Music has been in movies since the first “silent films” were made, and continues to be one of the most influential factors in determining how beautiful and lighthearted, or how horrific and tragic a film is perceived by the audience. This paper will provide an analysis of Hans Zimmer’s composition of the soundtrack to the movie The Dark Knight Rises. This dark, intense and emotionally pounding soundtrack pairs perfectly with the tension between the mysterious Batman character and his latest evil nemesis Bane. We will examine the musical characteristics of two selections from this soundtrack, the first selection examined is “Gotham’s Reckoning” which has become Bane’s primary theme music and will forever connect the audience with a feeling of impending doom. The second selection discussed is “Rise” the epic closing number in the movie that emotionally connects the listener to the previous films in the trilogy. There is a reoccurring rhythmic pattern used throughout this soundtrack that seemingly connects each piece in the work.
The chant heard throughout the score gives a primitive depth since the words are unrecognizable. Hans Zimmer uses synthesizers and samplers to create this modern score which is closely tied to the music previously written for the two prior films from this trilogy. There are even some parts of the new musical pieces that contain excerpts or samples from the prior films soundtracks. Zimmer uses this technique in order to recreate the emotions from the prior films to establish an immediate connection with the familiar characters. “Rise” is actually the last piece of music in the movie; however, since it is also used in both of the previous films this connection effectively marks the significant triumph of our hero in the closing scene. With the heavy repetitive percussive rhythms mixed with the dramatic low brass sounds, the music evolves and inspires while building up to a powerful crest to lift the listener’s spirit to connect with Batman’s triumph.
The piece closes with a sample of a choir boy singing that was also used in Batman Begins after Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered. This reinforces the strong emotional connection of this piece. “Gotham’s Reckoning” plays like a war march with a continuation of the rhythmic patterns with pounding percussion and heavy brass, it creates tension in the listener. The chant is used in this piece to exhibit the conflict between the characters and intensify the emotional effect of the piece. The music keeps the focus on the action in the film by alternating the pounding rhythm of the drums with a haunting arrangement of strings. Therefore, when you see Bane in the film, this music will automatically invoke the intense emotions as if you were coming face to face with the villain.
In conclusion, I personally enjoyed the soundtrack while watching the film and didn’t think much about how the music evoked my emotions, but more how it seemingly framed each scene with the correct tone of darkness and anticipation. However, when I listened to the soundtrack without the film, I realized how emotionally connected I have become to the characters in the film. During parts of this soundtrack I could feel my heart rate increase as I focused on the pounding drums, knowing that Bane was about to blow up Gotham City. In other parts I could feel the pride of Batman’s accomplishments of keeping Gotham safe, yet once again. Overall, I believe Han Zimmer did an excellent job creating this soundtrack and listening to it really makes me want to see the next installment or creation of Batman.