According to JournalNow.com, "Elfman is currently working
on several projects, including a documentary by filmmaker Errol Morris about
Abu Ghraib; a ballet with choreographer Twyla Tharp; and the score for a drama
called In Bloom." And from a fansite (deltorofilms.com),
Guillermo Del Torro announced (to the presumed shock of Beltrami connoisseurs)
that he will also be scoring Hellboy 2 [the Golden Army], due for release
Soundtrack.net reports that Danny Elfman is putting in a personal
appearance this month..
Celebrated composer Danny Elfman will take part in a one-on-one
keynote Q&A session at The 2006 Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film &
TV Music Conference, being held on November 14-15 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
in Los Angeles. During this rare public appearance, Elfman will sit down with
Tamara Conniff, Billboard's executive editor and associate publisher, to discuss
his career achievements, his new projects, and the evolving role of music in
film and television. For the rest of this article, see http://www.filmmusic.com/news/article/?id=850
2006 hasn't been an easy year to follow for Elfman fans. His
concert work Serenada Schizophrana, a seemingly simple one-off issue
has spawned a small cottage industry, being recorded and adapted for the underwater
IMAX epic Deep Sea 3D (40 minute documentary, still on release), and
tinkered with prior to this month's 'classical' release on CD. No doubt encouraged
by favourable reviews, Elfman decided to carry on in the same vein. On 2006.09-16-18
or 15-17 (depending on whose memory was served best), the Hollywood Bowl (conductor
John Mauceri, going out with a bang) played host to his next concert brainchild,
cunningly named a The Overeager Overture (formerly 'Overture to a Non-Existent
Musical'). No clips appear to have made it to the web (iPlodders, shame on you!)
but SoundtrackNet's Dan Goldwasser described it as "This rodeo-styled burst
of creativity and Americana was strongly thematic, wildly imaginative, and superbly
orchestrated by Steve Bartek." (source)
which makes me feel I was there.
Film-wise, Elfman's work has been mostly long-term (see future
releases), but he did manage to squeeze in a replacement score for Nacho
Libre (released 2006.06.16; official website here).
Unfortunately, this too is a complicated situation since final edit comprises
music by Elfman, the original composer (Beck [Beck Hansen, b.1970]) and from
external sources. With this in mind, the composer had his name removed from
the opening titles, and detailed cue credits added to the end. Cruel but fair.
A soundtrack is due for release 2006.10.24, at the same time as the Region 1
DVD (in the UK I have to wait until 2006.12.04!).
In keeping with the suddenly fashionable 3D craze, Nightmare
Before Christmas (perhaps in the wake of Chicken Little's successful
3D version) is released with added body (full title may be: Tim Burton's
The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D). US date is 2006.10.20,
and Disney has a flash page for it here,
which is little more than a nice picture and trailer. In commemoration, a new
Special Edition of the soundtrack will be available from 2006.10.24, which includes
a second disc featuring demo tracks and cover versions of songs from such 'luminaries'
as Marilyn Manson.
What out, Squeezit's obout. Forbidden Zone (the film that
define's the word "cult" in popular culture) is out on DVD, including
commentary and Oingo Boingo music video. Mine's, erm, in the post.
And what of the future? Well...
Charlotte's Web is still on track for a release late this
year. A website
devoted to it features trailer and other goodies including what almost certainly
is music from Danny Elfman's score! Here's
what I gleaned. Anyone agree? Easiest way is to check out what
the composer said himself about a demo of the theme for a KCRW interview.
The trailer itself is a different ketttle of fish, opening with 'the aquarium'
from Saint-Saens' Carnaval des animaux [Carnival of Animals]. Then I gave up
guessing which generic 'inspiring' 90s scores were used for the rest, cheated,
and got Far and away (John Williams) and Legends of the fall (James
Horner) courtesy of SoundtrackNet.
Meet the Robinsons is due for release 2007.03.30/31. See
a trailer here
- although the music is ripped straight from Ed Shearmur's Sky Captain etc.,
the animation and characterisation looks a real treat, so one suspects a high
profile release and decent score CD should be on the cards.
Richard Elfman's The Sixth Element (always claimed to
be a working title only) may not be released yet, but Danny was writing the
songs as far back as early 2004 according to the director. Anyone getting cramps
from sitting on their hands?
As yet unconfirmed:
...any involvement with the latest Burton/Depp collaboration based on
Steven Sondheim's musical adaptation of Sweeney Todd
...the assumption is that Danny Elfman's theme for The Simpsons
will be used in the upcoming big screen film, set for release 2007.07.27.
