Conclusion - The Fantasy World of Danny Elfman

I happened to listen to the Fantasy Worlds of Bernard Herrmann (a wonderful compilation conducted by the master himself) before I wrote this review. It's amazing how both Elfman and Herrmann could create an entire musical world, completely cut off from our own reality. Elfman truly fashioned a score that taps the most remote provinces of the audience's (and Tim Burton's) imaginative mind. Had Elfman chosen not to use the title Music for a Darkened Theater for his compilation, then it could have been easily called the Fantasy World of Danny Elfman. This fantasy motif allows for a rich majestic tone, heightened by an orchestral complexity that hadn't been heard since Batman. This makes it a truly fascinating score; although, it must be said that this masterpiece isn't without its critics.
Many have claimed that this score, and many others like it, are immature. The use of choir, particularly the "oohs and ahs" of the Suburbia theme, has brought much disdain upon Elfman. First off, I am not sure who has the authority to brand what use of choir is mature or immature. Many composers have gone so far as to make up their own fake language, which is far more bizarre than having wordless lyrics. Personally, I feel that choirs, particularly children's choirs, can be used as instruments in and of themselves. There are surely haunting tones which a children's choir can attain that cannot be replicated by other instruments (or adult choirs, for that matter). In that sense, Elfman chooses the choir as tone setter, reflecting the moods portrayed in the film. The result is a virtual melting of tones, as if two symphonies were playing at once. If this means using numerous "oohs and ahs" to establish a relative gaiety, then so be it. I would rather have human emotion displayed by a human voice, rather than a cold, unfeeling machine.
Finally, many have argued that Elfman's music performs its task too well i.e. it upstages both the actors and the director. This is relatively false. The music is at its most compelling during scenes with sparse, if any, dialogue. Tim Burton and Danny Elfman have a symbiotic relationship which transfers over into the film. Certainly, this film could not have worked without Elfman's music. Yet, the music would have no meaning without Burton's vivid images from the film's sequences. This is particularly true when the Ice Dance sequence is taken into account. The Ice Dance theme automatically conjures up images of Winona Ryder dancing in the snow. It has been, and always will be linked with that particular image - the two cannot exist without each other - just as the stabbing strings of Psycho cannot exist without the images of a shower.
Edward Scissorhands is a study in contrast. Elfman manages to convey the innermost emotions of two lovers, and the world that tears them apart. He captures pure rage, passionate love, and brooding teenage angst with unparalleled skill. Yet, this score is more than an exercise in different themes. Bernard Herrmann once described film music as "the connecting link between celluloid and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one single experience." Danny Elfman does this, and manages to capture the angelic elegance of innocence, and the darkest depths of the jealous soul.
Not bad for a self taught rock star. . .
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