PLANET OF THE APES
Burton's work with Danny Elfman takes "collaborative shorthand" to a new level, at least during the project's nascent stages. "I got a call from Tim's office, requesting a meeting," Elfman remembers. "I had read in the trades that he was going to direct PLANET OF THE APES, so I had a pretty good idea what he wanted to discuss. But I never heard from him."
After this cycle repeated, Elfman ran into Burton — on a plane to New York. "Finally, about half way into the flight, I turned around and asked him,
'Well, do you want to talk with me?' Tim answered: 'I'm making a movie based on "Planet of the Apes."' When I asked him what about it interested him, he thought a moment and replied, 'There's something about the way they move.' And I saw the flicker in Tim s eye, and that was it. That was the whole conversation. And that was all he needed to say.
Elfman and Burton did not speak again about the film until it was well into
production. Even then, the director communicated his thoughts about the score in a
unusual way. "Tim deals with his films on an emotional and visceral level, rather than a
specific, intellectual manner. I tend to work the same way, so that works out very well." Burton did make it clear that he wanted a thematic and melodic score. "The score
is extremely muscular and actually a little old-fashioned, in terms of its 'good vs. evil' quality," Elfman explains. But he also gives the score a powerful percussive edge. In addition to using a full orchestra, Elfman laid down seventy-six of his own percussion tracks.
For these tracks, Elfman used his own eclectic collection of percussion instruments, which he either built or collected from around the world. Miners' pans that have been smashed with hammers, Indonesian instruments, large West African xylophones, upside-down Schlitz beer cans played with tiny mallets, and huge trash cans were some of the more unusual members of Elfman's percussion library.
Elfman pulled out the percussive stops — and much of his collection — for the film's main title music. "Tim's movies are so visual and the tones are sometimes so unusual that it becomes really important to get a tone for the main titles that reflects the rest of the movie," Elfman
explains. "PLANET OF THE APES' main titles were particularly interesting for me because they called for aggressive and percussive music.
Scoring the sequence was a memorable experience for the famed musician. "It was like the equivalent of having a huge room full of fifty percussion instruments, all being banged on — but I was doing it all myself in my own little room.
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