The Dark Knight Rises – Score of the month

Note: I’ll not be talking about Bane’s voice. Too much has already been said…

For a movie that runs for over 2.5 hours with music in almost every scene, the CD of the score is a rather short  52 minutes. Zimmer himself said he “I wanted to make an exciting CD” and he’s definitely achieved this. For those wanting a more involved experience there are extra downloadable tracks and an IOS app available which will happily create an interact gotham-esque soundtrack to your drives around your home town.

That interaction with the viewer is matched by the close interactions between Christopher Nolan and Zimmer. Nolan describes Zimmer as  “Hans sees through the screen to the dark beating heart of the story and is faithful to that and only that”.

Just as the final film in the trilogy is impossible to take in complete isolation, so the soundtrack borrows from its predecessors but also brings new life. There are still elements of the electronic to go alongside the orchestral, though less obvious and abrasive noise elements than those used for the Joker in the previous film. The electronic elements often reveal themselves more on careful listening, supporting and adding texture to the organic elements, sometimes it’s hard to initially tell the source of the sounds.

The focus is definitely on dark and powerful. Whilst there are dynamics here, often they feel played with, caricatures of subtlty more than truely gentle or delicate. Even to my unsophisticated tastes it seems rather simple, big but pared back. That said, I love the pounding 5/4 thing that is Bane’s theme.  The opening plane scene brings us this initial thundering percussion and these strong rhythmic elements introduced here echo throughout the score.
Interestingly, the lack of any music for most of the first fight between Bane and Batman brings each hit to the fore, along with the wet subterranean soundscape. Sometimes it really is about the spaces between the notes.

A strong theme in the score was group chanting, which occurred on a couple of tracks, apparently
translating as “one rises”. This chorus was the result of an invite online for people to send in recordings of themselves chanting. As I’ve recently taken part in a similar exercise (the Universal Choir for the latest Devin Townsend album) I can certainly appreciate the appeal of such an exercise.

All the way through the album, from “A storm is coming” to “Rise” we are taken on a journey. My favourite track is probably “Imagine the Fire” where brass, strings and synths come together to outline a huge menace but not without hope…

What I liked lots: 
  • The rhythmic elements
  • Huge and powerful strings!
  • Well integrated electronic/synthetic elements.
  • The flowing nature of the finished CD, the editing has achieved a very listenable album.
What I liked less: 
  • Trying to listen seriously to music whilst suffering from an ear infection!
  • Sometimes the loudness and lack of subtlety went a bit too far, some more subtlety, long building atmosphere.
  • The realisation of how little I know about this sort of music, but that goes hand in hand with the learning so is really a good thing.
Some links about the score:
There isn’t as much information about this score as the Dark Knight, there are a few great resources out there. One of the best, which covers the whole trilogy is:
More information about the Dark Knight Rises app, can be found on the iTunes store or this article here:
(I’d originally hoped to finish this entry in January but unfortunately illness and reality got in the way slightly… )