Monday, April 23, 2012

"Batman Begins" - Complete Original Motion Picture Score (Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, 2005)


Composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
Additional Music Composed by Ramin Djawadi and Mel Wesson
Orchestrated by Brad Dechter and Bruce Fowler
Conducted by Gavin Greenaway
Performed by The Sinfonia of London Orchestra

Produced by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

Track Listing:

Disc 1:

1: Opening Titles/Young Bruce Falls (2:04)
2: Prison Nightmare (1:01)
3: Meeting Ducard (1:57)
4: The Long Walk (2:19)
5: Monastery (2:45)
6: Father To The Rescue (2:12)
7: Bruce’s Discomfort (0:37)
8: Mugging (Part 1) (1:18)
9: Mugging (Part 2) (2:50)
10: Training (2:50)
11: Campfire (3:27)
12: Courthouse (2:39)
13: Your System Is Broken (0:56)
14: Meeting Falcone (3:08)
15: Decision (2:31)
16: Hide In The Dark (2:59)
17: Initiation Into League/Temple Fight (6:30)
18: Return To Gotham (0:51)
19: Crane Warns Rachel (Part 1) (0:59)
20: Crane Warns Rachel (Part 2) (1:14)
21: The Bat Cave (2:57)
22: Wayne Enterprises (1:24)
23: Prototypes (1:41)
24: Preparing Equipment (1:49)
25: Batman Visits Gordon (1:13)
26: Why Bats (2:34)
27: Dockyard Ambush (3:10)

Disc 2:

1: Rachel Attacked (2:24)
2: Microwave Stolen (1:24)
3: Meeting Rachel (1:37)
4: Crane’s Mask (0:44)
5: Gordon At Home (1:27)
6: Batman On Fire (2:31)
7: Finders Keepers (1:41)
8: Fox Is Fired (1:11)
9: Making Medicine (4:08)
10: Fight In Crane’s Lab (5:01)
11: Back Up (1:34)
12: Batmobile Chase (5:01)
13: Rachel In Bat Cave (1:26)
14: Your Father’s Name (0:55)
15: Crane Interrogated (0:33)
16: Ducard Appears (1:08)
17: Ducard & Gotham’s Fate/Bruce Left For Dead (3:30)
18: Antidote (3:32)
19: Batman Arrives (2:30)
20: Rescue Rachel (2:55)
21: Final Confrontation (1:19)
22: Train Fight (3:18)
23: Danger Over (0:52)
24: Surveying The Ruins (3:19)
25: Gordon Says Thanks (1:51)
26: End Credits (3:30)

Disc 3:

1: Ra's Al Ghul Suite (7:15)
2: Batman Theme (3:16)
3: Prison Nightmare (Alternate Mix) (1:01)
4: Monastery (Alternate Mix) (2:45)
5: Father To The Rescue (Alternate Mix) (2:12)
6: Mugging (Part 1) (Alternate Mix) (1:06)
7: Mugging (Part 2) (Alternate Mix) (2:50)
8: Training (Alternate Mix 1) (2:53)
9: Training (Alternate Mix 2) - 2:49)
10: Campfire (Alternate Mix 1) (3:27)
11: Campfire (Alternate Mix 2) (3:27)
12: Your System Is Broken (Alternate Mix) (0:56)
13: Meeting Falcone (Alternate Mix) (3:09)
14: Decision (Alternate Mix) (2:31)
15: Crane Warns Rachel (Part 1) (Alternate Mix) (0:58)
16: Crane Warns Rachel (Part 2) (Alternate Mix) (1:14)
17: Preparing Equipment (Alternate Mix) (1:54)
18: Why Bats? (Alternate) (2:33)
19: Batman On Fire (Alternate) (2:28)
20: Batmobile Chase (Alternate Mix) (4:51)
21: Gordon Says Thanks (Alternate Mix) (1:51) 
22: Original End Credits (7:15)


To aid in the vital resurrection of Batman to the silver screen, director Christopher Nolan made the refreshing and necessary choice not to infuse his comic book spectacle with the mindless angst of a rock-a-by soundtrack.

No Maroon 5.

