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Soundtrack Review

Book Cover

The Film Music of Danny Elfman


Composer: Danny Elfman
Performed by: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £9.99
7 38572 12682 7
Available 16 September 2008

Bringing together Danny Elfman's best work, this collection spans over 28 years and features the composer's essential film and TV music repertoire. Here we have tracks from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Spider-Man, The Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Also included are Elfman's scores for the TV shows Sledge Hammer!, The Simpsons and Desperate Housewifes...

The Film Music of Danny Elfman contains 14 tracks from the career of one of the most notable movie soundtrack composers. However, I'd argue that this doesn't necessarily fully represent the best of his work. Just off the top of my head there are scores that are absent that should have made the final list: Charlotte's Web, Planet of the Apes (2001), Men in Black, Midnight Run and Sommersby. And, although I suppose there would have been copyright issues with the more recent titles, what about Wanted and Hellboy 2?

Some of the tracks here combine a number of individual tracks from the original score - most notably Batman. And, as I've mentioned in previous reviews, (most notably in The Indiana Jones Trilogy soundtrack) no two recordings will ever be alike. So, even if the composers for this collection were working to the same arrangement as that used on the original soundtracks, the way the final tracks are mixed will always sound different - where the mix concentrates on a different part of the orchestra at different parts of the recording. Because of this, even if you already own these scores, this compilation offers up something a little different for those who are familiar with the original recordings.

I already own, and know almost inside out, the majority of soundtracks here (in particular Batman, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas). And I'd argue that the tracks chosen here don't necessarily represent the best from each album. But then I suppose that's subjective. What we have here are, more often than not, the main or closing themes, or the tracks that are best known.

But then I suppose that compilation soundtracks of a single composer are not necessarily designed for the serious soundtrack collector, but those who are interested in scores - but not enough to purchase all of that composer's soundtracks individually.

The cover seems a little strange - and looks more like a 'The Music of Tim Burton's Films' sleeve. While a lot of Elfman's music is for weird and gothic movies, I don't think Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Mars Attacks!, Spider-Man, or any of the TV themes included, really fit under the umbrella that the cover tries to push at point of sale. And while I'm on that subject... why call it the "Film Music of..." if you're going to include TV themes as well?

Minor grumbles aside, Elfman fans will already have the majority of the material collected here. But if you don't, then this is the perfect opportunity to dip your toe into the wonderfully twisted world that is Elfman's.


Darren Rea

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