-minded. As I said in an earlier post, I am guessing that the music will develop as the character develops through The Dark Knight and any subsequent sequels that involve all the same creative people.

Now this is what really feels like an excuse to not do much of anything with your music aside from set the mood and bash you over the head with the fact that Bruce has issues (which, again, I hadn't really gotten out of the score). Even if you were going to focus on the character's psychosis, you can get more musically interesting without forsaking that path. It can be done better. Listen to some Bernard Herrmann scores. "Depth" and seriousness don't require ambience and mood.

Well, I've always seen abient music as being something designed to enhance a mood, rather than create one. The movie creates the mood; the music backs it up, and occasionally serves to point audience members in the right direction. You're either in the mood the movie creates or you aren't; and if you aren't, then there's a decent chance that you're in some other mood, one based on your idea of what you thought the movie was going to be. Expectation versus reality, in other words (though I admit that any art is open to interpretation, and that there is no "reality" as to what it does or doesn't mean).

When you back up to music in general, it can enhance or create a mood (or perhaps even both at once). Music is so diverse in its expression and capabilities, that part of the disappointment is to see it restricted to ambience for a film, story, and set of characters that have so much more potential than that. Let me note that I followed the film a fair bit online before the film came out, so I already knew that Nolan was going for a darker, more serious take. That wasn't lost on me. I'll continue this in further comments.

I distinctly recall that when I saw the movie for the first time, and the music began to swell as Batman responded to Gordon's "I never thanked you" by replying "You'll never have to," I felt extremely moved. Not to tears, but just stirred in some sort of immediate way; urged to some sort of action, though the only action for me to take was to get up and leave. I had the same response when I rewatched the movie on DVD. If it doesn't work that way on some people, that doesn't invalidate it for the people it does work upon. One final point, and I don't mean it rudely: is the mood you refer to above taking itself too seriously, or are you not taking it seriously enough? After all, sometimes it's the audience that's at fault, not the art.

The "You'll never have to" moment was done very well, I thought. One thing that I find is ignored by many detractors of the Begins score is that there is indeed a strong theme for Batman, at least in the capacity of his nobility (which I haven't seen you acknowledge yet--more on that later). The finale of the film is great; it is simultaneously noble, hopeful, and anticipatory, and I thought the scoring of the finale did well with it.

I'll get to the issue of taking it seriously enough or not in a moment.

I will. You're assuming that these scenes are intended to show the character building. I don't think that's the point at all. I think the point is to show that Bruce has found a way to indulge his obsession, which is why the music seems to not be developing. It's because in these scenes, Bruce himself isn't developing; he's sinking deeper into his obsessions. You may notice that most of the swells toward more conventional hero music accompany Bruce doing something to help other people, rather than doing something to support his obsessions. I think if you try and read the music's functionality based on what it is doing rather than on what it isn't doing, you might find that it's working.

I was referring more to Batman than Bruce in the building thing. Earlier you said that ambient music doesn't create a mood, it enhances it. And yet, when you look at what's actually literally there in the scenes, they are essentially steps in the creation of Batman. So if the music is really trying to convey what you think it's trying to convey (which I'm still iffy on--I'm not saying that's not what they were going for, but it ain't necessarily so), then it is creating the mood. There's nothing wrong with that. And don't forget that the creators of the film are fans; you can deny it all you want, but no matter what psychological subtext might have been there, those scenes are indeed just as much if not moreso about the creation of Batman.

I don't understand where you're drawing the line between doing something to help people and doing something to support his obsessions. Batman helps people, whether directly or just in his one-man war on crime. It's just what he does. Without there being a need to help people, there is no Batman. It all extends from that fateful night.

I don't remember there being any music during that scene. Do you mean the scene where he gets the Tumbler, or is there another one?

No, the scene just before it, where Lucius is showing Bruce around the Applied Sciences department. I hadn't noticed that there was music the first time either--it was much more apparent when I watched it on my computer with headphones on. This was one in a small handful of scenes in the film that got music, which I felt would've played better without it--in fact, they're mixed so that on a regular TV it can be harder to recognize it.

Never played it, don't know what you mean. Love me some Bond, though.

Well, basically it just gives a modern techno-espionage feel, which is not what it's about, and never has been.

"The question "Why does every superhero movie have to be the same thing?" to me smacks of "John Williams is always the same--just listen to Indiana Jones, or Star Wars, or Superman--it's all the same!"

Hmmm . . . those ARE all the same thing, in a way: heroic musical themes that externalize the heroic qualities of the characters they represent. Elfman's Batman theme is in the same vein. It sounded to me like you were criticizing Batman Begins for not having that kind of musical approach, and in my opinion it would be disastrous for the movie to have that kind of music; Bruce in Batman Begins has not earned that kind of music. If that was not what you were saying, my apologies for a poor reading.

