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Batman Returns marked the sixth and most ambitious (until 1992) musical collaboration between Burton and Composer Danny Elfman, who shared his first foray into film scoring on Burton's own feature debut, PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985). ''I knew that it wouldn't be a rehash of the first movie.'' says Elfman. ''True, it is a sequel, but it's very different in tone. It's a lot sicker, a lot more twisted - and more Tim, for lack of a better word.''

The score proposed numerous challenges for Elfman, such as providing leitmotifs (leitmotif is a certain musical melody that is associated with a certain character and is head when this character appears in a play, usually opera) for ''not one but two new characters, who occupy more screen time than Batman. It's quite fun in that respect because the bulk of the score revolves around them. Also, it's unusual to have three main themes. Usually you only have one, maybe two, and then the secondary themes which play underneath, but here it's literaly three main themes, each one as dominant as the next.''

The result, he claims, goes far beyond it's predecessor. ''This score is much more of a theatrical onslaught than the first. BATMAN was more traditional, while this one is very over-the-top and peculiar. In fact, I didn't realize until halfway through that it's much an opera as it is a movie, almost as if you'd expect the curtains to open and close after each scene, like some weird little slideshow.''

According to Elfman, ''I'll take rough ideas and spend a few weeks refining them by looking at the key scenes for each character. Then I'll see if these scenes lend themselves to being bent in different directions. For instance, will the Penguin's theme play both sinister and bittersweet? Will the Catwoman's theme play both fun and twisted? Will it play both as a loss of innocence and as a frolic in a department store while she's destroying stuff? Once I've put the raw material through this test, I'll bring Tim in and play him a presentation of maybe half a dozen scenes where the thematic material stretches in these different directions and we'll talk through it.''

Burton adds, ''When you're dealing with material that's completely unreal and showing characters trying to have real emotions in an unreal world, it's crucial to have the audience with that emotional guidepost. It seems like the more out of reality you get, the more you tend to lose people, so the music just grounds it. It even helps tell you what the movie's about a lot of the time. It's so important and I've been very lucky with Danny because he's completely that tone now.''

Elfman on Batman Returns

On Batman Returns, I saw the potential to put in a song of Siouxsie & the Banshees that fit, but it didn't stand out from the tone of the movie. Nothing could have convinced me to attempt to find a place for a song on Sommersby."

Movieline Magazine - November 1993 by Stephen Rebello

During one of his visits to the Batman Returns set, Elfman enthusiastically joined in with the rest of the crew, who were recruited to toss a nasty salad of fruits and vegetables at Danny DeVito's Penguin for a crucial scene of the movie. "I also hurled water on the Darkman set," noted the puckish Elfman.