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What if Williams HAD scored Batman ‘89?


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Catching up on “The Baton” podcast and on the Episode on Last Crusade he mentions Williams was approached by the producers of Batman 89’ to score the film but had to turn it down due to schedule conflicts. 
 

Its interesting to think what he could have produced. Elfman’s score fits that film like a glove. But what Williams score do you think we could point to that might give us an inkling of what it could have sounded like? 
 

The first score that comes to mind is perhaps a more action oriented take on his sound from “Dracula”. Maybe with some of the darker bits of “Witches Of Eastwick”added in...Its fascinating to speculate.

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Might it have sounded like this? "Sir Francis and the Unicorn" from Tintin works amazingly well (even with my couple of small edits)!  

Elfman's score to Batman is one of those I would least want to let go, even if it was to be replaced by a top 20 or 25 Williams score.   There is a certain wild, simpler (yet still complex!)

Whenever this topic comes up, I have to post Mike Verta's music for the Six Flags ride - a perfect meeting place between Elfman and Williams:     Beyond that, I'm not a big fa

Whenever this topic comes up, I have to post Mike Verta's music for the Six Flags ride - a perfect meeting place between Elfman and Williams:

 

 

Beyond that, I'm not a big fan of speculation and 'what ifs', so I'll leave that to others.

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53 minutes ago, Thor said:

Whenever this topic comes up, I have to post Mike Verta's music for the Six Flags ride - a perfect meeting place between Elfman and Williams:

 

Huh.  I had never heard that before but just listened and it didn't sound very Williams-y to me >shrug<

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Really? I think it sounds spot-on Williams in between the Elfman themes. Not surprising either, since Verta is one of the best Williams pastiche composers in the world.

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I wonder if Williams would have leaned into the “Herrman-esque” vibe that Elfman channeled. Especially since he did it in the Fury. But I bet by that point in his career he would have done his own thing.

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If the producers had managed to get Williams, would Burton have fought for Elfman? They’d already done two movies together and built a good working relationship. Or would he have been happy to work with Williams?

 

It’s fun to think about what might have been, although I would hate to lose what Elfman wrote. And I have no desire to imagine what Batman Returns would have sounded like, or in what ways Williams’ ‘90s trajectory might have changed after Batman.

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This was during the time that Williams was using Dan Wallin as his recording engineer. I don't even want to think about what it would have sounded like.

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12 minutes ago, Drew said:

This was during the time that Williams was using Dan Wallin as his recording engineer. I don't even want to think about what it would have sounded like.

He could have used Shawn Murphy ala Empire of the Sun....

 

Or Armin Steiner ala Born on the Fourth of July.

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On 10/19/2020 at 10:11 PM, Thor said:

Whenever this topic comes up, I have to post Mike Verta's music for the Six Flags ride - a perfect meeting place between Elfman and Williams:

 

 

Beyond that, I'm not a big fan of speculation and 'what ifs', so I'll leave that to others.

That is pretty great stuff... and I can hear bits of Williams, the opening triplet figures in particular. All the more impressive since Elfman has his descending triplets thing and yet while the rhythm is clearly the same, the usage is pretty identifiable to each composer.

 

Dare I ask if there's a way of purchasing this? I'm pretty sure it was posted on the Williams pastiche thread and I remember wanting to add it to my library then (along with a few others).

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I am sure it would have been a more interesting score. Danny Elfman at that time was concerning soundtrack composition a solid craftsman, but Williams already an artist. When I listen to the batman soundtrack album I usually switch it off after about 15 minutes because I am bored. Different for the Batman Returns score which is much better.

 

But Elfman became for me much more interesting from the time on when he scored spiderman.

And I mentioned it before, when it comes to comparing Williams and Elfman, I really regret that Elfman never scored one of the Harry Potter sequels. His sound and theme writing would have been a perfect fit. Double Trouble from the prisoner of Askaban sounds like a lost track from "Nightmare before Christmas" anyway. He should have taken over from HP4 to my mind.

 

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12 hours ago, Tom Guernsey said:

Dare I ask if there's a way of purchasing this? I'm pretty sure it was posted on the Williams pastiche thread and I remember wanting to add it to my library then (along with a few others).

