Danny Elfman: Grand Finale (from Edward Scissorhands)
Danny Elfman was born in LA in 1953, and has had an incredibly successful career in the music industry. Elfman is best-known for his collaboratory work with director, Tim Burton. He has produced film scores with Burton for films such as: Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes. Elfman is also the composer behind the iconic opening music for The Simpsons. His score for Edward Scissorhands received a Grammy nomination for “Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture” as well as a nomination for a Saturn award for “Best Music.”
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Edward Scissorhands released in 1990, and is one of Tim Burton’s most-loved films. It’s a fantasy film about a young man named Edward who was created by an old inventor, and he is built with scissors for hands. Through the trials and tribulations within the film, the last few scenes are perhaps the most poignant of the film. It comes to light at the end that the whole film is a story that is being told by an old woman to a young child. The woman reveals that she is Kim – the young woman in the film – and that she never saw Edward again after the final scenes of the story.
She still believes that Edward is out there and alive because of the winter ‘snow’ that Edward created by carving ice sculptures. The old woman remarks ‘Sometimes you can still catch me in it’.
The Grand Finale starts with an ominous harp pluck, which is then joined by upper strings. A celeste then starts playing a twee music-box-like melody (which represents a music box within the film). A female choir enter with hums and ‘oo’s’ which is doubled with the flute. The sparse string accompaniment underneath makes this piece incredibly haunting to begin with. There is a lot of dissonance at times within the voices, which again creates that fantastical atmosphere.
The main melody comes in with the voices and then the whole ensemble. The melody is passed around different instruments such as the oboe, flute and violin. The climax then begins, and the melody has grown into glorious fruition. The violins play fast cells in their upper register, with the female voices singing above like angels (to represent the angel that Edward carves out of ice for Kim). The whirling and swirling of the orchestra depict the way that Kim twirls in the ‘snow’ and it also represents how she feels.
The ensemble comes down and the voices finish the piece off with haunting ‘oo’s’ until a delicate end. The Grand Finale is an incredibly nostalgic piece of orchestral writing, that oozes romanticism, lusciousness and rich textures. The Grand Finale is indeed the climax of love that Kim begins to feel towards Edward.
This blog is dedicated to Paula Burns.
Ⓒ Alex Burns