Legendary composer Hans Zimmer on how The Dark Knight saga is 'basically a punk opus’

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Nov 4, 2014

Composer Hans Zimmer has a resume that reads like a list of pretty much everything that has been awesome over the past decade or so — but his work on the Dark Knight trilogy is arguably his masterpiece.

Zimmer (Inception, Man of Steel, Sherlock Holmes) sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk music, and the full interview is an absolutely fascinating read. Seriously, if you are at all interested in music and film, this is a deep dive into one of the greatest minds in the business. Well worth the time. But back to the Batman stuff. 

The composer talks extensively about his work on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series, of which Zimmer served as composer on all three. Yeah, Nolan made the movies great, but you absolutely can’t discount the work Zimmer did to turn those films from good to great. His score made Gotham live and breathe and helped set the stakes for Batman’s journey.

We’ve pulled some choice excerpts of Zimmer below talking about what inspired him while he was scoring the series, and the tools of his trade:

“There’s one incident where I really did remember it, which was Dark Knight Rises. I dreamt that whole sort of insane Bane opus. And, so I wrote it out, and went to Warner Brothers and said you know, I had this idea, and I don’t know if it’s going to work. Have I earned the right yet to go to London and get a rather largish orchestra for a couple of days? And if it doesn’t work out, if I think it’s terrible, can we just sort of throw it in the bin, and you’re not going to say to me you just spent half the music budget? And they thought for a second, and they went, yeah, go on, do it. And it really turned out great. It was more about how to reinvent working with the orchestra, more than anything. Because you know usually you stand above them, and you talk to them, and you give them exact instructions, and this was — I just put myself, a table in front of them, so it was much more collegial, we were looking each other in the eyes. I had written it all out, and then I would go and say okay, so here are the notes, you’ve now learned them, now let’s see what we can do with them, and just start experimenting with them.  And so the whole idea was, how can you jam with 100 people in the room? And it turned out just fine …

I, actually I’ll tell you what I play. I play the computer. No, look, don’t laugh about this. I mean all music is based in one way or the other, or influenced through the ages, on technology. I mean, a violin is nothing more than a piece of wood and a dead cat. But it’s a piece of technology. So when computers came along, in the '70s, I suddenly thought, hang on a second, this is interesting. These things can become an instrument.  So I just became very interested in them, and started, playing with electronics. I think it had something to do with that my father was an inventor and I came from a fairly technical [background]. So again, it’s the idea of play. My father had a think tank, which is very similar to having a band. And I could see their process. Process is important in what we do, and if we can keep a playful…there’s an adventure in, you know, in new technology. I keep making it adapt to things it wasn’t designed to do. And so yes, I play the computer. And I play guitar. But every time I play the guitar, it basically sounds like The Sex Pistols. And it was very interesting because I just did a series of concerts in London, and one of the very classical cellists was saying to me that, you know when I picked up the guitar and I started playing Dark Knight, he goes, "Oh, now I know what that music was really written before." You know, I mean the whole of Dark Knight is basically a punk opus.”

Some footage from the interview has also been released. You can check it out below, too.

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)