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With Frankenweenie being described as an homage to director Tim Burton’s own personal and professional history, it’s no surprise that Danny Elfman has created a soundtrack equally in tune with his own musical past. This is a wholly original work that feels inspired by the films that led him to this point in his life. Elfman has always had an instantly recognizable style of writing, and in Frankenweenie, he embraces this style to it’s fullest.
It’s not that he’s copying his prior soundtracks. Rather, he has managed to write a new score that elicits similar reactions to those of his prior soundtracks. Whether it’s the awe-filled wonder that came from Edward Scissorhands, the adventurous spirit found in Batman, or even the whimsy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there are elements of his prior writings all over the place.
It took a couple of listens, but there are some beautiful themes woven throughout the film. However, they are far more subtle than I am used to from Elfman. As every track title is perfectly encapsulated through the music, it appears that Elfman has come up with just the right accompaniment for the film. Right off the bat, with the Disney theme transitioning into the style of classics horror films, everything about this soundtrack conjures up the past in a remarkable way.
Having not seen the film, I can visualize through the music the friendship between Victor and his beloved dog, the great loss when he dies, and the excitement of his resurrection. From there, the film appears to transition into an old-school horror film, and there are cues calling to mind great adventure as well as sentimentality.
This may not be Elfman’s most recognizable work, but it feels like it might be one of the most appropriate. With the recurrence of an organ with the live orchestra and the standard Elfman choir, the score feels epic and intimate. There’s a beauty to the music that one doesn’t often hear anymore. Serving as a reminder of the remarkable collaboration between Elfman and Burton, this is a terrific work that feels perfectly suited to the film it’s accompanying.