 

Yes, I've posted the clip a couple of times. Alas, I'm not aware of any physical purchasing options. Maybe it's sold at the Six Flags park? Sometimes, these things are.

 

Verta used to have a site where you could hear a lot of his music (both the pastiche stuff and other things), but it appears to be under construction at the moment. So you'd have to go to SoundCloud, Youtube and the like. I heartily recommend his score to FORBIDDEN WARRIOR, however, if you can find it.

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13 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

Yes, I've posted the clip a couple of times. Alas, I'm not aware of any physical purchasing options. Maybe it's sold at the Six Flags park? Sometimes, these things are.

 

Verta used to have a site where you could hear a lot of his music (both the pastiche stuff and other things), but it appears to be under construction at the moment. So you'd have to go to SoundCloud, Youtube and the like. I heartily recommend his score to FORBIDDEN WARRIOR, however, if you can find it.

Thanks Thor. I’ll check them out. 

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On 10/19/2020 at 11:24 PM, Edmilson said:

A modern Williams score for Batman probably would sound like a mix of WotW, Minority Report and Prisoner of Azkaban, but in the late 80s... Maybe something like Dracula and The Fury?

 

It would sound like The Book Thief.

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11 minutes ago, GerateWohl said:

As I remember the Batman score it is the five notes batman motif (three fast notes up, two down slow) in an endless loop with the instrumentation of the Simpsons' main theme.

 

Then you should listen again. I can't recognize anything of what you describe in the actual score. The Batman theme is used relatively sparingly, and it has many other musical setpieces (most prominently the goosebump-inducing "Descent Into Mystery") that have nothing to do with the theme. And The Simpsons? I can't hear any Simpsons in the score whatsoever. It's full-on Wagnerian gothic!

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4 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

Then you should listen again. I can't recognize anything of what you describe in the actual score. The Batman theme is used relatively sparingly, and it has many other musical setpieces (most prominently the goosebump-inducing "Descent Into Mystery") that have nothing to do with the theme. And The Simpsons? I can't hear any Simpsons in the score whatsoever. It's full-on Wagnerian gothic!

Sure I exagerated. I am just listening to it and I remember the relatively short theme was for my impression repeated a little bit too often.

And, yes the roof fight was the piece that reminded me especially to The Simpsons.

 

At least I am sure, if Williams would have done the score it would have been less repetitive. We might have got a rich at least 3 parts main theme and a beautiful secondary theme plus a recongizable action theme and a dedicated love theme apart from Prince's Scandalous. 

 

I agree, there is more to explore in Elfman's score as I am listening to it right now. After I had the Batman Returns score I never listened to the first one again. I even rather listened to Goldenthal's "Batman Forever" score than the first Batman score. Simply, the theme does not give me much. But it works in the film.

 

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I am happy to see all the comments that have sprung from the information I gave on my podcast about Williams almost scoring "Batman." I never tried to ponder what the music would sound like, but I do believe Burton would have fought for Danny Elfman, unsuccessfully.

 

The problem is that Jon Peters was the Harvey Weinstein of his day (minus the sex stuff) and no one said no to him. So, if Jon Peters had gotten John Williams that was the final decision. That is also part of the reason Prince got involved. Burton caved in to demands that Prince write songs and he has said often that he regrets that decision.

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On 10/24/2020 at 5:42 AM, Trumpeteer said:

I am happy to see all the comments that have sprung from the information I gave on my podcast about Williams almost scoring "Batman."

 

Actually, I remember talk and buzz about this in the 90s, so it's old information.

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My issue with Elfman/Burton collaborations of that period is, that the movies and the music flow over from irony. Often even unfunny bitter irony. That gave me hardly any touch point for emotional identification or empathy. That made the music often somehow feel superficial to me. Technically brillant maybe but superficial. Cinematically it might be a good way to approach Batman. And therefore Elfman always was the better choice for Burton movies. A perfect match. But Williams is rather the expert for emotional depths. Therefore not the best choice for the early Burton.

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