Musings About Music In Film

2015 Preview: Fifty Shades of Grey

By Charlie Brigden 50shades

Composer: Danny Elfman Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson Stars: Jamie Dornan Release Date: February 14th

Fifty Shades Of Grey is dangerous, daring stuff. At least that's what the creators would have you believe. Going by the trailer, it's like Bondage For Dummies via an advert for Dior perfume. Glossy. Clean. Perfect. White middle-class. Hooray for Bridget Jones finally getting her kink on.

Into this world of silk ties and the most non-threatening dom you'll ever see comes a certain Danny Elfman. An interesting choice to be sure. Of course, most people identify Elfman as the life partner of Tim Burton, having scored the majority of his films, most of which lean towards fantasy - and not the erotic kind (well, maybe Batman Returns). This is Elfman's public persona, someone who is used to scoring crimefighters, men with scissors for hands, and a whole host of mythical creatures from Lewis Carroll's Wonderland.

Which may beg the question, "What is Danny Elfman doing here?" However, to you and me, this is maybe not a surprise given that Elfman has done a lot more than just be Tim Burton's musical soul. Recently he's provided music for such diverse works as the Matt Damon drama Promised Land and the Errol Morris documentary The Unknown Known, while providing a quite different score for Burton's Big Eyes. The latter may be a surprise to some expecting the trademark Elfman flair, instead being a small work dominated by piano, guitar, and the occasional marimba.

What is interesting about this project is Elfman's innate ability to get inside his characters' heads, especially those who are, how shall I say, emotionally intense. The title character from Edward Scissorhands is the obvious one, with his sadness and need to love encapsulated in the big and tragic fairytale embellishments that gave the score the iconic status it has now. Then there's Selina Kyle, who memorably took umbrage to her apartment after being reanimated by cats, all to the swirling madness of Elfman's score.

And then there's another strange couple who fall in love against odds, and whose longing is not only perfectly scored, but one of which is voiced by Elfman himself: Jack Skellington and Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

But Elfman is a good enough composer to be able to take this kind of thing in his stride. It's a good thing for the film, to have someone of his ability attached, and also for him, as it's another audience who'll be introduced to his music. I'm actually pretty excited of what may come from this, and it'll be fascinating to see just how he'll get into the heads of Christian and Anastasia. I imagine he'll start by ordering his shopping from Ocado.

I'll leave you with a taste of what could be to come if Elfman decides to bring his musical-musical shoes with him...

"Boys and girls of every age Wouldn't you like to see something strange? Come with us and you will frown At our city of Bondage-town This is Bondage-Town, This is Bondage-Town Anastasia screams in the dead of night ... What's this? What's this? There's latex everywhere. What's this? There's white stuff everywhere. I can't believe my eyes I must be dreaming Wake up Ana this isn't fair, What's this? There are people throwing orgies Instead of throwing heads They're busy playing with toys And everyone is getting head!"

Apologies to Danny Elfman and, well, everyone.