The teaser gives no hint since its riff on Superman Returns swiped
what sounds like a motif from Patrick Doyle's Harry Potter and the Goblet
of Fire (go figure, as they say somewhere or other)
...any involvement on the Hulk sequal The Incredible Hulk,
but hey, there's always a hope. A different slat, different director - surely
means that if Danny is involved there should be quite a change to the score
(unlike with Spider-man 2). But will he take another bite of that
poisoned sequal cake?
Never run with Edward Scissorhands
Matthew Bourne's dance/ballet/mute theatre adaptation of Tim Burton's Edward
Scissorhands for a production at London's Sadler's
Wells opened on the 22nd November, featuring themes from Danny Elfman's
score, arranged, adapted and weaved with new music by Terry Davies. On film,
Davies is most known for his orchestration and conducting work, but in the realm
of television and theatre he is known as much as a composer. Elfman's music
was surprisingly little diminished in its power by its arrangement for smaller
forces (single strings and woodwind, backed up by trumpet, percussion and synthesizers),
with the chamberlike atmosphere even enhancing the more introspective aspects
of the story. Sadly there was no avoiding the occasional synthsized chorus,
innevitably employed at the very moments one didn't wish to be reminded of it.
Quite a number of Elfman's cues were used, and a highlight of the production
for me was the morning car-drive scene rendered using no car props and simply
the families shunting around in groups of four. There was still less ballet
element here than in previous Bourne, which occasionally left me feeling cheated,
but when the central character was eventually enduced to interact and dance,
it was certainly a thrill to watch how close his scissored hands got to people's
faces - almost a circus act rather than dance. Mention of 'dance' is perhaps
the most striking feature of the production: padding out the story are a number
of pseudo '50's dance numbers straying from big band jazz to conga in style
with the occasional forray into West Side Story [clip],
and these were scored entirely by Davies, who seemed more than comfortable with
such music (and sometimes muzak). The intensity of Elfman's thematic scoring
(the main Edward themes are never far away in the film) was therefore dilluted
significantly, although Davies did add at least one pleasingly poignant melody,
normally performed by a lone recorder - a neat touch and very fitting.
Elfman Zone Mini?
Thor J. Haga has penned his very own guide to Elfman soundtrack releases for
Film Score Monthly. The first part is in its very last print issue, with text
also available online at ScreenArchives.com,
and the second is due for the next, electronic-only release of the journal.
Well worth adding to your play list if you want a compendium of mini-reviews
and did-you-knows, and no doubt a video-enabled version will be available soon
at half the price. ;o)
And the surprise news...
According to a recent off-record comment from Christopher Young, Danny Elfman
is to write new themes for the baddies in Spider-man 3. Could this be
a joke or did no, neverever, whenhellfreezesover, notonyournelly and directorfromhell...
actually mean paymeenoughandI'lldoyourbiddingmaster?
The wacky Desperate Housewives title theme garnered Danny
an Emmy addition to his meagre spoil of awards.
On completing his recent composing marathon in which at one point
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Corpse Bride and concert
work Serenada Schizophrana were all in gestation, Danny got to go out
and tour the interview circuit. Interviews covered the approaches he took in
his scores, continuing working relationship and freindship with Tim Burton,
and his recent spat with Sam Raimi which has caused him to quit from the line-up
for Spider-man 3. Elfman's work is not yet done, since he has both Charlotte's
Web and A Day in the Life of Wilbur Robinson coming up fast. Unfortunately,
the bustle with Corpse Bride mean't Elfman had to pass up the opportunity to
adapt and expand his music from the film Edward Scissorhands for the
Matthew Bourne ballet to open soon in London, although his intention to do so
in the past was earnest enough to have started work on the project.
Autumn/Fall DVD releases:
Yes, it is September, so get those jingle bells out right now
to commemorate the time of year when DVDs get a makeover and media conglomerates
make a killing. Included are Special Editions of Batman and Batman
Returns (long overdue, and probably only greenlighted to help bolster the
entry of Batman Begins onto the market), with the former at least guaranteed
a music feature: Nocturnal Overtures: The Music of Batman. At one stage
Batman Returns was also rumoured as containing one ("Inside the Elfman
Studio: Music of Batman Returns") but while the BBFC
confirms its existence, it doesn't get listed in most DVD reports. Release dates
include 2005.10.18 for the US and 2005.10.24 (do they ROW them across the Atlantic?!?!)
