Composer Hans Zimmer gets his due credit in The Weekly Rising. By Kevin P. Sullivan
Tom Hardy in "Dark Knight Rises"Photo: Warner Bros.
In the years since "Batman Begins" changed the superhero-movie game and "The Dark Knight" took it one step further, the masses have heralded Christopher Nolan as the singular source of genius behind the two films. No one — myself included — will ever deny Nolan's brilliance, but it is essential to recognize the wealth of creative masters working on the films.
Academy Award winner Wally Pfister used a mastery of cinematography to paint Gotham landscapes that are distinct in each entry in the series, yet never betray any sense of consistency with the setting. Editor Lee Smith worked with Nolan to cut the action in a way that thrills but always provides a sense of space.
But perhaps the most unsung hero of Nolan's Batman movies is composer Hans Zimmer. His work with James Newton Howard on the first two films can get lost within the chaos on the screen, but it is always there, accenting each and every memorable scene. His work on the first two films is worth revisiting, for now with the two trailers and the prologue, we've gotten a small sense of what to expect from the composer for the trilogy's conclusion.
Zimmer's last two scores for Nolan films, "The Dark Knight" and "Inception," have been, at least in part, concept-driven. A new video featured on /Film points out the uncanny similarities between the "Why So Serious?" track from the "Dark Knight" soundtrack and a song from the musical "Édith et Marcel." In another connection to the singer Édith Piaf, Zimmer famously incorporated an ultra-slow take on "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" into his score for "Inception." While both may have built off of previous pieces, Zimmer's interpretation of them made them his own and all the more memorable.
Barring any chance Édith Piaf connections, it appears Zimmer is going in an entirely different direction with his score for "The Dark Knight Rises." Though still concept-driven, the cult-like chanting signals an ambitious turn for the composer.
The second I heard the "dey-shay bah-sah-rah" chant as part of the viral campaign, it immediately caught my attention, as I'm sure it did for many others. There was something so unsettling about it then, and now that we have a better concept of what it may be in its final form, it's even scarier. When Zimmer put the request out to fans to add their voices to the chanting, we learned what kind of scale the composer and Nolan are going for. They want a worldwide chant, featuring thousands of angry voices.
The implications for Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises" could be ruinous. The talk surrounding Bane poses him as the most threatening baddie Batman has faced up until this point. We know from the trailer that at some point Bane will recruit legions to follow him and he'll be successful. The trailer tells us that the chant means "Rise," bringing the last word of the film's title into play. With so many rising against Batman and teases of the end of the legend, the question must once again be asked, "Will Batman make it out of this?"
However the story plays out, Zimmer, in his collaboration with Nolan, has created something that transcends the usual functions of a film score. He has planted an idea and created a tone that have already sparked interest even before the film hits theaters. That's an achievement worth praising, and there can be little doubt that when we do get our hands on a complete score, it will excite and thrill and prove again just how good Zimmer can be.