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‘Batman & Robin’: Original Motion Picture Score (1997)

— by CHAS BLANKENSHIP —

In the years following its release, “Batman & Robin” (1997) never received an official release for Elliot Goldenthal’s score by Warner Brothers Records or Atlantic…the label that released the soundtrack.

However, a comprehensive bootleg release has surfaced here and there at conventions and on the internet.

Looking back on the score for the film, there’s nowhere near the distinction between it and the original score for “Batman Forever” (1995) as there is between composer Danny Elfman’s two scores.

Even so, there are a few new standout cues composed by Goldenthal that I quite enjoy.

The “Main Titles” are actually a bit more of a mythic interpretation of Goldenthal’s original theme as depicted here and aren’t AS bombastic as the Fanfare of “Forever” (if you listen, you can tell it’s being played a bit slower…a bit more methodical).

From there, things get rip-roaring with “A New Villain/Batman Drops In” (a great highlight are the bongos and percussive elements as Commissioner Gordon fills Batman in on the chaos at the Gotham Museum) and it’s here that we’re first introduced to one of my favorite cues from the film…the “Robin Theme” (which plays between 3:08 and 3:12 in the track). I think it fits very well with Chris O’Donnell’s portrayal of the character…much more out there and heroic than what Batman himself would like to be, which makes sense given Robin being younger. The theme makes a more fulfilled appearance in the “Trust Me Now” cue.

Things take off (quite literally) with “Museum Mayhem/Blast Off/Surfs Up,” which is easily one of…if not my favorite…cues from the entire composition.

Just imagine all of the loud, kinetic score material of “Forever” and pump 10,000 CCs of adrenaline into it. For being my least favorite of the films, I always get pumped when Batman and Robin jettison from Mr. Freeze’s rocket just as the Bat-Bomb destroys it and Goldenthal’s music plays a firm hand to that end. So COOL!!!

Ultimately several of the “Forever” cues are used once again through slightly altered arrangements…but the score still manages to parlay a pretty decent amount of new material.

You’ve got “Secret’s Revealed/Alfred is Dying” which starts as a refreshingly light-hearted and emotional track meant to symbolize the sense of family shared between Bruce, Dick, Barbara and Alfred (for those who didn’t know and, as you could’ve guessed, the emotional lynch-pin for “Batman & Robin” was to drive home the importance of family…and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that). This family theme also makes an appearance at the end of the movie when Alfred is revealed to be cured thanks to Mr. Freeze’s research…and this might be my favorite piece of music from the entire score.

There’s also “The Costume Ball,” which is a deliciously madcap ode for Poison Ivy full of thriving jungle beats and light bright parade lingo…sharp trumpets and all the bells and whistles that make the Auction the gala event Wayne Enterprises must’ve intended.

The cue plays very much in line with “Mr. E’s Dance Card” from the “Forever” score…just THAT much more flamboyant (you can clearly note the re-occurrence of Goldenthal’s Batman theme throughout). But 2:30 in is when Ivy makes her presence known and this is probably one of the more distinct pieces from music from the film. It’s airy, sensual, quirky and bizarre all at the same time…which makes sense given the aura of erotic mystery that has to surround Ivy at this point. The cue also utilizes the classic “Poison Ivy” originally performed by the Coasters in 1959…here rendered quite beautifully in buzzy-burkley brass.

As you’ll easily discover, several of Poison Ivy’s cues…sort of like Chase Meridian…are adorned for the most part with sultry saxophone, which I’m always charmed by (I played alto sax in high school). Although it can come on a bit thick and obvious in its almost child-like attempts at sensuality, that’s Joel Schumacher’s Batman for you.