No Green Day.

No Snow Patrol.



For his journey into Gotham City, Nolan did away with the traps of contemporizing and stuck to his guns by providing us the duel efforts of Hans Zimmer and James Newtown Howard, who in turn delivered an often tolerable, often repetitive but very moody exhibition with their score to “Batman Begins” (2005).

Now I say repetitive because it’s literally just that.

The driving backbone of the entire score is a rhythmic, melodic motif of percussion and strings that’s clearly identifiable right out the gate with the opening of the film. This cue can subsequently be heard frequently at various tempos throughout the score.

Because of this, I truly feel that the “Begins” score doesn’t have a voice quite as illustrious as Danny Elfman’s scores for the Burton pictures. This very key is why Elfman reigns as the master of music for the caped crusader.

But that’s not to take away from Zimmer and Howard, not at all.


In fact, over time, I’ve come to appreciate the approach they took and I understand the methodology.

Several cues exist within the score that I find quite memorable and indicative of the character of Batman; certainly of the Batman Nolan was working to create.


Right at the outset, there’s the haunting chorus motif that opens “Mugging (Part 2)” which highlights the loneliness of young Bruce Wayne in the aftermath of his parent’s death and the somber atmosphere of their wake on the grounds of Wayne Manor, beautifully conceived with a light piano and high strings as Bruce and Alfred embrace in sorrow.



Another standout is “Temple Fight;” the first full blown action sequence cue of the score spanning the battle in Ra’s Al Ghul’s Himalayan Monestary as Bruce turns his back on the League of Shadows, deciding not to become a murderer for their cause.

Rightfully bombastic and pulsating as Wayne takes on the Demon’s Head, it’s a terrific motif that finally injects some much welcome brass work into the material. I also love the cue because it’s heroic without being as menacing as Zimmer and Howard’s theme for Batman, which comes into the picture later. It helps sell the idea that the important character here isn’t technically Batman but rather Bruce Wayne.

The opening of “Prototypes” (which I also frequently dub “Applied Sciences”) is a great motif introducing Bruce both to Lucius Fox as well as the concept of utilizing his companies’ vast resources for his impending crusade.

Very analytical in its tempo, it’s a great set up for the notion that this vow that Wayne has made hasn’t been made lightly. This isn’t some wealthy debutant’s idea of having a good time; the mantle he’s crafting for himself is becoming more and more formidable with the necessary tools and precision.

The string work here, particularly the incorporation of harp, is tremendously inspired and I love the string motif that enters the cue fifty three seconds in.

This track reappears in “Fox is Fired,” however it ends with a beautiful string set that works terrifically as far as atmosphere.

There’s also “Father to the Rescue,” played when Thomas Wayne retrieves his son from the catacombs he’d fallen into. This, I feel, can be identified as a ‘Love Theme’ shared both between Bruce and the memory of his parents as well as romantically between him and Rachel Dawes. It’s sweeping and very tender when necessary, but what I love about it is that there’s an underlying current of tragedy, almost inevitability in its nature.

You know that the optimism the track first implies is inevitable in its destruction and the piano work that cues in at thirty nine seconds encapsulates that ideal so simply and yet so effectively.

The track confirms the inevitability with the gorgeous string motif a minute in before the track whisks us away into the sweeping shots of Gotham City as Bruce and his parents travel by monorail to the opera

Transitioning you have the vastly bizarre and sinister turn from “Initiation into League,” when Bruce is exposed to Fear Toxin for the first time to have a duel with Ducard. From this point it’s clear to say that, while the score doesn’t have as much voice as Elfman, I WILL say that Zimmer and Howard create a great sense of atmosphere and spirit with the piece.

I also love the use of more eclectic instrumentation as a way of conveying Bruce's travels abroad. The asian flute in "Meeting Ducard" is wonderfully balanced with a combination of foreign intrigue and the swelling nobility of the strings that come into play.

The tracks' use of airy chimes and wind-like sound effects is also very good.


This approach can also be attributed to the terrific utilization of percussion throughout the score, specifically in tracks such as "Monastery."

Aesthetically, the score is very much in line with Batman as the character is being represented here, and for that it works wonders.

