|That memorable Danny Elfman score almost never happened.After being hired for 1989's Batman, Elfman was horrified to learn the producers wanted a pop-heavy score that'd feature the music of the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson, and George Michael. He promptly quit.
"I didn't wanna end up being just an orchestrator for someone else's tunes, which is what would've happened if I went along with that," says Elfman. "That process didn't appeal to me very much. There are plenty of people more qualified to orchestrate for a pop artist than me."
But as fate would have it, he got the call to return to London just a few weeks later.
After an inspiring set visit, Elfman wrote the majority of the score on his flight back. He was desperate to record it all before the flight crew’s landing music erased the score from his brain.
"I was hearing the whole theme in my head, the A section, B section, French horns, first strings, second strings.… I was really breaking it all down on this incredibly loud 747. Since I was sitting next to somebody, I didn't want to yell into my tape recorder. So I kept running into the restroom, which was even noisier. I guess the bathrooms were close to the engines or something," he says. "It was getting weirder and weirder, because I kept going back every 10 minutes with new ideas. Every time I came out, there were more and more concerned flight attendants asking me if everything was OK. This was 'pre-heavy terrorism,' otherwise I'm sure I would've end up in some type of handcuffs or restraints. Everyone was like, 'What the f— is this guy doing every 10 minutes?!'
For Batman Returns, he used much of his same work, building on those themes, and he has fond memories of his work with the Penguin.
"There was this great sequence of the basket flowing down the river and into the sewers. That was very close to my heart," says Elfman. "The abandoned baby. The Penguin's death at the end. As silly as it is, I loved that. The Penguins carry his body into the water, I'm a huge sucker for that kind of sentimentality."