The Frighteners never got the cinematic pomp it deserved
(coming as it did from an unknown director... some curly-haired slightly roley-poley
guy in glasses called Peter Jackson), got a featureless DVD release, and this
year gets the least special of special editions in the form of a "Director's
Cut", bearing such wonders (gawd bless yer, guvna) as a director's commentary
and a documentary of currently unverified length or substance. But a director's
cut may finally give the film a little of the edge its original cut might have
missed, together with perhaps more music. If this slick piece of fun has had
a dust-down at last, J.R.R. Tolkien didn't spend a lifetime creating new worlds,
languages, Earth-shatteringly dark forces and a maze of sometimes impenetrably
dull books for nothing. The US release date is currently 2005.11.29, and the
EU release date is currently 2005.12.05
The current line-up for a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
DVD appears to include "Sweet Sounds: Watch the creation of the 4 Oompa-Loompa
songs by composer Danny Elfman". The current release schedule is 2005.11.08
in the US, and (just to catch us old worlders out) 2005.11.11 in Europe.
Redwood Symphony Performs West Coast Premiere of Danny Elfman's
First Symphonic Work
When: 2005.10.02 15:00 (14:00 pre-concert lecture)
Where: Bayside Performing Arts Centre, 2025 Kehoe Ave., San Mateo
Tickets: $20, $15. Order at www.redwoodsymphony.org
Redwood Symphony's 20th Anniversary Bash
Stravinsky: Greetings Prelude
Elfman: Serenada Schizophrana (West Coast premiere)
Rodrigo / Galway: Fantasia por un gentilhombre (Michelle Davis, flute)
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Redwood Symphony will perform the West Coast premiere of film composer
Danny Elfman's first symphonic work, the Serenada Schizophrana for
large orchestra and female chorus. The work received its world
premiere at Carnegie Hall by the American Composers Orchestra, Steven
Sloan conducting, on February 23, 2005. This will be only the second
performance of the work.
Elfman, 52, has written the scores for over 30 films, including
nearly every one by Tim Burton, who gave Elfman his start in Hollywood. Film
credits include the upcoming The Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate
Factory, The Nightmare Before Christmas (for which he also sang the
lead role), Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Batman, Spider-man,
Good Will Hunting, To Die For and the themes for two T.V. series,
The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives. Before his film career,
Elfman was a member of the L.A. cult rock group, Oingo Boingo.
Even after his multiple Academy Award nominations in 1998, Elfman is
considered by many to be an outsider in his own field. Extremely
talented in musical theory and performing skills, Elfman is
self-taught, a trait that distinguishes him from every other major
composer of his era.
The Serenada Schizophrana is a 40 minute, six movement
work for large orchestra and amplified female chorus. Elfman has stated that
it most shows the influence of his favourite composers, Bernard Herrmann and
Prokofiev, as well as the minimalism of Phillip Glass and jazz influences.
This premiere is part of Redwood Symphony's 20'th anniversary
celebration. The orchestra, founded by Music Director Dr. Eric
Kujawsky in 1985, has carved a unique niche for itself in the Bay Area
as an all volunteer community orchestra dedicated to the performance of
ambitious and contemporary music and the redefining of the concert
2005.09.04 Desperate Housewives is to get a "soundtrack" release on the
2005.09.20 in a compilation of pop and dialogue excerpts from the show which
smacks somewhat of promotional zeal to bolster sales of the DVD set of the first
season, released in America the same day. Nevertheless, Danny Elfman's main
titles music has had enough popular success (see how it is grouped with The
Simpsons as somehow his only contributions to television worth noting) to
ensure it a place on the very last track. Whether this will successfully capture
the Elfman market seems unlikely when, rather like The Simpsons, all
you need to do is tune into an episode and glory in the music as it was composedas
a delightful companion-piece to a fun animated credits sequence.
Perhaps in this slight lull between film project releases you'd think Danny
would be toasting his (orange) socks by the fire and planning his pension, but
no, not only is he making babies with überspouse Bridget Fonda (wooed during
a session of Red Dragon, married 2003.12, Oliver born in the new year)
but he has also entered the world of concert music. One might think this the
ultimate challenge for a film composer, but Danny maintains that his compositional
skills (the searching for themes adequate for the purpose, then spinning them
out in ever increasing circles of variation) were very much adaptable for the
purpose. And for the composer who jumped from Boingo to Batman against
all industry odds, jumping from Spiderman 2 to Serenada Schizophrana
seems a logical step for the film composer at the top of his tree. The Serenada,
originally planned as a chamber piece, was eventually realised at the Carnegie
Hall as a 6-movement 40 minute orchestral work, performed by the American Composers
Orchestra conducted by Steven Sloane, with piano solos, electronics and 8 singers
from the ACO Singers under Judith Clurman. With very positive reviews and a
standing ovation for the composer, it seems that Elfman has joined the ranks
of successful film/concert crossover composers. John Williams watch out!
