Actually, to call Elliot Goldenthal a Sci-Fi Cult specialist is a little unfair. It seemed that the composer was heading in that direction with his earlier films, which included Alien and Batman sequels and a number of one-off science fiction films. Many of those Sci-Fi films have a decidedly dark feel, and this type of mood is one that he is frequently asked to recreate. As a good example of his film work, the music for "Interview with the Vampire" conveys the bleak loneliness of the central character mixed with a certain restlessness and an untamed primal element. The score to reinforce these feelings is full of modern classical orchestral sounds, with boy soprano voices and solo strings. On "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin" Goldenthal took over the Batman scoring duties from Danny Elfman. Although the films themselves seemed to deteriorate somewhat as the series continued, there is much to admire in Goldenthal's scores using a consistent main theme and a range of different moods and musical genres. One of his more recent genre films is "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" which is entirely computer-generated graphics. The obvious temptation might be to go for a synth-based soundtrack to match the synthetic characters on the screen, but the orchestral colours give a warm human touch which adds considerably to audience involvement in the plot.
Of course there is much more to Goldenthal than sci-fi, horror and fantasy. He has a classical training, having studied under the great Aaron Copland and John Corigliano among others. (The BBC broadcast a programme in late 2000 about Copland and Goldenthal was among those discussing the composer.) He has produced a number of concert hall works, musicals and theatrical productions, and he composed a work called "Shadow Play Scherzo" for Leonard Bernstein's 70th Birthday! Goldenthal won an oscar for his astonishing soundtrack to "Frida". Part of the astonishment arises from the seemingly major departure from the style of many of his previous films but, if anything, Goldenthal is always able to surprise and slide between genres in an instant. "Frida" is full to the brim with the authentic rhythms, instruments and mood of Mexican dance and song traditions.
A number of the more recent films scored by Goldenthal have been for his director partner Julie Taymor. Two of their earlier films were very well received - the Shakespearean adaptation Titus which successfully mixes orchestral music with jazz, and the previously mentioned oscar-winning Frida. More recently the pair have turned their attention to the romantic drama "Across the Universe" and back to Shakespeare for "The Tempest", though this latter adaption has had some mixed reviews. The couple have collaborated since the 1980s on a number of theatre productions - several stage musicals including "Liberty's Taken", "The Transposed Heads" and "The Green Bird" and more recently an opera called "Grendel". Goldenthal also demonstrated his Shakespearean credentials on a ballet version of "Othello".
Goldenthal scored a few TV movies back in the 1990s:
Here are some CD covers signed by Elliot Goldenthal. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click any thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.