Dark Knight Rises: Music
The themes of the film are all captured in the movie’s score. The music was composed by Hans Zimmer, marking his fourth collaboration with Nolan, including all three Dark Knight films. “It’s a joy and a privilege to work on these movies and to work with somebody like Chris Nolan, who invites comments and welcomes your observations,” he says.
For this final installment, the composer included echoes of the earlier scores, but, he offers, “We went in a completely different direction for Bane. I wanted to use a big symphony orchestra, but I said to them, ‘I’m going to make you unlearn everything you’ve learned. I’m going to treat you as if you were a primeval drum circle.’ And it turned out to be very liberating for them, like a musical adventure,” he smiles.
Zimmer also prominently incorporated a chant into the music associated with Bane, which became, for the composer, an opportunity to reach out to fans to participate in the film’s soundtrack. People were invited to send in their chants via UJAM—a website that can be used to compose, produce, and publish music—and thousands responded from all over the globe. Submissions were then synched to create the haunting chant heard in the film. Zimmer recalls, “I suggested to Chris that this was a way to give something back to the fans and let them be a real part of this world. There was some question about if it would work, but it all came together beautifully.”
“I have never worked with someone so dedicated to the idea that the real risk is in playing it safe,” Nolan remarks. “Hans taught me that you sometimes have to go in what appears to be the wrong direction to discover all the possibilities, and that without exploring those possibilities you can never do anything truly exceptional. He sets creative goals for every film that are higher than you ever thought practical…or even reachable.”
Zimmer says that, like the character, the theme accompanying Selina Kyle is “full of ambiguity, which is far more interesting than just being bad or good. Chris’s movies always contain a certain amount of ambiguity, and I try to put some of that into the music.”
The one musical thread spanning all three films is the music Zimmer composed for Bruce Wayne. “He’s got the simplest of themes; it’s just a little two-note motif that never quite resolves,” he describes. “I always wanted the music to somehow pose the question of ‘what if’ for Bruce. But I do think that this movie leads to a sort of resolution—that those same two notes have shifted and now provide an answer.”
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