The Warner Bros. Pictures’ Justice League premiered two days ago, on November 13th at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. Danny Elfman arrived at the premiere with his daughter Mali and son Oliver.
While his visit to Germany two weeks ago, Danny Elfman was interviewed by Simon Born. The short conversation was published here. We translated it for you into English.
A short conversation with film composer Danny Elfman about heritage of film music, his work on Justice League and the Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award.
Batman Returns was the first movie where I consciously paid attention to the music and noted the name of the composer – Danny Elfman. What film was your introduction to the world of film music?
I remember very well. I was eleven or twelve years old, the film’s name was The Day the Earth Stood Still and the composer was Bernard Herrmann. From this moment on I began paying attention to the music in the film. Every time I read the name Bernard Herrmann in the opening credits, I was very excited.
Your compositions continue the tradition of symphonic film music – in your own way. For films such as Batman you wrote memorable musical themes in the style of Wagner. In recent years, however, the film music has changed considerably. Is there still a need for great melodies in Hollywood?
Yes – and no. It depends on who produces the films. For certain people it is no longer important. This is somehow sad. Many films have no longer recognizable and connecting themes. However, there are others who are trying to do just that. I recently sat down with the directors of DC Comics for Justice League. They talked a lot with me about continuing this tradition. In the score I have a moment where I quote the Superman theme of John Williams, which gave me great pleasure.
Wow! And the producers agreed?
They wanted me to do it. They liked the idea that I kept this part of their legacy alive and I was, of course, very glad to do so. It made me happy that someone asked me to use some of Williams’ music at this point. It is a wonderful theme with a great melody. Of course, they also encouraged me to use something of my own Batman theme which they also see as part of their heritage. They were very happy with it. For them these musical connections were a kind of continuation. So it really depends on who produces and where it comes from.
Meanwhile, your music is played in concert halls. Hollywood in Vienna honors your 35-year-old work with the Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award. How does it feel to be a part of the tradition?
It is a great honor. Max Steiner created the whole world of film music and music for the fantastic movie King Kong in 1933. The film score still stands today as a great model what and how to make it. It still amazes me how Steiner came to take his classical music education and apply it to the film. It is so much for me. It all started right there in 1933.
What is so special about King Kong?
King Kong was the film score that fired like a cannon this kind of composing works into the world. A narrative film music that carries the film from beginning to end and is synchronized with the picture. This has not happened before. Everything started with Steiner. To get the Max Steiner Award is therefore a very great honor for me.
Congratulations and thank you for the conversation!
Hollywood in Vienna is a good occasion to discuss with Danny Elfman his work. Melinda Newman from Billboard interviewed the composer and asked him about the person of Max Steiner, scoring Justice League and working with Gus van Sant on Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. To read the article click here.
A bit late: before leaving for Prague, Danny Elfman was interviewed by Tim Greiving in his studio in LA. They talked about Danny’s beginnings as a musician, who inspires him, his attitude for criticism and also about the violin concerto. Listen to this interview here.
In recent Hollywood Reporter article Danny talks why he works on low budget projects for just $1. The Hollywood Reporter also mentions the Rabbit and Rogue competition at this year’s L.A. Film Festival.
Read the article here
We all already know that Danny Elfman was chosen to compose the theme for Dark Universe logo. On the site of Universal Monsters Universe you can read Elfman’s comment about his little contribution for the Dark Universe. Click here.