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Holy Superlatives! A Brief Appreciation of "The Dark Knight" and Its Score

A Brief Appreciation of "The Dark Knight" and Its Score

July 18, 2018 | by James Greene, Jr.

On this date 10 years ago Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight opened to titanic critical and commercial success, a watershed moment that proved Batman and the Joker could exist in an episode of "Law & Order." The film, Nolan's sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, works as a tense drama thanks in no small part to the cold, minimalist tapestry woven by score composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. The rhythmic uncertainty accentuates this tale of a city on edge and heroes and villains on the brink.

The Dark Knight was so successful even the studio that bankrolled it couldn't stop copying the template, which is why the Warner Bros cinematic output featuring people in capes and masks is often referred to as "the murder-verse." Even Wonder Woman, their most vibrant and buoyant hero, spends a portion of her film in a glowering grey hell. Maybe we wouldn't be complaining if they put more Prince songs in these current DC Comics movies.

The true legacy of The Dark Knight, however, may be Heath Ledger's instantly iconic Joker makeup, which has been Photoshopped on every politician's face since 2008. What a shame Nolan didn't use King Tut as the heavy in this film; imagine incensed pundits painting little Pharaoh beards on Hillary and Trump.

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