Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Darkman: OST – Danny Elfman [#339]

440px-DarkmansoundtrackBack in the 1990s movie studios saw, from the success of Tim Burton’s Batman, that superhero movies worked and were popular. The race was on to find the next big thing. Would it be Tank Girl? Would it be Phantom? Would it be Swamp Thing? Or would it be Darkman?

Sam Raimi, unable to secure the rights to make his own version of Batman or The Shadow, went off and did what anyone else would do and created his own superhero. The Darkman tells the tale of a talented scientist who, while working on a synthetic polymer skin, is attacked by thugs, burnt, disfigured and left for dead forcing the scientist to go forth and seek revenge and administer justice.  The film was released in 1990 and stars Liam Neeson as the scientist Peyton Westlake alongside Frances McDormand and Larry Drake. I loved the film. It was one of the last films I went to see at the Liverpool Lime Street Canon Cinema.

Composer of the moment, Danny Elfman, who seems to have spent most of the 1990s writing soundtracks for films about superheroes or people with scissors for hands,  works wonders with his talents. It’s not quite Batman but has essences of Batman tonally. It probably influenced Elfman’s other works such as Spiderman and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but this is not a bad thing. Instead it shows us how composers have themes that reemerge throughout their work kind of like a signature and if you can detect it you can have a cookie.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Danny Elfman [#261]

CHANGES+IN+MINDCharlie and the Chocolate Factory – Danny Elfman

Hello again, it’s me Steelrattus, with my third guest post. Stegzy is obviously far too polite to give me the boot.

Of the three albums I’ve “reviewed” so far this is the most difficult, because there’s not a lot of substance to review. I made the mistake twice previously of choosing “best of” albums, and now we have an (original) film soundtrack!

Why I feel vaguely qualified to comment on this album requires a short bit of background. I have young children, and being someone who loves… adores films I was keen to introduce my eldest daughter to what I feel are some of the best films around. One of those was the 1971 version (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory). I was keen she watched this version first, because I feel it’s the more charming of the two film incarnations of Roald Dahl’s book. We have subsequently watched the 2005 version, which does have some charm, but is arguably spoiled by trying to be too moral. I have tried to read the book to my eldest daughter, but it’s too complicated for her at the moment. Anyway, I have the soundtracks to both films, and we have regularly sung along to them both in the car, so this particular soundtrack is fairly well ingrained in my brain.

Anyway, the soundtrack… for a Tim Burton film you won’t be surprised to find that it’s composed by Danny Elfman. The album is essentially divided into two parts. The first five tracks are all songs with lyrics, and the remaining fifteen tracks are all instrumentals that essentially act as the film’s score. One of the reasons I’d like to read the book again is that apparently the four songs about the various nasty children are taken from Dahl’s book, unlike the 1971 version which has both less and different songs (as far as the children are concerned). Elfman of course had to arrange them to music, and apparently sings them all as well using a variety of synthesised voices to reflect the Oompa-Loompas. The songs are quite fun and as mentioned I regularly sing along to them, with my eldest, in the car. The remaining tracks are a bit more forgettable and fairly standard film score fair.

Here we have the first of the songs about the children, in this case Augustus Gloop. As you can see, all the Oompa-Loompas are performed, with a bit of CGI magic, by Deep Roy. Although as mentioned above, it’s all sung by Danny Elfman.

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