Batman (Elfman, 1989)


     One of the first blockbuster comic book movies was Tim Burton's "Batman", scored by Danny Elfman in the 3rd of their many collaborations.  Orchestrated by Steve Bartek (with Shirley Walker and Steven Scott Smalley), conducted by Shirley Walker and performed by the Sinfonia of London Orchestra, this score established Elfman as a major force in the film-scoring world and earned him a Grammy Award.  The theme for Batman in this film was later adapted and developed for "Batman: The Animated Series" by Elfman, and even today this march theme is probably the most iconic piece of Batman-related music before or since.  The Burton/Elfman team followed this score with the equally brilliant "Batman Returns".


     The original 1989 Warner Bros. score album is a true classic and probably one of the best orchestral soundtrack albums of the 80's, up there with Horner's Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan album presentation.  In recent years, Lala-Land Records has reissued the complete score in a couple of editions (2014 being the most recent).  The score can also be found on the 2011 Burton/Elfman 25th Anniversary Music Box with a different mix of added tracks and demos.


     The pop artist Prince contributed several songs to the film which were ultimately used as short instances of source music throughout the movie.  Elfman also used a background melody from Prince's song "Scandalous" to create a love theme for Batman and Vicki Vale.  Finally, the melody from the song "Beautiful Dreamer" (by Stephen Foster) was used as a twisted Joker love theme of sorts.  Below is a brief description of the major themes.
  • Batman theme: Opens with a 5-6 note fanfare motif (4 rising, 1-2 falling) which is then treated to variations.  Mostly minor key but has several variations including major key, triumphant, mysterious, etc.  The entire score is riddled with this theme and its variants, but it never wears out its welcome.
  • Scandalous theme: The main backing motif from Prince's "Scandalous" song, and the love theme for Bruce and Vicki.  Interestingly, the Scandalous theme also starts with a 5-note motif which mostly rises and then falls on the last note.  This cleverly reinforces the romantic aspect of the Batman theme (and possibly symbolizes the humanizing influence of Vicki on Bruce).
  • Beautiful Dreamer: From the Stephen Foster song, this high, schmaltzy melody represents the Joker's fascination with Vicki.
  • Circus theme: This waltz contrasts with the twisted violence behind the Joker's insanity.
  • Henchmen theme: This ostinato figure is very cops and robbers/gangstery.
  • Hanging Joker/Fate motif: Probably influenced by Bernard Herrmann ("Obsession", "Vertigo"), this chordal motif is a modified Batman fragment.  It's very dramatically used when the Joker is hanging above the chemical vat at his "birth" and then at the end when hanging from the helicopter ladder at his "death".     

     The below listing is based on the Lala-Land Records release, but the original 1989 album is entirely included on Disc 2 of that reissue.  The liner notes by Jeff Bond are excellent and were used as reference for the locations of themes.  The source music songs from Prince's "Batman" album are listed in the places where they occur in the chronological placement of the cues, but without track numbers/durations.

Disc One
Trk Dur. Title Film Sequence/Themes
1 2:42 Main Title 0:00: Opening logos (gothic Batmen theme in 5 notes)
0:41: "Batman" title cadence leads to an uptempo march variation of the Batman theme which has a falling B phrase as well (not used that often in the score).
1:20: Romantic variation, ending accents.
(The Batman theme actually occurs all over the place, but I only noted it below where Jeff Bond specifically highlights it in the CD liner notes.)  
The Future
(Prince)
Source music when family is looking for a cab.
2 3:24 Family 0:00: A boy and his hapless parents are mugged in an alleyway.  A dark, cowled figure moves across a rooftop (ominous Batman theme here and the next 2 sections).
First Batman 0:55: The muggers discuss the rumors of a giant bat.  Batman floats into the background.
Roof Fight 2:02: Batman beats up the 2 muggers and then disappears off the roof.
"I'm Batman."
3 1:37 Jack vs. Eckhardt Gangster Jack Napier gives dirty cop Eckhardt a payoff in a dark alley.
4 1:54 Up Building 0:00: Camera pans up the side of Boss Grissom's skyscraper.
Card Snap 0:11: Boss Grissom suspects Jack of stealing his wife Alicia, and sets him up on a fake burglary.