You're halfway there. I do think that the heroic qualities should be musically represented, because they are there. As scarred as he is, there is genuine nobility and heroism that is inherent in the character. But I don't see why the psychological issues and the heroism and nobility are mutually exclusive. Both are real elements and facets of the character.

You've talked a lot about the darkness and obsession of the character, but there's more to it than that. His intentions, goals, and motives are good. He has a moral code: no killing (of course, we won't open up the climax's can of worms--or will we? :( ). He rescues and helps people. Justice is the objective, not vengeance. He seeks to lead the city in a redemption and renewal that he has high hopes for at the end of the film. If you strip him of these elements, he is a much different character. So why should the score reduce him to a scarred individual with an obsession? This isn't just another comic book movie, but it's also not just another vigilante movie, or just another psychological movie. If it were, the approach taken in the score would be far more appropos. But there is more to it. There are elements of both.

And don't forget, Batman is a symbol...a legend. The music should be able to balance the man, the psycho, and the legend.

"There are simply certain approaches and methods that work for certain things, and I for one enjoy hearing the different music that comes from certain approaches. It doesn't make it all the same music."

I don't know what any of that means.

Let me rephrase that slightly: There are certain ways of scoring that just work well for certain types of movies and movies with certain elements to them. I have no problem with different composers writing their own music in a certain vein for movies if it enhances the film and results in interesting music. However, I now see that sameness of the actual music is probably not what you were getting at, but rather the approach.

"In the score--and in Zimmer's comments--I get a sense of doing different things for the sake of being different, and going too far with it."

It's not for the sake of being different; it's different because the movie itself is different, taking a richer approach to the idea of a disturbed hero than any comic-book movie to date. (The Burton Batman movies have darkness in them, too, but in the first one it's mostly superficial, and in the second one, it seems to mostly be about tortured sexuality, and the music serves to distract people from that, lest it become too overbearing. This makes sense for a movie that is designed to be a subliminal message for the masses.) Batman Begins is about crippling fear resultant to violent tragedy, and the way in which one responds to it; we're being asked to directly confront those themes right alongside Bruce, and the music serves to immerse us in the interior struggle he is going through. I found -- find -- it to be complex, moving, and extremely satisfying. The idea that it "goes too far" is entirely subjective. It went just the right distance for me.

I actually appreciate these deeper levels of or ways of looking at the film--but that's not all there is to it. It is a different movie, it does take a richer approach, but I don't see how compeletely rejecting important facets of the character and the film in the score does anything good aside from differentiate itself from previous incarnations. Have you heard JNH's score for Unbreakable? That isn't your average score, but it has a subdued heroism alongside the darkness that, in key moments, really does get a grander take. It's fantastic. On top of that, it has a much richer orchestral sound, something you can sink your teeth into, whereas Begins...musically, it doesn't do much. The sonic textures aren't as rich as they could be. I'm not sure what you mean by complex--it's not that complex musically, unless you mean it took a long time to figure out how to get the electronics to sound the way they wanted.

I've probably summed up my points fairly well above, but I would highly recommend checking out those other scores if you haven't heard them, or haven't heard them in a while (Unbreakable, maybe some Herrmann/Hitchcock collaboration, etc.). I will say this: the darker approach may have been easier to adjust to and accept had the music indicated more thought going into the music itself, not just the ideas and concepts. As it is, the score often feels fairly bland--and that's why I think a richer, more orchestrally focused sound, with the orchestrational talents of James Newton Howard really put into play, could really help it a lot.

EDIT: Holy crap. This is freaking long. Bryant, if you need to skip around, be my guest. I can repeat myself later. :lol:

EDIT EDIT: Made some tweaks, as my now possibly fried brain missed a couple of things.

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I will say this, Zimmer can write good music if only if he would stay away from the damn synth stuff. His smaller scores like League Of Their Own and Cool Runnings are great but when you get into the bigger league stuff like The Rock and POTC then it just kind of goes down hill from there. Yes POTC and The Rock do have some real orchestra but a lot of it is drowned out by the synth crap...

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I think that's the BIG problem with every single Zimmer score: you never really can tell who writes what. Ok, film music is a collaborative art and I'm fine with that. But Zimmer elevated the notion of "group effort" to a whole new (and dangerous) level.

How many times do I have to say this: Hans Zimmer writes all the music except for specific instances in which it says Track "so and so" by "whoever". Open up the CD insert, it's not that hard to find out who composed what.

There aren't too many scores that everyone works on. Tears Of The Sun is one of those cases though, where it has like 10 composers. Surprisingly the score is damn good. An Everlasting Piece is another one. The score is credited to Hans Zimmer & The Jigs. For years I thought The Jigs were just some Irish band or something, but in the CD it just lists basically everyone at RC. When Zimmer goes all out, he has fun with scoring the music. An Everlasting Piece is a fun score, and it works at the same time. They have fun with their jobs, just jamming out with friends is a good thing every once in awhile.

I'm going to sort through all my scores and give credit where credit is due on my iTunes, but I'm waiting for my new computer to do that.

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