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Comments about the soundtrack for Sleepy Hollow (Danny Elfman)

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Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
• Posted by: John Dunham   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Wednesday, May 28, 2008, at 7:44 p.m.
• IP Address:

(The following donated review by John Dunham was moved by Filmtracks to this comment section in May, 2008)

Sleepy Hollow: (Danny Elfman) When I first heard Danny Elfman was composing the score for this film, I thought the material would be the perfect opportunity for him to excel at what he does best. Nor was I disappointed. Sleepy Hollow is truly Elfman's best work in years. Harkening back to scores such as Batman, Sommersby, and Dolores Claiborne, it manages to mix Elfman's older, gothic, style with more modern horror elements, and, of course, massive chorus. The result is a score that works beautifully, both in the film and on CD.

The Introduction and Main Titles contain the main theme and the horseman motif. But while Elfman uses them often, "Sleepy Hollow" does not rely on themes to make an impression. Instead, Elfman uses the choir, violins, and organ to give the score a malevolent, yet marveling quality. This is best showcased in track 8, "Into the woods/The witch." The track is creepy, yet whimsical, offering hints of innocence while maintaining the atmosphere of impending danger. Tracks 3, 6, 7, and 9 do this to a lesser extent with choral performances of the main theme to underscore Ichabod's childhood remembrances. While Christian Clemmensen felt that the wonder of this score abated after the first half, I believe the bombastic finale is entirely appropriate, and the ethereal qualities can still be heard in tracks 11, 14, and, to a degree, 15, 18, and 19.

The action music itself is not as compelling as the rest of the score, but is still quite enjoyable. While "The Church Battle," "The Chase," and "The Final Confrontation" are nice, I think the best action music of the score occurs in "The Church Battle," and "The Tree Of Death." In these tracks, it is mixed in moderation with more quiet, tense music, and I find that gives it more appeal. Also, I particularly like the way the strings at the beginning of "The Church Battle" resemble a horse whinnying, if only for a few seconds. One action track I wish had been included, however, is "The Duel." Those of you who've seen the movie know the scene I'm referring to; Ichabod, one of the villagers, and the horseman are involved in a spectacular three-way battle. Overall, this is a great score. If you're a fan of Elfman's gothic works, pick it up immediately. If not, you still should give it a listen. *****

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