Friday, June 7, 2013

The Extended Addam's Family: Tim Burton

If you do not love him for his films, please, love him for his hair.
Tim Burton is best known as the creator of such darkly whimsical films as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and Sweeney Todd. His distinctive claymation style typically features characters who are caricature-ized and reflect gothy aesthetics: pale skin, sunken eyes, and brightly colored hair. Tim Burton is also a writer and an artist, and he surrounds himself with other people who have definitely earned their gothtastic stamps of aproval; Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman.
Burton began shooting amateur films from a very young age in the backyard of his California home using crude stop motion techniques and rarely recording sound. During high school he was very introspective and not a particularly good student, although he applied himself to his art and sought inspiration from the works of Edgar Allan Poe and in films like Godzilla. Upon graduation, Burton went to CalArts to study character animation, releasing a film called Stalk of the Celery Monster which caught the attention of the Disney animation department. Disney offered him an internship with their animators, and he worked as a storyboard and concept artist on The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and Tron. However, it soon became apparent that Burton's vision for animated films clashed with Disney concepts (to say the least). Not to be deterred by negative criticism, Burton began shooting independent projects, and released his short film Vincent in 1982 at a Chicago film festival.
Shortly later, Burton released his second live action film Frakenweenie in 1984 (the first was his version of Hansel and Gretel which was an anime that finished in a Kung-Fu fight between Hansel, Gretel and the Witch). He was promptly fired from Disney, who deemed the film (which primarily revolves around a young boy trying to resurrect his dog after it gets run over by a car) too scary for children to see. Frankenweenie would lead to Burton's next successful film opportunity when it caught the eye of Paul Reubens, who approached Burton with the idea for him to re-imagine Reuben's popular character Pee Wee Herman. Pee Wee's Big Adventure was released in 1985 and was the first of Burton's projects to feature Danny Elfman, of the eccentric somewhat underground band Oingo Boingo. Since Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Danny Elfman has written the score for every one of Burton's films except Ed Wood and Sweeny Todd. In 1990, Burton released his first film featuring Johnny Depp: Edward Scissorhands
The film was largely autobiographical, reflecting Burton's view of himself as an outcast, in his own words: "I've always been misinterpreted. I could dress in a clown costume and laugh with all the happy people, but they'd still say I'm a dark personality." Edward Scissorhands has since been turned into a ballet (which I really want to see). Johnny Depp has since starred in almost every Tim Burton film (so many in fact, that if you type "Tim Burton Films Without Johnny Depp" in a google search bar, it will bounce back with a list of recommended search terms along the lines of "Did You Mean Tim Burton Films With Johnny Depp?"). The two are so fond of each other that Johnny Depp once said: "I would do anything Tim wanted me to. You know, if he said 'have sex with an aardvark', I would do it." 

The Nightmare Before Christmas came out around the same time as Edward Scissorhands in 1993. It was originally a Disney product, based on a poem Tim Burton wrote, and although he produced and worked closely with the stop motion crew, he was unable to direct it due to time constraints as he was also working on Batman
Nightmare Before Christmas has become something of a gothy initiation, set in a town were it is eternally Halloween (certainly a secretly harbored dream of many goths) and complete with catchy songs that get very stuck in the brain (I once saw a poster with the word "Brik-a-brack" on it, and had Jack's Christmas Song stuck in my head for hours) and all sorts of monsters. It was Burton's first film featuring his unique claymation that also reflected his preference for darker story lines and characters. Burton's soon to become trademark style of creepy claymation was released once again in 2005 in the form of Corpse Bride.
Having previously worked with Helena Bonham Carter, (he met her during the filming of Planet of the Apes  in 2001 and they were engaged in 2002 much to the dismay of Burton's previous wife Lisa Marie, who retaliated against his leaving by holding an auction of Burton's personal items which had been left behind in her house) Tim Buton set out to create Corpse Bride especially for her. Ms. Carter voices Emilie, the beautiful, enchanting and undead bride around which the story revolves.

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