For Danny Elfman, The Strange Worlds Of Tim Burton Just Make Sense

July 5, 2015

Tim Burton’s shadowy tales have taken audiences from a pastel suburban paradise in Edward Scissorhands to the dark streets of Gotham City in Batman.

Accompanying Burton’s strange worlds are the mysterious and unforgettable scores by composer Danny Elfman. Over the last 30 years, the two have forged an iconic partnership.

“There was instant chemistry in terms of what we were into,” Danny Elfman says about the first time he met Tim Burton. “We had a lot of common roots … we both grew up as horror movie kids.”

Burton’s latest film, Big Eyes, marks the duo’s 16th collaboration together.

To celebrate, the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City opens Monday with Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton at Avery Fisher Hall.

The first act features music from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure — the first movie the two worked on together. While filming, Burton asked Elfman to score the film.

“I had a four-track tape player and I went and recorded a demo,” he says. “Sent them to him on a cassette. That was it.”

Burton called back a few weeks later and offered Elfman the job.

“In the beginning and over the years of working together, considering that it’s been 16 films, we’ve talked very little about them,” Elfman says. “Tim doesn’t like to analyze his films. Tim’s never been that way. And so we usually will see a film, he’ll tell me how he feels, a little bit about this character, that character, and we don’t really communicate until I have music to play.”

“I grew up feeling that I was from another planet,” Elfman says. “And I get the feeling that Tim also grew up similarly … The worlds he created didn’t seem that weird to me, it just seemed like, ‘Okay, yeah.’ “

Hear the full piece at the audio link.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit