Tim Burton admits that he doesn’t quite understand either audiences, or critics. Some of his most critically acclaimed films, he says, have failed to shine at the box office, while many of his most panned works, have brought in big bucks across the globe.
It is wrong, one would argue, to approach this visionary director from a commercial perspective. For fans of works like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie and the inimitably beautiful Edward Scissorhands, every time Tim Burton releases a new film, it’s Christmas!
Burton does not see his work as dark or particularly alternative, yet for some reason his creativity has struck a chord with those who celebrate all things Gothic – fashion, music, art… the Director is, without a doubt, enamoured by death, something he attributes to having growing up in Los Angeles, where his childhood was marked by his attraction for two things: monster films and the Mexican culture.
He explains his fascination with the latter: “In Mexico, you have events like Day of the Dead and other cultural celebrations that take a lighter, almost humorous side to death. I can relate to how this and similar cultures accept death as part of life.” One can, indeed, perceive both humour and deep sentimentality in films like Frankenweenie, the amazing stop motion film based on a short film Burton made during his brief stint as a young animator at Disney.
There is something indescribably sad about an essentially solitary little boy losing his best friend (his dog, Sparky), yet plenty that is comical about pets of all sorts coming back to life, with monstrous results…
Tim Burton often says he doesn’t understand why some audiences would see his films as ‘scary’; The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland and Ed Wood are incredibly funny and bear a slightly childish touch thanks to the presence of actors like Johnny Depp.
Burton is enamoured by actors who portray emotions with their facial expressions… few have managed to seize the hearts of audiences around the world with a grip quite as firm as Johnny Depp’s in Edward Scissorhands.
Loneliness, segregation, guilt, are qualities that also abound in Burton’s films, as is the idea that those who are truly innocent, good, and beautiful, are ostracised and eliminated by a rather cruel society. Human beings are often ignorant with disastrous results – Burton cites Frankenstein as an ideal example of an innocent creature who is driven to destruction simply because he is different…
Words Marisa Cutillas