Tag Archives: Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman talks Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

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Danny Elfman talks Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Let me just start by saying that I am not a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy; not the books or the movies. I don’t like the concept behind the story (did you know this started as Twilight fanfiction?) and it just…*shudders* it doesn’t sit well with me.

That being said…my ears perked up with interest when I discovered that Danny Elfman wrote the score for Fifty Shades of Grey (and he has also scored Fifty Shades Darker). I have been a fan of Elfman’s work ever since I first heard the music for Batman (1989) and I was surprised to hear that he is working on this film trilogy. Elfman isn’t the first composer I would think of when it comes to dark romantic films, but to each his own.

I can’t recommend this film, but it was interesting to briefly hear Elfman’s thoughts on how he put the important musical themes together for this story.

Now I have to ask, for those of you who may have seen Fifty Shades of Grey, did you like it at all? Was it worth seeing? I would love to hear your comments on this film, so let me know in the comments below 🙂

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Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Oh dear…I actually had some hope for this sequel at first. When Alice Through the Looking Glass was announced, I felt excited because I’d enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and I was initially up for a return to this crazy world. And then the previews started and things got…weird (and I don’t mean weird in a good way).

The more I watched and learned, the more this felt like a re-hash of the first film (with Sasha Baron Cohen thrown into the mix). I’m not ALWAYS opposed to sequels, but if the best they can do is remix the original plot…then forget it!!

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The basic plot is as follows: Alice has spent the last three years sailing on the high seas (as she said she would do at the end of the first film) but finds upon returning home that her ex-fiance has bought her father’s company and wants her ship in exchange for the family home. The Butterfly leads Alice back into Underland where things are in a right mess: the Mad Hatter is “madder” than usual, convinced his family is still alive. The White Queen asks Alice to visit Time to see if he can save the Hatter’s family in the past and from there…things get slightly screwy (okay things get royally screwy).

There are several trips back into time; we learn why the Red Queen has an abnormally shaped head (because apparently she wasn’t always like that); we learn why the White Queen is the rightful ruler and we also learn why the two sisters hate each other so much. At the end of it all, time is restored, the Hatter is reunited with his family and the White Queen and the Red Queen are friends again while Alice returns home and now sails on the high seas with her mother (somehow retaining the company? or the ship? It’s confusing…)

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That being said, Danny Elfman DID return to score the film, so that is one positive in a film that largely disappointed. I hope you enjoy this brief interview with the composer.

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

See also:

Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

If I’m perfectly honest, Alice in Wonderland (2010) should be included in my “Didn’t Think I’d Like it (But I did!)” series because, well, I really didn’t think I would like it when the previews arrived. But during my spring break that year I went to see the film because a friend of mine wanted to see it and I actually enjoyed it.

This film is actually something of a sequel to the first Alice in Wonderland (1951) because Alice is now grown up and has all but forgotten her childhood adventure in Wonderland (renamed here as “Underland”), believing it all to be just some fanciful dream she had. Finding herself on the cusp of being forcefully pushed into a marriage she doesn’t want, Alice unexpectedly returns to Wonderland/Underland, where, as it turns out, she must slay the Jabberwocky, defeat the Red Queen and return the White Queen to power. Mayhem and insanity ensues, including a hilarious sub-plot where Alice accidentally grows into a larger person and briefly joins the Red Queen’s court as a woman named “Um” (due to a misunderstanding when the Queen asked her name and she was fidgeting on how to answer).

One of the highlights of this film is the musical score by Danny Elfman. The composer is well known for his collaborations with Tim Burton, and this effort is one of their more memorable efforts in recent years. The film is also notable for using the voice of Alan Rickman (RIP) as the voice of the Caterpillar.

In the brief interview I found, Elfman briefly talks about his work on the film’s score (I always love watching interviews like this one, I just wish they could be longer!). I hope you enjoy this interview clip.

