Martin on Burton
Today, one of our producers, Tim Martin gives his insight on the style of director Tim Burton.
With a unique style totally his own and a vast fan base in love with his work, no one has been able to carve their individual vision into film quite like director Tim Burton. Using his strange drawings as a springboard, Burton crafts a cocktail of fantasy that many viewers can’t help but get lost in. His unique style of filmmaking has even lead to a coining of the term “Burtonesque,” a word used to describe the all things connected to the world of Tim Burton.
Growing up in Burbank, California Burton often felt alienated from the cultural norm of suburbia. Further isolated by his parents, who boarded up his bedroom windows so that he couldn’t see the outside, he sought solace and understanding in classic monster films such as Frankenstein and Dracula. He identified with the monsters of these films who were rejected by society because of their differences. It is this idea of the outcast perceived as a monster that has become one of the strongest recurring themes in Burton’s films, most evident in his semi-autobiographical film, Edward Scissorhands.
Edward Scissorhands, released in in 1990, both written and directed by Burton, was the first film over which he had major creative control. Telling the story of a strange boy rejected by suburban society because of his freakish appearance, it isn’t difficult to see the parallel to Bruton’s own life. With his unusual, dark, and whimsical style, Burton created a compelling love story while shedding light into his own difficult childhood. Not only was it a deeply personal film for him, it was also his first time working with actor Johnny Depp.
From their very first meeting before signing onto the project, Depp and Burton found in each other kindred spirits. Both introverted and quiet, both creative geniuses, and both unhappy with the overrated stardom and flair of Hollywood. Now, with Depp starring in over eight Burton films in the last 25 years, the two men have become quite the dynamic duo. They instantly clicked and share a like-minded vision for the pieces they do together. In their interviews and books they talk often of how they have become good friends over the years and have nothing but respect for each other. Depp is even godfather to Burton’s only son, Billy.
Over the years Burton has taken a lot of flack for his vision. He is criticized for being dark and scary and inappropriate for children, while primarily targeting them as his intended audience. In reality, he is a dedicated family man who loves children and makes a lot of his films with a younger audience in mind. Being a father himself, he has a firsthand perspective on how to make children laugh. He has two children with his longtime partner, award winning actress Helena Bonham Carter and often uses them as a sounding board for his new ideas. With films like Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Alice in Wonderland, he takes the audience on a journey filled with wonder and laughter. Using the influence of films that he himself grew up loving, he creates a familiar yet strange experience for his viewers by putting his own spin on often well-known stories and themes.
With a mind full of limitless possibilities and a dedication to his family as strong as his dedication to his art, Burton has my utmost respect. He’s taken so many stories that I’ve loved growing up and put a fantastic new twist on them, producing many things that are both fresh and spectacular. He may be a little quirky, but to ask him to be anything different would be to take away that very thing that makes him so brilliant.
Tim Burton gets a top peg on my list of favorite directors because, whether you like his style or not, you can’t ignore his success. He is able to create whole worlds in his head and transfer them to the screen in such a breathtaking way. Whenever life gets to me or I need to escape, the worlds of Tim Burton provide a fantastical place to run to. He has inspired me to become a filmmaker, and I believe his works will continue to inspire others for years to come.