Musings About Music In Film

Big Eyes

By Charlie Brigden bigeyes

Title: Big Eyes

Composer: Danny Elfman

The Film: Tim Burton drops the monster fetish for a biography of American artist Margaret Keane, who painted tons of pictures which were subsequently credited to husband Walter. What an ass.

The Score: Of course, with Big Eyes being a Burton joint Danny Elfman is aboard for the ride, and this time he's brought his marimbas. It's a surprisingly low-key effort by Mr Bridget Fonda, at least if you've never heard anything of his outside of Batman and Edward Scissorhands. But I digress, it's a fine score with some lovely melodies using the aforementioned marimba and piano. It's very short - it's worth mentioning that the full album is half songs and half score; I only purchased the score bit - but it makes for a good listen.

There's an interesting use of tone, where it starts very brightly with the marimba front and centre before being joined by guitar and a lovely piano melody, and it moves slowly to a more serious air, becoming more intense and purposeful until we get into proper thriller territory. And at that crucial point, it quickly fades back to a more upbeat facade.

Distinguishing Features: 'Walter'. This is the moment when the score turns on its head, allowing Elfman to indulge his Herrmannistic tendencies to the hilt, and the centerpiece of the album. Maybe it's because it's so different from the rest of the score - albeit still built up to - but it's mysterious, powerful, and feels really dangerous to the point where it's scary.

Final Thoughts: Big Eyes will be looked upon as a lesser entry in Danny Elfman's canon but that's the wrong way to go. Like the earlier Elfman-Burton collaboration Big Fish, it's a fine little score that may not blow roofs off, but deserves the small part of your day you'll need to devote yourself to it.

Big Eyes is out now from Interscope Records