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Danny Elfman talks Meet the Robinsons (2007)

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Danny Elfman talks Meet the Robinsons (2007)

 There are (unfortunately) a lot of films in the Walt Disney canon that are extremely underrated, and Meet the Robinsons is one of them. I admit, when I saw the previews for this film, I didn’t think it was something I would like. How I ended up watching this film, I really don’t remember, but I do know that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The film follows Lewis (Jordan Fry), a 12-year old orphan who is an aspiring inventor. He’s obsessed with locating his mother, who abandoned him at an orphanage as an infant. Lewis builds a memory scanner that he hopes will show him who his mother is, but in the midst of the science fair, a strange kid named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman) shows up (claiming to be a ‘time cop’) and before he knows it, Lewis is whisked off to a strange (and pretty wonderful) future.

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In this future, there are flying cars, singing frogs and wonderful inventions for every aspect of life. It’s hundreds of times better than anything Lewis has experienced and he very much wants to stay. But first, Wilbur (who actually isn’t a time cop of any kind) needs Lewis’ help to fix one of his dad’s time machines (which crashed when the two boys got into an argument). Lewis agrees, on the condition that Wilbur take him to see his mother afterward. Lewis ends up meeting the rest of the Robinson family, all except Cornelius, the head of the family, who’s away on a business trip. Lewis really wants to be adopted by the Robinsons, but when they learn he’s from the past (and especially when they see his distinctive hair, they suddenly change their minds), upsetting Lewis, who now thinks they don’t really care about him. The truth is…kind of complicated. It turns out that Cornelius IS Lewis and Wilbur is his future son (apparently there’s no lasting harm to the space-time continuum if you meet your future family).

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At the same time all of this is going on, a strange “Bowler Hat Man” has been seen sneaking around and stealing various items. It turns out that this is Lewis’ former best friend Goob, now grown up. Goob hates Lewis/Cornelius because his projects made him so tired he didn’t make an important catch at a baseball game and he became so bitter over it that he never got adopted. As a result, he ends up working with another abandoned invention of Cornelius’ named DOR-15 (“Doris”) with the aim of stealing Lewis’ very first invention and ruining HIS future. There’s a brief glimpse of a horrifying future where the entire human population is mind-controlled by clones of Doris (Doris appears as a bowler hat but it can clamp down and obscure the eyes when it’s controlling it’s victim). Lewis is able to end this future by promising to never invent Doris in the first place, and after briefly meeting his future self (how does this not disrupt the space-time continuum??), he is returned to his own time, now knowing that the future is going to be beautiful indeed.

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Danny Elfman composed the music for this film and I think he did a brilliant job. The “Making of” video located above looks into how Elfman crafted the score and took inspiration from other cartoon composers like Carl Stalling (who was responsible for most of the music for the original Looney Tunes cartoons). There are some great shots of Elfman in the recording studio (with the work-in-progress film playing on a big screen).

Meet the Robinsons may be nearly 10 years old, but it’s still a fun film that you should definitely try (and the score is great to listen to as well). I hope you enjoy this look into the making of the music for Meet the Robinsons!

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Danny Elfman “Planet of the Apes” scoring session (2001)

*warning, extreme plot spoilers for this film and the 1968 original appear below

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Danny Elfman “Planet of the Apes” scoring session

There are two iterations of the Planet of the Apes franchise that most people know very well. The first is the original film series led by Charlton Heston beginning in 1968. This was the first of a series of five films created between 1968 and 1973. The other is the ongoing reboot that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. Inbetween the two is the sometimes forgotten (at least by me) remake Planet of the Apes that launched in 2001.

The 2001 Planet of the Apes was directed by Tim Burton and starred Mark Wahlberg as the astronaut who finds himself stranded on “the planet of the apes,” where apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, etc.) are the dominant species and humans are treated like animals. Unlike the 1968 original, which ends with Charlton Heston’s astronaut discovering that the “planet of the apes” is in fact the planet Earth in the distant future (he finds the twisted remains of the Statue of Liberty on a beach and realizes this is the ruins of Manhattan), the 2001 film ends with Mark Wahlberg’s astronaut using a space pod to launch himself back to his own time. Except, when he crash-lands in Washington D.C., everyone is still an ape (an ending that is never fully explained and was criticized by some for being too confusing).