And, following in line with his notion of choosing contrasting
projects to keep the creative juices flowing, we have in store a glorious succession
of releases: Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (complete with
Oompah-Loompah singing), the cult-written-all-over-it stop-motion follow-up
to NmBC:The Corpse Bride, and other weird creations rumoured in
the pipeline. It seems that after chasing the superhero blockbuster around,
Danny has come home to the place held in most Elfman fans' hearts: the quite,
[Thanks to Sydnni Frost for reminding me to update
this. You all must hate me horribly.]
I had warning ages ago that this would be published, but just checked and have
hurriedly ordered it! I've had to order from America, so you people can probably
beat me to it!
Danny Elfman's Batman: A Film Score Guide
Series: Scarecrow Film Score Guides #2
by Janet K. Halfyard
$24.95 Paper 0-8108-5126-1 192pp
The blurb says: This book examines Elfman's scoring technique
and provides a detailed analysis and commentary on the Batman score. The film
is discussed in the context of its comic-book origins and the fantasy-action
genre, setting it and its score against the late 1970s and early 1980s equivalents
such as Star Wars and Superman, and revealing how Burton and Elfman between
them changed the cinematic idea of what a superhero is. The book also explores
Elfman's musical background, his place within the film music industry and the
controversy that sprang up following the release of Batman as to whether Elfman
had actually written the music or not.
Contents listing: Editor's Foreword, Kate Daubney / Acknowledgments
/ Chapter 1: Danny Elfman's Musical Background /Chapter 2: Elfman's Scoring
Technique / Chapter 3: The Historical and Critical Context of Batman / Chapter
4: The Sound of the Score / Chapter 5: Reading the Score: Part I / Chapter 6:
Reading the Score: Part II / Notes / Bibliography / Index / About the Author
An additional book detail, but this one's not released yet. Alison McMahan is
still hoping to include a chapter on Elfman in a forthcoming book on Burton's
films. Her website includes a
page detailing this:
CHAPTER FIVE: Burton and music
Music and sound are an integral part of every Tim Burton film. What is most
memorable in Batman is the impact of the film's dense soundscape and
rich score. In addition to examining Danny Elfman's contribution, in this chapter
I will place Burton's soundscapes in the context of their historical antecedents.
Forbidden Zone website now has individually signed (and vanilla)
DVD's and Posters from director Richard Elfman. The DVDs are released 2004.08.31
and include such gems as a spanking 5.1 surround isolated music option, a commentary
track, and interviews with Danny Elfman among others.
The American Composers Orchestra's "Orchestra Underground" concert
on 21st January 2005 includes a World Premiere by Danny Elfman. More details
as they arrive.
From The Movies
'Elfman to write concert piece for Carnegie Hall' - "Elfman will be composing
the piece after he has finished his work on Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2
which will premiere on 30th June... Elfman's concert piece will be performed
by The American Composers Orchestra as a part of a concert entitled 'Orchestra
Underground' in Zankel Hall"
2004.06.01 Spider-Man 2 premieres in the US on 30th June.
2004.06.01 - Asleep since 2002...
2002 was a relatively busy year for Danny, including as it did no fewer than
three full film scores, not counting his addition to Chicago. Generally
speaking, though, he's stood by his decision not to overwork his talent, and
although some might criticise him for a lack of "serious" films, his
plan has panned out pretty well in that his projects are by-and-large either
very suited to his style or in collaboration with directors he admires and/or
knows. In 2003 Hulk saw the continuation of the super hero thread of
his career, but he continually bucks tradition and refuses to get caught in
a stylistic groove. This should make his return to Spider-Man in this year's
sequal a very interesting project. Will he adapt his existing themes with a
few additions for new characters or will he try something different. Bluntinstrument
feels the former is the most likely, and that perhaps 2005 will see a more interesting
year, with Burton's 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (due for July)
a cert, and "dark animated fairytale" 'The Corpse Bride' (confirmed
perhaps tapping into Nightmare Before Christmas or Sleepy Hollow
territory. 2004's only other known project (and things change - it almost looks
like Danny keeps his calendar free for one last-minute score a year) is the
title theme for X-Box role-playing game 'Fable', which again follows
a trend, namely to write one or two themes or cues for miscelanies per year
(last year it might have been Chicago, in 2001 is was Heartbreakers and Novocaine,
and in 2000 Stainboy).