Removing dialogue from the famed 1989 production
There’s an interesting question that appeared on Twitter this week.
This user asked what our favorite silent film is:
Interestingly, even though film scores as we know them today didn’t get their first boost until Max Steiner scored King Kong in 1933, silent films required music from the very beginning.
Typically, this would require a piano or organ in the theater, playing along as the action unfolded on screen.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the screening of a silent Sherlock Holmes film at the Chautauqua Institute, and famed silent film accompanist Philip Carli was there to provide an on-the-spot score for the film.
He didn’t have any music in front of him; he simply interpreted the film and expressed it through his playing.
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So when the question around about favorite silent films, this was an unexpected angle from Ben Crew, who suggested taking a “talkie” and making it silent:
He says it’s cheating, but it works really well.
Why It Works
There are three elements that make it possible for Batman to function as a silent film:
The first, without question, is Danny Elfman’s music. His score provides so much emotion: drama, eeriness, heart-pulsing action, heroism, villainy and more.
Another reason it works is Tim Burton’s gothic style. The lighting, the camera work, the set design — all of it lends itself to a very visual expression. And without a strong visual presence, silent films aren’t worth watching.
Finally, the movie manages to exude the comic book essence of Batman: it doesn’t depend on much dialogue and it’s visually-driven. Burton has managed to make this a graphic novel movie.
What do you think of his version?
And if you enjoy Batman, don’t miss this episode of the Music at the Movies podcast:
Enjoy the music,
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