Vicki Waiting,
Electric Chair
(Prince)
Source music for the Wayne party as Bruce Wayne bumps into photojournalist Vicki Vale (and Commissioner Gordon is informed of Jack's burglary).
5 1:55 Bat Zone 0:00: Vicki is seen on a CCTV monitor, and Bruce investigates why Gordon and his men suddenly left the party (Batman theme over string rhythm).
Axis Set-up 1:15: Eckhardt prepares his police forces to take down Jack Napier.  Jack discovers that the burgled safe is empty.
"We've been ratted out here, boys."
6 5:42 Shootout 0:00: Jack's men and the police begin shooting at each other (Henchmen theme in low strings begins).
1:20: Batman appears on the scene (from here Batman theme appears throughout the cue).
3:09: Batman grabs Jack but is forced to release him when Gordon is held hostage by Jack's henchman, Bob.
"Nice outfit."
4:25: After falling off a railing, Jack is held by Batman above a vat of greenish chemicals.  He falls in (Hanging Joker theme).
4:50: Batman escapes from the police, and Jack's tattered hand rises from a pond of chemical sewage.
7 3:00 Dinner Transition 0:00: Bruce and Vicki leave the large dining hall and move to the kitchen (brief opening Scandalous motif).
Kitchen Dinner 0:15: Bruce and Vicki talk about their pasts and Wayne Manor (ends with Scandalous motif in winds).
Surgery 1:21: Jack removes his facial bandages and begins laughing maniacally.
8 3:59 Face-Off 0:00: At Wayne mansion, Bruce and Vicki kiss (opens with Scandalous motif).
0:11: At Grissom's place, the Joker appears.
"Is that you sugar bumps?"
"You can call me Joker.  And as you can see, I'm a lot happier."
1:51: The Joker kills Grissom while dancing insanely (Circus theme).
Beddy Bye 2:21: Bruce observes Vicki sleeping.  Later he leaves to hang upside down on a metal swing (Batman theme, peaceful, then dark).
3:19: In Grissom's office, the Joker reads the paper about the Batman (Circus theme).
"Wait till they get a load of me."
9 1:03 Roasted Dude The Joker has an unhinged self-conversation with a gangster he has just roasted.
10 1:56 Vicki Spies (Flowers) Vicki follows Bruce, who visits an alleyway to place flowers on the ground (melancholy variation of Batman theme from 0:29).
11 1:59 Clown Attack At City Hall, when gangsters announce that they are taking over Grissom's business, the Joker and his miming clowns appear and open fire.  
12 2:30 Photos 0:00: Bruce talks to his butler Alfred about Vicki.  Vicki wonders about Bruce's secret errand. 
0:49: The Joker looks over press photos covering his activities (includes musical saw from 1:04).
Beautiful Dreamer
(unused)
1:33: The Joker becomes enamored of a picture of Vicki Vale (Beautiful Dreamer theme).
"Jesus marimba!  It's hard to stay inside the lines, he he."
Beautiful Dreamer
(Stephen Foster/
Hill Bowen And His Orchestra)
The Joker becomes enamored of a picture of Vicki Vale.
13 0:33 Men at Work The Joker and his men poison the chemical factory (Henchmen theme).
14 0:30 Paper Spin 0:00: Image of spinning newspaper headline "Cosmetics Scare in Gotham".
Alicia's Mask 0:05: Alicia (her face covered in a white plaster mask), asks the Joker where he's going.
15 1:13 Vicki Gets a Gift While waiting for Bruce at the museum, Vicki gets a gas mask gift, as gas begins knocking out all of the other patrons.
Partyman
(Prince)
Source music when the Joker invades the museum and defaces the artwork.
Theme From A Summer Place
(Max Steiner/
Percy Faith and His Orchestra)
Source music as the Joker discusses Vicki's photos with her.
16 1:10 Alicia's Unmasking When Vicki sees what the Joker has done to Alicia's face, she becomes alarmed and throws water in his face.
"I'm melting!  Boo." 
17 4:25 Batman to the Rescue 0:00: Batman appears from the skylight and carries Vicki to safety (After fanfare, heroic Batman theme (including B phrase) enters and reappears throughout the next 2 subsections).