For the film’s main adversary, Mr. Freeze gets his own theme…though in my opinion it doesn’t live up anywhere near the themes for, say, the Penguin or the Riddler. In a way, it’s just like Christopher Young’s theme for the Sandman in “Spider-Man III”…very stereotypically evil. Even more embarrassing is the fact that a year later, for the direct to video animated film “Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero,” composer Michael McCuistion crafts a Mr. Freeze theme that is layered with such emotion…able to be played both with formidable menace and tragic remorse…but even so, Goldenthal’s theme is decent enough…albeit one-dimensional.

However, where the genius in Goldenthal’s composition lies as far as Freeze is concerned plays more on the emotional side in dealing with Freeze’s wife. Cues such as “Escaping from Arkham” come to mind right away, where Freeze makes the iconic ice sculpture of his beloved Nora…complete with the twinkling chimes of a somber snow globe.

As the core sub-plot of the film, Alfred’s illness is given a beautifully poignant cue with “Mr. Freeze’s Revenge/Beauty and the Beast.” Played by a lone trumpet, its one of my favorites and is one of the more heroic cues from the score just before it delves back into the night as Batman and Robin make their way to Freeze’s lair upon hearing of his escape.

Several other cues stand out amongst the compositions…such as the fleeting creepy choral bits of “Invading Ivy’s Garden” and the heroic panache of the final cues.

The score wraps up all big and lavish with “Storming the Observatory” (a personal favorite) and the “Final Confrontation” as Batman, Robin and Batgirl work to save Gotham from being forever frozen. It’s rounded out quite well with a rhythmic rendition of the Fanfare as Batman successfully re-calibrates the telescope to be a giant heat-ray capable of melting the ice and restoring Gotham and it all ends with “Batterdammerung” times a thousand as Batman successfully rescues the Gotham Observatory scientists from the collapse of the telescope.

On the whole and, in all honesty, this collection is a far better representation of Elliot Goldenthal’s musical approach to Batman…and it’s just a real shame that it never got a proper release.

Perhaps it, like the score for “Batman Returns,” will get its proper due somewhere down the line…because for all its loud, boisterous ambiance, the “Batman & Robin” score is a great example of a talented composer and his theatrical styling for the dynamic duo.

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“Batman & Robin”: Original Motion Picture Score” (Elliot Goldenthal, 1997/1999)

Composed by … Elliot Goldenthal
Conducted by … Jonathan Sheffer
Produced by … Matthias Gohl

Track Listing:

Disc 1:

1: Main Titles (2:19)
2: A New Villain/Batman Drops In (5:39)
3: Museum Mayhem/Blast Off/Surfs Up (5:56)
4: Frozen Stiff/The Jungle (2:32)
5: Bane is Born (4:34)
6: Nature of Family (0:48)
7: Poison Ivy/Mr. Freeze’s Plans (4:58)
8: New Family Arrives (3:57)
9: Poison Ivy (1:56)
10: Mine for the Greening/Sad Moments (3:11)
11: One More Diamond/The Costume Ball (4:47)
12: Freeze Crashes the Party (4:19)
13: A Chilling Chase (2:34)
14: Matters of Trust (2:20)
15: Freeze on Ice/Renovations (7:10)
16: Main Titles Alternate (3:35)

Disc 2:

1: Night Streets/Dick Saves Barbara (4:36)
2: Secrets Revealed/Alfred is Dying (1:47)
3: Escaping from Arkham/Mr. Freeze’s Revenge/Beauty and the Beast (4:33)
4: Adam & Evil (0:57)
5: MacGregor’s Syndrome (0:33)
6: Partners Part/Seeing the Light (5:17)
7: Access Allowed/Trust Me Now/Batgirl (7:14)
8: Invading Ivy’s Garden (4:44)
9: Ice Malice (3:08)
10: Storming the Observatory/Final Battle/A Helping Hand (13:11)
11: Partners times Three (2:03)
12: End Credits (4:53)
13: Main Title Reprise (3:36)

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3 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. chase #
    1

    i have actually never heard this soundtrack

  2. Buck Jennings #
    2

    It’s definitely an under-rated score.

  3. Buck Jennings #
    3

    Same here. I may have to track it down.



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