It’s hard to believe that it’s been 17 years since Danny Elfman wrote his score for Good Will Hunting. Let’s go back to the world of 1996, for a moment — a world where Elfman had yet to secure a single Oscar nomination (if those things matter to you), despite writing some of the most stunning film music of the period (Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas - all ignored by the Music Branch of the Academy.)
But when it rains, it pours, and Elfman not only snagged his first nomination, but his second. In one fell swoop, Danny was welcomed into the club for Oscar-nominated film composers. For fans who clamoured for Elfman to receive his due critical approval, it felt pretty damned good. Those first two nominations came for Good Will Hunting, in the best Dramatic Score category, and Men In Black for the now defunct Comedy Score category. Ironically, his chances of winning were better for the winking retro-funk of Men In Black, compared to the smaller-scale drama of Good Will Hunting, nominated in the same category as the unbeatable behemoth known as Titanic (a film that swept away the Dramatic Score award.) While Men In Black - and for that matter most of Elfman’s most popular scores - would receive a commercial soundtrack album, his work for Good Will Hunting was represented by two cues on the film’s soundtrack, coupled with Elliott Smith's original songs. The time rest of the score would only be available via a For Your Consideration disc (what could be considered part of the reason Elfman was nominated in the first place.) In the days before digital downloads from studio PR sites, your chances of acquiring such a rare album usually meant trolling auctions on eBay, crashing in at the last second and outbidding some unsuspecting poor sap. It seemed like Good Will Hunting might be relegated to the "respected" pile Elfman canon — a score good enough for Oscar consideration, but not one likely to receive a proper release. Fast-forward 17 years later, however, and an independent soundtrack label based in France has righted that wrong, and reminded us that Good Will Hunting deserves consideration, and most importantly, fills a significant hole on the shelves of serious Elfman collectors everywhere.
The Music Box Records release of Good Will Hunting features several new insights into the score via unreleased tracks (not included on the promo disc). Presented in complete form (in this case just around 45 minutes), Good Will Hunting marked a shift in Danny Elfman’s dramatic scoring. It was around this time in the late '90s that he scored a handful of dramas in a new, pared down approach - heavy on textures and instrumentation outside the standard orchestral sound. While dramatic scores like Sommersby and Black Beauty would represent the composer’s lush, melodic sound in the early 1990s, Good Will Hunting, A Civil Action and A Simple Plan would mark a significant style departure.
Music Box Records presents Elfman's score flawlessly here, perfectly pairedwith Elliott Smith's melancholy songs (including one sweetened with orchestral arrangements by Danny Elfman.) Despite the long wait, Good Will Hunting is finally a part of your Elfman discography. With just 1500 copies in existence, you better not wait another 17 years to order your copy.
| All original text, original artwork © Ryan Keaveney & Klaatu Media and cannot be copied without written consent. All other materials are © by original authors / artists / labels and are presented here for critique, educational and promotional purposes only. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Discussion Board. Additional questions or comments can be emailed to Ryan Keaveney.