Batmobile Charge 0:25: Outside the museum, Batman tells Vicki to get in the Batmobile.  The Joker's men chase the Batmobile through Gotham.  When their path is blocked, Batman and Vicki run into an alley.
2:36: Batman uses his grapple line to get Vicki up to an overhang.  
Street Fight 3:17: Batman falls and is briefly knocked out, but eventually wakes up and takes out the Joker's henchmen (including a double-bladed sword expert).
18 1:33 Descent Into Mystery Batman and Vicki travel through the nighttime forest in the Batmobile, eventually entering the Batcave (heroic/mysterious Batman theme over Herrmannesque "Psycho" strings and Goldsmith "Omen" choir, leading to a triumphant fanfare).
19 2:48 Bat Cave 0:00: Batman gives Vicki information on how to defeat the Joker's cosmetic threat.  She eventually wakes up in her apartment.
Paper Throw 2:34: Vicki's newspaper publishes Batman's solution (shot of newspaper headline).
20 0:59 Joker's Poem After shooting Bruce, the Joker leaves with a parting poem and gift.  Bruce disappears and Vicki opens her pop-up present.
21 0:38 Sad Pictures Vicki learns of Bruce's childhood trauma from Knox.
22 4:28 Dream 0:00: While looking at police reports of his parents' murder, Bruce has a flashback of leaving a movie theater with his parents.
Challenge 1:52: In the flashback, Jack Napier shoots Bruce's parents and utters his signature poem.
Tender Bat Cave (Love theme) 2:54: Bruce is interrupted by Alfred leading Vicki into the Batcave and they discuss their future (Scandalous theme).
23 1:43 Charge of the Batmobile Bruce suits up.  The Batmobile shoots its way into Axis Chemical and blows it up with a bomb (gothic Batman theme becoming a march, kind of a mutated version of the main title ending with Fate motif fanfare accents).
Trust
(Prince)
Source music when the Joker begins his parade through the streets of Gotham.
24 0:31 Joker Flies To Gotham
(unused)
0:00: The Joker escapes in his helicopter.
Batwing I 0:13: The Batwing flies towards Gotham (Batman march theme here and in the next few action cues).
25 6:02 Batwing II/III 0:00: The Joker sees the Batwing and has his men put on masks.  He begins releasing toxic fumes from his inflatable floats.  Vicki notices while taking photos.
1:44: The Batwing dives down and assesses the situation.  Vicki accidentally knocks out Knox in the confusion.  The Batwing grabs the Joker's balloons and drags them away.
3:46: An annoyed Joker shoots his right hand man, Bob.  The Batwing flies up to silhouette against the moon, and then (4:13) dives back down to engage the Joker with guns and missiles.
5:37: The Joker's big long gun causes the Batwing to crash at the foot of Gotham Cathedral.
26 5:07 Cathedral Chase 0:00: The Joker forces Vicki to enter the cathedral with him and begin ascending (in order to rendezvous with his escape helicopter).  (the Fate motif enters on organ at 0:53).
1:17: Batman enters the cathedral, as the Joker and Vicki ascend further up the rickety wooden stairs (Fate motif reinforced by brass and cymbals).
2:25: The Joker drops one of Vicki's shoes into the darkness.
2:46: Gotham Police converge on the cathedral.
3:09: The Joker and Vicki reach the top floor.  The Joker causes one of the giant bells to fall, blocking the police from entering.  Batman eventually reaches the top floor (more Fate in organ, etc).
27 3:58 Waltz to the Death 0:00: Batman takes out an assailant with spears for boots.
0:14: The Joker dances with Vicki on the ledge, as Batman is assaulted by more of the Joker's men (Circus theme).
3:14: Vicki attempts to distract the Joker as Batman gets closer.
28 5:05 Showdown I 0:00: Batman and the Joker threaten each other, blaming each other for their own creation.  Batman beats the Joker and he goes over the ledge (Batman theme variant).
Showdown II 1:12: The Joker pulls Batman and Vicki after him.  Batman catches Vicki as the Joker attempts to knock them both off the ledge.
2:46: As the Joker is about to escape on a helicopter ladder, Batman wraps a cable between the Joker's leg and a stone gargoyle.  The Joker hangs suspended in air, his grip loosening (Hanging Joker theme).