Of course the biggest and most recognizeable cue from the score is easily “Batmobile Chase.”  As its namesake obviously refers, this cue is heard during the Tumbler Chase in which Batman attempts to thwart the police while taking Rachel, infected by the Fear Toxin, back to the Batcave. It’s dynamite. Kinetic. No wonder it’s the most memorable cue in the picture.

Here, unlike “Temple Fight,” is where Zimmer and Howard’s own Batman Theme gets to truly shine and take flight. Thanks to the unreleased complete score, a track is included that's titled “Batman Theme” on the third disc, which highlights Zimmer and Howard’s true musical intentions for the caped crusader.
As for that theme, it’s certainly worthwhile. In this day and age with the approach that Nolan and the studio is taking with the character it DOES fit. While I prefer Elfman, it fits. And that’s all that matters.


Zimmer and Howard’s theme is Heroic without being overbearing. It's tonally in sync with this interpretation and, as with nearly all Batman themes, can be played menacingly or hauntingly; upbeat and lively or downplayed and solemn.

And you know something?

While I will always side with Danny’s “Batman March,” there IS something Zimmer and Howard’s theme does that the others don’t.

It never loses sight of the man beneath the mask.
Elfman and Goldenthal’s romps dabble in the spectacle and atmosphere of Batman but Zimmer and Howard do so while leaving a heroic human component in their melody to remind us that Bruce Wayne is still somewhere in there, hiding in the shadows of his new persona, still beating with the heart that drives his war on crime.

The score comes to a somber close with “Surveying the Ruins,” re-introducing the Love Theme amidst a tinkering on piano of a few bars from the Batman Theme as Wayne and Rachel share a tender yet, as I said, tragic kiss while walking amongst the rubble of Wayne Manor.



And as Batman takes wing in “Gordon Says Thanks,” closing out the film with his assurance to Lieutenant Gordon that thanks isn’t necessary, the score ends on a triumphant note of tempered brass and swelling strings; a note not of sheer elation and victory, but of resolve.

Things in Gotham City have finally been put on the right track towards healing and the cue reflects that wonderfully.

On the whole, the score for “Batman Begins,” on its surface, doesn’t seem that bold. Upon first impression and in many ways it isn’t (Zimmer and Howard would take care of that for the sequel though).

But I believe that, with time, I’ve come to understand the point of making the score so understated, especially when compared to the previous scores or even the future work on “The Dark Knight.” I think what they were trying to emphasize was the notion of Bruce, pure and simple.

While Batman is the persona, Bruce Wayne is the man that makes that persona exist and thrive. The score isn’t flashy and I think it’s for that reason; to encapsulate that it’s not the cape and cowl but the soul that resides beneath that surface.

An aesthetic fit for the film it represents, the “Batman Begins” score is earthy, organic but above all, I think it’s human.


I think it’s more representative of the ‘Man’ than it is of the ‘Bat.’

I think that’s a good thing in many ways and for the age we live in.


Now as you may have realized, this is a retrospective on the complete motion picture score for the film.

The score, along with its sequel, has an illustrious history to say the least.


Originally, the studio released album consisted of a single disc with 12 tracks. The tracks were initially, and cleverly, titled after sub-species of bat.

In the time since the release of the film and the score, fans knew immediately that there was more score to be found than the thin collection the studio had provided. At first, fans sought to create their own bootleg versions of the full material, including tracks that still had sound effects and dialogue littered throughout despite attempts to extract music on its own.


Eventually, composer Hans Zimmer recognized the desire for the material and a massive 3-disc unofficial collection was created, dubbed the “Complete Score.”

However, the collection is unofficial and very hard to come by. With the official soundtrack now out-of-print, the complete “Batman Begins” collection is one that can only be found in the netherworld of online torrents, search engines and file-sharing sites.

It’s my hope that at some point a label like LaLa Land Records, given their successful expansion releases for the scores to “Batman,” “Batman Returns” and “Batman Forever,” will eventually work with Zimmer to produce and release the full blown and give it its proper due.




Hans Zimmer

 James Newton Howard

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