If you, like me, are still haunted by the imagery and the sounds of The Dark Knight, then you may also find this article enlightening. The score of The Dark Knight does so much by doing so little, and it was all very deliberate. Acclaimed film composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard collaborated on the minimalist arrangements, and it’s just one of many pieces in the film’s puzzle that make it such a terrific work. For Variety, Phil Gallo chatted with Zimmer and Howard about their process:
A Joker-like smile came over Zimmer’s face as he talked about his favorite aspects of the score, a feeling that he has achieved some sort of mischievous goal.
“It’s odd to put avant garde touches on a blockbuster,” he said. “It’s tremendously enjoyable in an obsessive way. Once we stepped away from supplying a hero’s theme, we spent most of our time getting rid of notes.”
Zimmer, Howard and director Christopher Nolan worked together on the score for 2005’s “Batman Begins.” At that time, the idea of a jointly composed score by two of Hollywood’s most sought-after composers seemed like pure novelty. “Dark Knight” is hardly an encore — Zimmer and Howard gave Nolan an iPod filled with 10 hours of music cues based on just the script, which Zimmer contends the director memorized on flights to and from Hong Kong.
The score, which includes pieces composed prior to filming, has elements culled from Bach and hard rock in addition to the minimalists, and, listened to on its own, manages to get the heart palpitating.
The opening extends a full nine minutes and Zimmer swears it’s only two notes. “It was like an exercise. One tempo, two notes — what can you do with it?”