Though the 2001 film was a financial success, Fox decided to not make any sequels and instead rebooted the series in 2011 with the hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” series starring Andy Serkis.

The music for this film was composed by Danny Elfman (of Batman fame), as Tim Burton was directing and the two are well-known for their collaborations. The above clip is a short excerpt from a recording session of the film’s soundtrack. It seems to focus primarily on the brass section, which is great because the music is stunning. I hope you enjoy this brief look at the music of Planet of the Apes (2001)! -Becky

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Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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*poster image is the property of 20th Century Fox

Danny Elfman talks Batman Returns (1992)

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Danny Elfman talks Batman Returns (1992)

It is a sad reality in Hollywood that many times a sequel does not live up to the original and this is the case with Batman Returns (1992) (though it is infinitely better than the two films that followed it). Set sometime after the events of the original film, Gotham City’s new nemesis is Oswald Cobblepot, aka “The Penguin” (Danny DeVito), a deformed child abandoned by his parents and raised by penguins, who seeks to become a respectable member of Gotham society and will employ any means to make that happen.

At the same time, corrupt businessman Max Shreck is plotting to monopolize the city’s electricity supply, a scheme that his secretary, Selina Kyle, stumbles onto. When Shreck tries to have her killed by pushing her out a window, she is mysteriously revived by a swarm of cats and adopts the identity of Catwoman. Batman has to deal with Penguin, Shreck and this mysterious female vigilante, all part of his ongoing efforts to protect Gotham City.

I’m sure I’ve seen this film as many times as the original Batman, but I simply don’t enjoy this one as much. When you’ve grown up with Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, seeing the creepy Danny DeVito Penguin is a real shock. I still like Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne though, and I wish he could’ve stayed for the remaining two films (even though I like George Clooney in Batman & Robin). The on-again/off-again romance between Catwoman and Batman is well-known to fans of the comics, and it’s nice to see it play out on the silver screen.

Danny Elfman returned to score this film and was much more confident during the process (because the first Batman had been such a big hit). Knowing that his methods worked, it wasn’t hard to derive a new score for this sequel. Regretfully, this interview isn’t very long, but I was glad to find anything relating to Batman Returns at all (finding info on sequels is relatively hard, especially if they don’t do as well as expected). The different themes for Selina/Catwoman and Penguin are discussed, and if I ever find a more in-depth discussion for this particular film I’ll be sure to add it in. For now though, please enjoy!

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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*film poster is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures

Danny Elfman talks Batman (1989)

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Danny Elfman talks Batman (1989)

With the exception of Superman: The Movie, I’m hard pressed to think of a superhero film more iconic than Tim Burton’s Batman (no offense to fans of the Christopher Nolan trilogy). Based in part on The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns comics, Batman helped to establish the modern superhero film genre and also helped ignite the DC Animated Universe (launched with the premiere of Batman: The Animated Series). The Caped Crusader was portrayed by Michael Keaton, and his eternal nemesis the Joker was brought to memorable life by Jack Nicholson.

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Several factors contributed to make this film so iconic: one is the amazing sets and backgrounds that make up Gotham City. The second is Danny Elfman’s awe-inspiring score for this film. Elfman was brought in by Burton after the two had previously collaborated for Beetlejuice (1988), this despite the fact that Elfman knew very little about the current state of Batman in comics (he was given a copy of The Dark Knight Returns for reference).

Having grown up watching re-runs of “campy Batman” starring Adam West and Burt Ward on television, I initially didn’t like this “dark” Batman at all, but as I grew older and learned about the comics history of the character, I grew to appreciate what Tim Burton had done (and there’s no denying that Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker is one for the ages).

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I was pleased to find this interview and “making of” for the Batman score and I hope you enjoy listening to it too (Elfman shares a funny story about how he came up with the iconic main theme for the film). Let me know your thoughts on Batman in the comments below!

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

See also:

Danny Elfman talks Batman Returns (1992)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

*poster image is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures