Danny Elfman

Alice in Wonderland

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AllMusic Review by

Besides Steven Spielberg and John Williams, few director/composers have yielded as many memorable moments as have Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. With styles that dutifully complement each other’s noted eccentricities, the pair rarely (when patrolling the magical fault line where music and visuals meet) disappoint. Such is the case with 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, a world in which the two were seemingly destined to one day inhabit. Pieces like “Proposal/Down the Hole,” “Only a Dream,“ “Blood of the Jabberwocky,” and “Alice Returns” calmly evoke the pastoral English countryside, but the majority of Elfman’s work here treats the fable as a Wagnerian epic. It’s hard not to imagine the wicked smile that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) would beam forth upon hearing Elfman’s glorious “Alice’s Theme,” a melodically charged love letter to the girl who became an unwilling euphemism for lost souls, madness, and drug culture. Here, the composer treats poor Alice as an anti-hero, regaling her from afar with a children’s choir and pleading “It’s such a long, long way to fall Alice, Alice, oh Alice.” It’s one of his most memorable themes since Edward Scissorhands, and a fine return to the dark, gothic, orchestral pop of Nightmare Before Christmas.

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