Top 5 Tim Burton/ Danny Elfman Collaborations

by - December 28, 2013

The Christmas crazy has knocked me out times two in one month. So while I rot on the couch and breath my amazing sick breath out of my chapped lips, I have a treat of a post! Brandon Engel is a blogger for who is pretty awesome. Enjoy his post can't go wrong with Tim Burton and Danny Elfman!

Tim Burton and Danny Elfman are two highly creative Californian weirdos who have managed to achieve a tremendous amount both individually and as a unit - like an ultra-nerdy goth art Voltran. Or something like that.

One of the things that is truly magical about the medium of film is the interplay of sound and image. It can be breathtaking when handled with a deft touch, and utterly ridiculous in a way that calls attention to itself when left to hacks. Elfman and Burton found something significant in each other: an aesthetically congruous approach, and one which has yielded some of the most memorable film soundtracks of all time.

Here's a look at the best of the best collaborations between the two...

5. Sleepy Hollow (1999) -- One of the things that's compelling about this soundtrack is that it veers away from the sentimental, light-hearted touches which are present in virtually every other Elfman score. The score echoes the film, in that both stay true to a relatively limited palette, and the entire film feels all the more cohesive for it. This film, perhaps more than any other, effectively conveys Burton and Elfman's love of gothic horror films in the Hammer tradition.

4. Batman (1989) -- Elfman's soundtrack was so powerful that it was also used for the popular Batman: The Animated Series which premiered in the early nineties. This soundtrack would prove to be a major turning point for both Elfman and Batman. For the former, it established his reign as a go-to composer in Hollywood, and for the latter, it helped to reinforce the notion that, in spite of the campy television show from the sixties featuring Adam West, a more sober approach to Batman could be taken seriously by both the studios and and viewing audiences (this trajectory, of course, also owes much to the influence of Frank Miller's Dark Knight comics, and has of course been expanded upon by Christopher Nolan).

3. Beetlejuice (1988) -- What's great about both this film and its score is that there is a very charming, cartoonish mania about it. It doesn't have quite the same level of restraint or earnestness that is present in Sleepy Hollow or Batman. Nor does it have the same sombreness or emotional gravity of Edward Scissorhands. It's a highly-stylized, feel-good-in-a-sort-of-disgusting-way type of film. It sounds almost like yiddish, rubber-hose animation music.

2. Edward Scissorhands (1990) -- In many ways, this film set the precedent for Nightmare...It's a score which evokes Christmas with its choir arrangements and use of bells (and it takes place over Christmas). There is a sort of bipolarity which permeates both the score and the narrative of the film itself...It's simultaneously heart-warming and gut wrenching.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) -- Elfman's scores have always played a crucial role in setting the tone for Burton's films, but this is an instance where the music and lyrics drive much of the narrative itself. Well before the film went into production, Elfman composed the music and lyrics to the film, referencing Burton's conceptual sketches. Elfman even goes a step further in this score, providing the singing voice for Jack Skellington.

Author Bio:  Brandon Engel is an entertainment blogger with He's written a number of articles on highly important subjects, including: vampires, werewolves, cartoons, and snack foods made out of novelty cereal. Brandon lives and works in Chicago.

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