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Danny Elfman's Music For A Darkened People: Dead Presidents

"I feel like half of the biggest directors don't even realize that sound is half the movie. It has to be. There's dialogue, sound effects, music and sound design on top of it. I think more established directors don't pay too much attention to the details, they shove it off to some company to do it. They think about sound as far as dialogue and little details. But you can take it so much beyond that." DEAD PRESIDENTS, co-director Albert Hughes.

After the huge critical and financial success of The Hughes Brothers' (Albert and Allen) debut feature MENACE TO SOCIETY (the film cost $3 million to make and earned over $30 million at the box office) it seemed unlikely that the brothers might ever team up with the likes of a Hollywood composer with their reliance on hip hop and rap tunes throughout their film. Yet for their sophomore effort, the bigger budgeted Vietnam/Heist film DEAD PRESIDENTS, the young directors turned to Danny Elfman to write a score that would fill in dramatic gaps in between period songs.

The results were dramatic as DEAD PRESIDENTS marked a huge evolution in Danny Elfman's compositional style. The samefabric was there, but this time the original orchestral sound was replaced by a smaller, darker, edgier and urban feel. Instead of huge brass and string sections, DEAD PRESIDENTS uses a smaller string section with sampled sounds and synths. Percussion, now a big staple in Elfman film music made it's presence felt, with varied samples, ethnic drums, clangs, "cukoo" clocks and an assortment of exotic sounds.

Like the brassy and bombastic Elfman sound from the early '90's that started with BATMAN, DEAD PRESIDENTS has re-defined Elfman's sound for the later half of the decade. It'sinfluence can be found in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, THE FRIGHTENERS and MEN IN BLACK.

DEAD PRESIDENTS has helped to cement the belief that Danny Elfman's versatility and styles can mesh and mold with almost any thematic material. Hopefully the personal success he has achieved with this score will allow for future collaborations with the Hughes Brothers.


Music: Danny Elfman
Orchestrations: Steve Bartek
Conducting: Danny Elfman
Produced By: Danny Elfman
Label: Danny Elfman's Music For A Darkened Theater Voume Two MCAD2-11550

1. Main Titles (Film version) (4:08)*
2. "I'll always wait for you" (0:32)**
3. Pinned Down (1:31)**
4. "Souveniers" (3:07)**
5. Letters Home/Casualty (9:27)*
6. Daughter (1:23)
7. Meat Market Nightmare (0:26)**
8. The Plan (2:38)**
9. The Job Backfires (10:35)**
10. End Titles (Dead Presidents Theme Reprise) (4:08)**

**(Unreleased to CD)
* (Slightly abridged to Music for a Darkened Theater Volume Two)
(Tracks on MFADT2 labeled as follows: "Main Titles"/"Daughter"/ "Montage"/"Nam"/"Montage")

DEAD PRESIDENTS Actual Film Score Length: 37:05

Some tracks have been renamed to correct their order of appearance. Most cues on MFDAT2 are actually mini-suites comprised of several cues. This is a fair amount of music (the total includes the theme reprisal for the end titles) for a film laden with period songs. Remember, don't get the "soundtrack" mixed up with the score. The "soundtrack" album only contains the The Dead Presidents Theme. The score also marked the first time Danny Elfman has conducted one of his works.

Special Thanks to FlippyFrog for the track times from Dead Presidents.

Mars Attacks! Complete Score | Complete Scrooged Score


[This page updated: 06/10/2001]
All original text 2001, original artwork Ryan Keaveney & Klaatu Media 2001.
All other materials are by original authors / artists / labels and are
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Questions or comments can be emailed to Ryan Keaveney.

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