Tim Burton is turning 60 tomorrow and for the occasion, all of his movies are showing today and tomorrow on tv. From Nightmare Before Christmas and Ed Wood to Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. Yeepy!
So this weekend I get to recollect on my favorite Burton movies.
Timothy Walter Burton was born 60 years ago today (August 25th, 1958) in Burbank, California. His brilliant movie career began in his teens when he was making soundless short films in his backyard using low-budget stop-motion technique.
The oldest film Burton ever made is The Island of Doctor Agor a brilliant adaptation to H. G. Wells The Island of Doctor Moreau. Burton was only 13 when he created the film using a Super 8 mm camera. Later on, Burton created the Stalk of the celery monster while a student at CalArts.
The 80’s were a breakthrough for the acclaimed director for his shorts attracted the attention of no other than Walt Disney Production’s animation division. His apprenticeship days began and he worked as an animator and a storyboard artist.
The short film Vincent was brought to life in 1982, narrated by the ringmaster himself, Vincent Price. The -minute film is based on Burton’s own written poem telling the story of a melancholy young boy who dreams that he is his hero, Vincent Price.
Skipping to 1988 when Burton directs his cult supernatural-horror-comedy Beetlejuice starring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious bio-exorcist ghost, Winona Ryder as the discouraged Lydia Deetz, and Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis as the recently deceased couple, the Maitlands.
Next one up is Batman (1989), also starring Michael Keaton as the crime-fighting superhero, and Jack Nicholson as the infamous and unforgettable anti-hero, The Joker. Burton’s career is now taking off. After impressing the studios with his former, Burton collects a bigger production budget for Batman.
1990’s Edward Scissorhands headlines Burton’s all-time collaborator and friend Johnny Depp as the desolated and scissor-bladed Edward. For the role of Kim Boggs, Edward’s love interest, Burton reunites with Winona Ryder, who’s also dating Depp at the time. Depp’s and Ryder’s hot love affair helped to reinforce the movie’s romantic legacy, but alas, it came to an end shortly after. Although a Gothic fantasy, Edward Scissorhands is an endearing story of ‘the different’, the outsider, Edward, who’s introduced to candy-colored idealized suburbia. The story is said to portray Burton’s own lonely and exciting childhood in the normal hometown of Burbank, CA, turning to his monsters and graveyards which shaped his twisted cinematic visions.
After Batman’s success, Tim Burton directs the sequel, Batman Returns, again starring Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer as the fam-fatal Catwoman, Denny De-Vito as the gruesome Penguin, and Christopher Walken as the corrupt corporate tycoon Max Shrek. The quirky and dark exposure of Burton’s Batmans guaranteed them an everlasting grandeur. His version of Gotham is probably my favorite.
After Batman Returns come deliciously ghoulish others like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, Ed Wood, Batman Forever, Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and so on and so forth. And I’ve seen them all just like the glued-to-the-tv fan that I strive to be. But Tim Burton has his fair share of ups and downs. For me, Alice in Wonderland was merely satisfactory and didn’t deliver as I expected, although the costume design and visual style exceeded. Same goes for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Big Fish was a Depp-free masterpiece.
I found this interesting piece in Gizmodo which depicts certain motifs in every Burton movie, apart from Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman’s musical scores, and dark-eyed pale makeup. The same actors tend to pop up now and then – Helena Bonham-Carter, Christopher Lee, Jeffrey Jones, Winona Ryder, Christopher Walken and his current passion, Eva Green. The odd outsider – Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Lydia Deetz, Mad Hatter, Ed Wood, Willy Wonka, The giant in Big Fish. The Pudgy Weasel – Otho in Beetlejuice, Beadle in Sweeney Todd, Tweedledee / Tweedledum in Alice in Wonderland, Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finis Everglot in The Corpse Bride, and The Penguin in Batman Returns. The ravishing blonde – Kim Boggs, Sandra Bloom, Katrina Van Tassel, Martian Girl, Vicki Vale, Selina Kyle, The White Queen and Alice, of course.
So, yeah… Tim Burton is turning 60 today. Forever a freak that will hopefully continue his tried-and-true methods and monstrosity inhabited movies.