Musings About Music In Film

Fifty Shades of Grey

By Karol Krok 2014FiftyShadesUniversal

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey

Composer: Danny Elfman

The Film: An adaptation of yet another inexplicably popular book for women, Fifty Shades of Grey is basically a soft porn film that's OK to watch. But probably not as honest as under-the-counter products and containing less of what the audience expects in the first place... The reviews suggest it might have improved upon its literary original but that doesn't say much. Still, it made so much money that the sequel is inevitable.

The Score: Danny Elfman occasionally tackled various projects having nothing to do with his fantasy Tim Burton persona. And while there are numerous examples of him venturing into different musical territories over the years, not many of those scores ended up being terribly popular. Fifty Shades of Grey is yet another one of those smaller scores in which Elfman ventures into the world of sensuality and sex. Scored for a relatively small orchestra, it's definitely a low-key music.

Distinguishing Features: One of the recurring elements is Elfman's use of guitars (both electric and acoustic) and drums in addition to extensive piano solos and his own trademark rhythmic string writing (that seems to dominate in his work ever since Serenada Schizophrana). The album doesn't really pick up much excitement until 'Ana and Christian', in which all those elements are used to flesh out the main theme (that is introduced in the opening track). Gentle vocal effects create eerie atmosphere in 'Ana's Theme' and 'Clean You Up'.  'The Contract' brings back the memories of Danny's collaboration with Errol Morris in its mechanical drive. 'Going For Coffee' and 'The Art of War' both bring lighter, almost comedic, touch to the proceedings. 'Show Me' offers a mysteriousIn 'Bliss', composer makes a full use of choral ensemble in order to portray divine orgasmic state. A highlight, obviously. The final track offers explorations on thematic material and is a fitting postscript ('Variations On A Shade').

Final Thoughts: Like some other minor works in Elfman's repertoire (Big Eyes being recent example), this score offers him a chance to branch out and apply talents to yet another genre. Sadly, the score never really establishes too much of its own identity and for the majority of its running time remains... not quite as steamy as it should have been.

Fifty Shades of Grey is out now from Universal Studios/Republic Records