Who is the BAT MAN well the music for BATMAN is definitely firmly in the hands of composer Danny Elfman, the dark, ominous and rich themes that he created for Tim Burtons original BATMAN movie back in 1989, this is certainly an iconic score and one which I have to say for me personally can never be beaten. I remember when it was announced that Elfman was to score the movie I was a little surprised but as soon as I heard the opening notes I knew straight away that this was something fresh, something exciting and something that would be lasting and special. Listening to the music now some 25 years on it still manages to surprise, delight and entertain me. In fact it was this score that made me start to take Elfman seriously as a film music composer his originality and gift to create impish and malevolent sounding themes that had a dark comedic undercurrent intrigued me and left me wanting more. His music underlined and also at times elevated the sometimes twisted scenarios and images created by Burton making them even more grotesquely attractive and compelling. The soundtrack to BATMAN has been released in many guises long playing record, Compact disc, expanded editions, re-recordings, suites by various orchestras etc etc but this particular release I have to say must be the definitive version. Produced by the ever industrious and its seems unstoppable LA LA LAND RECORDS this four disc set not only contains music from the first BATMAN movie but also includes the score from his second screen outing under the directorial supervision of Tim Burton, BATMAN RETURNS. Which originally Burton did not want to do, but was persuaded after being given even greater artistic freedom, the result was an even more offbeat and bizarre vehicle than its predecessor. In both cases Elfman’s music was an essential and important part of the filmmaking process, his over the top expansive anti hero vigilante thematic material enhancing supporting and driving the action on screen, drama and intrigue all ooze from his musical compositions, giving the Batman an uplifting but at the same time foreboding and macabre sounding soundtrack. Elfman’s BATMAN theme which is built around a six note motif has become as familiar as the Jaws theme or the opening flourishes of SUPERMAN to cinema goers and film music enthusiasts alike. The composer creating mad cap but dark musical passages for Batman, the Joker and the imposing and unsettling backdrop of Gotham city, BATMAN RETURNS gave Elfman even more scope to create thematic motifs as he was given the opportunity to create musical signatures for two more cunning and twisted adversaries in the forms of THE PENGUIN and also the feline temptress with very sharp claws CATWOMAN.
So when I write this about the LA LA LAND four disc set of Elfman,s BATMAN scores its not really a review, it’s a personal statement saying how ingenious his scores are and how inventive and innovative he was and still is. At the time of scoring these movies Elfman I suppose was a virtual newcomer to the art of film scoring although he had already worked on a number of projects, but his music was instantly recognisable as being Elfman, fitting Burton’s take on the caped crusader like the proverbial glove. This is an excellent release, filled with so many informative notes and also containing snippets of inside info on both movies and their scores, a track by track analysis and numerous images from both movies, do you need this in your collection? YES YOU DO ….