3:44: The Joker falls to his death.  Batman and Vicki also begin to fall but Batman uses his cable gun to halt their descent and they slowly swing in a spotlight (Batman theme).
4:26: A crowd gathers around the Joker's body, which still laughs from a hidden toy (Beautiful Dreamer/Circus themes).
29 1:47 Finale Gordon activates the new Bat Signal.  Vicki sees the signal in the sky (Batman theme).  Alfred tells her that Bruce will be late (Scandalous theme).  The camera pans up to Batman standing above the city (Batman theme, triumphant, then dark).
30 1:29 End Credits End credits (Batman theme).
Scandalous
(Prince)
Song in end credits.
   

Disc Two
Trk Dur. Title Film Sequence/Themes
Original Album
1 2:37 Batman Theme (Alt mix.)
0:00: Opening logos (gothic Batmen theme in 5 notes)
0:41: "Batman" title cadence leads to an uptempo march variation of the Batman theme which has a falling B phrase as well (not used that often in the score).
1:20: Romantic variation, ending accents.
2 1:22 Roof Fight (Alt. take with added piano) Batman beats up 2 muggers and then disappears off a roof (Batman theme).
3 4:43 First Confrontation (Shootout cue, slightly edited)
0:00: Jack's men and the police begin shooting at each other  (Henchmen theme in low strings begins).
1:04: Batman appears on the scene (from here Batman theme appears throughout the cue).
2:15: Batman grabs Jack but is forced to release him when Gordon is held hostage by Jack's henchman, Bob.
"Nice outfit."
3:27: After falling off a railing, Jack is held by Batman above a vat of greenish chemicals.  He falls in (Hanging Joker theme).
3:55: Batman escapes from the police, and Jack's tattered hand rises from a pond of chemical sewage.
4 3:09 Kitchen/
Surgery/
Face-Off
(Face-Off skips the suspense prelude to Grissom's circus waltz death)
0:00: Bruce and Vicki talk about their pasts and Wayne Manor (ends with Scandalous motif in winds).
1:07: Jack removes his facial bandages and begins laughing maniacally.
2:31: The Joker kills Grissom while dancing insanely (Circus theme).
5 1:51 Flowers (Slightly edited) Vicki follows Bruce to an alleyway where he places flowers on the ground (melancholy variation of Batman theme from 0:29).
6 1:46 Clown Attack (Slightly edited) At City Hall, when gangsters announce that they are taking over Grissom's business, the Joker and his miming clowns appear and open fire. 
7 3:57 Batman to the Rescue (aka Batmobile Charge, Street Fight):
0:00: Outside a museum, Batman tells Vicki to get in the Batmobile.  The Joker's men chase the Batmobile through Gotham.  When their path is blocked, Batman and Vicki run into an alley.
2:10: Batman uses his grapple line to get Vicki to an overhang. 
2:49: Batman falls and is briefly knocked out, but eventually wakes up and takes out the Joker's henchmen (including a double-bladed sword expert).
8 1:02 Roasted Dude (occurs in film after Face-Off) The Joker has an unhinged conversation with a gangster he has just roasted.
9 2:31 Photos -
Beautiful Dreamer
(occurs in film after Clown Attack).
0:00: Bruce talks to his butler Alfred about Vicki.  Vicki wonders about Bruce's secret errand.
0:49: The Joker looks over press photos covering his activities (includes musical saw from 1:04).
1:33: The Joker becomes enamored of a picture of Vicki Vale (Beautiful Dreamer theme).
"Jesus marimba!  It's hard to stay inside the lines, he he."
10 1:33 Descent Into Mystery (Alt. mix with less choir, occurs in film after Batman to the Rescue) Batman and Vicki travel through the nighttime forest in the Batmobile, eventually entering the Batcave (heroic/mysterious Batman theme over Herrmannesque "Psycho" strings and Goldsmith "Omen" choir, leading to a triumphant fanfare).
11 2:35 Bat Cave Batman gives Vicki information on how to defeat the Joker's cosmetic threat.  She eventually wakes up in her apartment.
