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Comments about the soundtrack for The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer/Various)

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Re: Who is this reviewer?
• Posted by: Hyun21K   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Monday, July 16, 2012, at 9:33 p.m.
• IP Address: pool-71-106-235-80.lsanca.dsl-w.verizon.net
• In Response to: Re: Who is this reviewer? (Jacque)

> I think he means that he doesn't understand the copious media attention
> that Zimmer receives--interviews, publicized performances, praise by
> directors, gigs playing at the Academy Awards, etc. As for Powell's Oscar
> nomination in 2011, consider the fact that the awful score for the Social
> Network won that year for further proof that the composers that get the
> most media attention are often the most undeserving.

> Perhaps you are actually in agreement with the reviewer here. Lately
> Zimmer only creates a basic atmosphere with his music--dark, brooding,
> etc. But he doesn't go further than that and make truly dynamic, complex,
> emotionally satisfying music. He can write a cue that sounds sad
> (correction: his ghost writers can write a cue that sounds sad), but he's
> apparently lost his ability and/or willingness to tell a story with his
> music that can appropriately evoke the kinetics of a film scene. I won't
> lie and say that most film music is intellectually impressive, but it
> certainly can be, and I think that's what most people here want to hear
> from Zimmer. He's attaching himself to hugely popular franchises like
> Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and now Superman, so it seems like a
> waste to have a composer that doesn't want to push the intellectual
> boundaries of film music. John Williams did it with Star Wars, Indiana
> Jones, etc. Howard Shore did it with Lord of the Rings. We want Zimmer to
> do the same thing with the considerable number of movies that he writes
> music for.

> Honestly, I think that Howard was basically implying that they had
> creative differences. He didn't want to infringe on the relationship
> between Zimmer and Nolan--that sounds very much like Zimmer and Nolan knew
> what they wanted to do with the music and Howard didn't feel like his
> contributions were needed.

> Oh please. Beethoven and Elfman did infinitely more with their simple
> themes than Zimmer has ever done with the Batman theme. Also, Beethoven's
> four-note motif was supposed to represent a single concept--fate knocking
> on the door. But Zimmer wrote a boring two-note theme that's supposed to
> represent a very psychologically complex character. It just doesn't work.
> If you read the review, you'll see that Clemmensen complained that Zimmer
> doesn't do anything interesting with the two-note theme, even though he
> promised he would. Therein lies the problem.

> And how can you possibly say that oboe solos are a cliche when pretty much
> every technique that Zimmer and his clones use in their action scores have
> become cliches? Cliche or not, an oboe solo could really make a diverse
> contribution to the score simply by virtue of the fact that the score is
> otherwise absent in woodwinds.

> By the way, one of the nicest touches to Zimmer's score for At World's End
> was the addition of significant woodwind solos. It was one of the most
> important reasons that score became the best in its series. Clemmensen
> isn't crazy to suggest that it would work again here.

Thank you for your evaluation of my review. You do have very good points.
In my honest opinion, I think Hans Zimmer is maybe too successful for his own good. He acheived great popularity with the blockbuster action style he created, and perhaps he's afraid to deviate from that formula of success. Hans Zimmer's scores are most certainly derivative and simple, and the only recent Zimmer score I like is Inception, not because it is any different from Zimmer's other scores, only because it worked so well in the movie.

I am wondering what is your definition of complex music? Of all the film composers, I only consider John Williams capable of writing complex music, that is layered with counterpoint with imaginative orchestrating. Complexity does not make music good or bad. On a side note, John Williams composes concert music in additiong to his film scores, and his flute concerto is in fact atonal.

I am also wondering which composers you like? You mentioned John Williams and Howard Shore. Personally, I think the score from Lord of the Rings has characteristics in common with Zimmer's scores: long ostinatos and very heavily orchestrated. As another interesting side note, Howard Shore is also a concert composer who recently completed an opera based on The Fly. Moreover, Shore's entire Lord of the Rings score is indebted to Wagner's system of letimotifs.

These are my reactions from each of your comments:
1) All too correct. I have absolutely no respect for the scores being selected for best score. It's time for the music to speak for itself rather than breaking down into a popularity contest.
2) My point with that paragraph was to imply that most film composers are not as intellectual as most concert composers, with Mr. Zimmer included. I do not think most film scores lend themselves to deep analysis. Film scores are popular music, they need to sound pleasing to the masses.
3) I agree with you again! It was the review that implied that Howard got sick of Zimmer.
4) I guess Elfman did more with his theme, although his variants were fairly obvious. Of course Beethoven did more, making every major idea and accompaniment in the first movement based on that 4 note motif. My objection is subtler than that: Mr. Clemmensen listens to Mr. Zimmer's words to yell at him. I, having previously stated about my position on film music, take Zimmer's words as a grain of salt: of course the score is not intellectual, otherwise how would it be appropriate for a megablockbuster on the scale of Dark Knight Rises? Both Mr. Zimmer and Mr. Elfman lack classical training and consequently their music developes on a more obvious scale. But, more and more, Mr. Zimmer's music is beginning to remind me of another genre of classical music, minimalist music. Philip Glass, an occasional film score composer, has constructed genuine symphonies soley out of ostinatos. Another minimalist, Terry Riley, composed a piece called In C, which is the only note in the entire piece. And John Cage trumps them all, in 4'33", he asks the performer to do nothing. My objection is that the reviewer feels he is on an intellectual higher ground, which I feel is not the case.

And finally, Zimmer should not have added just woodwinds, but all sorts of exotic percussion battery to give Gotham City an industrial gleam. Think Don Davis' (another concert composer)score for the Matrix




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