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Why Danny Elfman is the perfect choice to score Dumbo


This March sees the release of Disney's live-action remake of Dumbo. Featuring an all-star cast including Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green, under the direction of Tim Burton, the film promises to be a visual feast and an emotional re-imagining of the beloved Disney animation.

In addition to the great acting talent and the presence of a legendary director, there is another major Hollywood name attached to the project: composer Danny Elfman. With a career spanning almost four decades, he has made his name as the man behind some of Hollywood's biggest movies.

We think that Elfman is more than qualified to lend an extra sprinkling of magic to Dumbo, and here's why…

Danny Elfman and Tim Burton are a super-team

Back in 1985, Tim Burton directed his first feature-length film, zany comedy-adventure Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. He brought in Danny Elfman, a little-known musician who only had one feature-length credit to his name as a composer (he was best known as a member of rock group Oingo Boingo), and that was the birth of one of the most successful partnerships in Hollywood.

Over the years Elfman has teamed up with Burton on some of his most successful and critically acclaimed projects including Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, Batman Returns, Big Fish… the list goes on.

The Elfman/Burton track record is a litany of hits across the decades, and they've covered a host of diverse styles in that time. From the arresting Gothic bombast of the Batman movies to the percussive brutality of Planet of the Apes, the heart-rending choral delicacy of Edward Scissorhands to the folksy Big Fish, every collaboration strikes a different tone.

So what do they have in store for Dumbo? We don't know yet but the film's adorable, big-eared title character, not to mention the majestic big top circus setting, will surely inspire Elfman to write music that is by turns soaring and exciting.

He has previous Disney experience

Danny Elfman has worked with a huge number of film studios over the years. His uniquely eccentric musical stylings and innate understanding of film scoring have led to him being in high demand over the years, and Disney is no different.

Elfman has worked with Disney on a number of different projects over the years, from major hits such as sweeping Wizard of Oz prequel Oz the Great and Powerful to smaller, more intimate projects such as animated adventure Meet the Robinsons.

Of course, he also collaborated with both Burton and Disney on 2010's Alice in Wonderland, an enormous box office success that pivots on a forceful choral theme from Elfman that gains in stature as the film progresses. It ended up being a billion-dollar grossing movie and led to Elfman being nominated for a British Film Award, a Golden Globe and even a Grammy. He went on to compose the score for 2016 sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass, albeit without Burton at the helm.

Little wonder Disney entrusted Dumbo's score to Elfman. The original 1941 animation has a rich musical legacy, most famously with the heart-rending mother/infant separation song 'Baby Mine' (heard as a haunting cover version in the film's trailer), so Elfman has a lot to live up to, not to mention a lot of material to draw upon.

Danny Elfman is a master of the fantasy genre

If you hadn't guessed it from his regular team-ups with Tim Burton, Danny Elfman has got the musical ins and outs of the fantasy genre pegged. We've already mentioned Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland as some of his most significant fantasy contributions, but that only scratches the surface.

He has plenty more smash-hit fantasy films to his name. His CV also boasts the likes of Burton's nightmarish Sleepy Hollow, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Spider-Man 1 and 2, Goosebumps and, most recently, the 2018 version of The Grinch, and those are just a few of the great fantasy films he has been a part of.

is a classic fantasy/fairy tale story and music is a huge part of bringing such worlds to life. Elfman has successfully augmented many directors' visions with brilliantly composed pieces over the years, and his music is set to transform Dumbo into an emotive and transporting experience.

The movie is released in Cineworld on 29th March, so tweet us @Cineworld if you think it will be another Burton/Elfman masterpiece.

Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.