12 0:59 Joker's Poem After shooting Bruce in Vicki's apartment, the Joker leaves with a parting poem and gift.  Bruce disappears and Vicki opens her pop-up present.
13 2:43 Childhood Remembered (aka Dream/Challenge, slightly edited)
0:00: While looking at police reports of his parents' murder, Bruce has a flashback of leaving a movie theater with his parents.
1:52: In the flashback, Jack Napier shoots Bruce's parents and utters his signature poem.
14 1:30 Love Theme (aka Tender Bat Cave (Love theme)) Bruce is interrupted by Alfred leading Vicki into the Batcave and they discuss their future (Scandalous theme).
15 1:41 Charge of the Batmobile Bruce suits up.  The Batmobile shoots its way into Axis Chemical and blows it up with a bomb (gothic Batman theme becoming a march, kind of a mutated version of the main title ending with Fate motif fanfare accents).
16 4:45 Attack of the Batwing (aka Batwing II & III, some street confusion music edited out, etc)
0:00: During his "parade", the Joker sees the Batwing and has his men put on masks.  He begins releasing toxic fumes from inflatable floats.  Vicki notices while taking photos.
1:01: The Batwing dives down and assesses the situation. The Batwing grabs the Joker's balloons and drags them away.
2:50: The Batwing flies up to silhouette against the moon, and then dives back down to engage the Joker with guns and missiles.
4:20: The Joker's big long gun causes the Batwing to crash at the foot of Gotham Cathedral.
17 5:05 Up the Cathedral (aka Cathedral Chase, slightly edited).
0:00: The Joker forces Vicki to enter the cathedral with him and begin ascending (in order to rendezvous with his escape helicopter).  (the Fate motif enters on organ at around 0:53).
1:14: Batman enters the cathedral, as the Joker and Vicki ascend further up the rickety wooden stairs (Fate motif reinforced by brass and cymbals).
2:25: The Joker drops one of Vicki's shoes into the darkness.
2:45: Gotham Police converge on the cathedral.
3:07: The Joker and Vicki reach the top floor.  The Joker causes one of the giant bells to fall, blocking the police from entering.  Batman eventually reaches the top floor (more Fate in organ, etc).
18 3:56 Waltz to the Death 0:00: Batman takes out an assailant with spears for boots.
0:14: The Joker dances with Vicki on the ledge, as Batman is assaulted by more of the Joker's men (Circus theme).
3:14: Vicki attempts to distract the Joker as Batman gets closer.
19 3:48 Final Confrontation (aka Showdown II)
0:00: After Batman knocks the Joker off the roof, the Joker pulls Batman and Vicki down after him.  Batman catches Vicki as the Joker attempts to knock them both off the ledge.
1:30: As the Joker is about to escape on a helicopter ladder, Batman wraps a cable between his leg and a stone gargoyle.  The Joker hangs suspended in air, his grip loosening (Hanging Joker theme).
2:28: The Joker falls to his death.  Batman and Vicki also begin to fall but Batman uses his cable gun to halt their descent and they slowly swing in a spotlight (Batman theme).
3:10: A crowd gathers around the Joker's body, which still laughs from a hidden toy (Beautiful Dreamer/Circus themes).
20 1:46 Finale 0:00: Gordon activates the new Bat Signal.  Vicki sees the signal in the sky (Batman theme).  Alfred tells her that Bruce will be late (Scandalous theme).  The camera pans up to Batman standing above the city (Batman theme, triumphant, then dark).
21 1:31 Batman Theme Reprise End credits.
Bonus Tracks
22 0:11 News Theme Gotham evening news, featuring xylophone.
23 1:23 Joker's Commercial (Unused) Based on "Holiday for Strings" (David Rose).
24 1:15 Joker's Muzak
(Unused)
Source music for Joker's visit to Vicki's apartment, replaced by "Beautiful Dreamer".
25 2:42 Main Title (Alt 1) Roomier percussion and staccato brass ending.
26 2:33 Photos - Beautiful Dreamer (Alt) Slower version.
27 0:52 Batman to the Rescue (Original Ending) Alt. version.
28 1:47 Charge of the Batmobile (Film Edit) Extended with a loop.
29 2:47 Main Title (Alt 2) Alt. mix with more piano at the end.

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