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Batman (1989)
Music Composed and Co-Produced by Danny Elfman
Conducted by Shirley Walker
Orchestrations and Co-Produced by Steve Bartek
Additional Orchestrations by Shirley Walker and Steve Scott-Smalley
Recorded and Mixed by Shawn Murphy

Label (Catalogue): Warner Bros. Records, (925 977-2)
Availability: In-print
Purchasing options: Available at

"I had never written a large scale, fullblown action score and to say the least, I felt a lot of pressure. It was very challenging, but in the end, very rewarding. Not only was it fun to reach back into a more traditional style which I loved as a kid, but to finally unleash some of those 'dark' stylizations of which I'm so extremely fond." - Danny Elfman, Music For A Darkened Theater, Volume One.

There isn't enough I can say about Batman. It is singlehandedly responsible for my listening to film scores, mostly Danny Elfman, and even the reason you are looking at this page right now.

In 1989, when I first bought the cassette, I didn't own any film scores, and didn't for three years. Then I bought Batman Returns. But Batman will always be my penultimate score. It had exclusive rights to inspire me and facilitate my imagination. It is epic, grand, but with a tortured heart. Batman makes the typical action score look like fluff compared to it's emotional content. In my opinion, it is one of the top scores of all-time and like myself, christened many into the world of movie music.

I have a fun time imagening Danny as he was writing this score. It was the largest he had written at the time and must have been a daunting task, which he pulled off tremendously.

I'm always proud to play this score for non-filmmusic listeners as it crosses the boundaries of filmmusic into popular culture like Star Wars and Superman. This is an iconic score that is easily recognized and associated with Batman as the screeching strings in Psycho. The theme will always be "The Batman Theme", which can never be replaced, no matter how many sequels are written in the Batman franchise.

The music really came alive a few years later when I bought it on CD. It was much clearer and played with much more vigor. The music is wonderfully conducted by Shirley Walker and the performance is large and enveloping by the Sinfonia of London Orchestra. The music manages to juggle many themes and underlying currents to accompany the characters. We have the "Beautiful Dreamer" inspired theme for The Joker, the dark, triumphant theme for Batman and the love theme (with some help from Prince) for Vicki Vale.

There are also some oddities among the CD. There is "Descent Into Mystery", my second favorite track of all-time. It's the first and only time I can recognize in which Danny used an adult chorus in a film. "Descent Into Mystery" is the ultimate driving music, and is 90% of the scene's impact in the film.

I could rave about Batman forever (no pun intented), but I won't. I've got many more scores to comment on, so I'll just say this: I don't care who you are. I don't care if you hate Danny Elfman's music (for whatever insane reason). This score is an essential component to any serious or non-serious filmmusic listener's collection. There is absolutely no excuse why this should not be required listening in the high school's of the world!

"Nothing has been as pervasive or damaging to Elfman's reputation as the constant belief and insistence by others that he doesn't write his own music. Never mind the similarity of style from score to score, the fact that he has continued to write large-scale scores without using Shirley Walker to conduct, who people at one point assumed really wrote Batman; that the scores his lead orchestrator, Steve Bartek, have done on his own have been completely different from Elfman's music; and the sheer illogic to the assumption that Elfman could have a hidden army of ghost-writers somewhere without anyone naming names or coming forward. Yes, it is true he came up with the theme to Batman while on an airplane, then went into the john and hummed it into a tape recorder. Many composers and songwriters have been known to carry around tape recorders and hum out a melody when it comes to them; some turn over the tape to an orchestrator to flesh out, many write it themselves. Elfman took his tape of him humming the Batman theme, brought it home and wrote it out himself at a piano with pencil and paper." Lukas Kendall, Film Score Monthly, #64 / December, '95.

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Click for enlarged CD artwork
Click cover to enlarge
01. The Batman Theme (2:38)
02. Roof Fight (1:20)
03. First Confrontation (4:43)
04. Kitchen, Surgery, Face Off (3:07)
05. Flowers (1:51)
06. Clown Attack (1:45)
07. Batman To The Rescue (3:56)
08. Roasted Dude (1:01)
09. Photos/Beautiful Dreamer (2:27)
10. Descent Into Mystery (1:31)
11. The Bat Cave (2:35)
12. The Joker's Poem (:56)
13. Childhood Remembered (2:43)
14. Love Theme (1:30)
15. Charge Of The Batmobile (1:41)
16. Attack Of The Batwing (4:44)
17. Up The Cathedral (5:04)
18. Waltz To The Death (3:55)
19. The Final Confrontation (3:47)
20. Finale (1:45)
21. Batman Theme Reprise (1:28)

Total time: 54:57

Danny Elfman's music at:

Contents Site Updates News Sound and Video Filmography Features Articles 99 Discussion Board Who Is Elfman? Links Send e-mail About This Site
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