In this week’s class, Tim Burton was mentioned in relation to filmmakers who are less concerned with facts than with presenting their own perspective on reality.
The words “original stylistic palette” and “fingerprint” were used by Emma, and I think they are a perfect representation of the style and individual aesthetic that Tim Burton brings to all of his films. This ties back in with what I focused on in an earlier blog entry about signature style in filmmaking - a viewer can always tell when they are watching a Tim Burton film.
I find his artistic vision to be astounding, but perhaps what I find more incredible is his ability to execute this vision to the degree which he does, without it feeling pretentious. I understand that this is also a matter of personal taste and preference, as many people find his work to be overdone, too involved, or even a little self-referential, however I am a big fan and will defend his works in a forum that encourages long rants about my opinion - the purpose of a blog, correct?
Tim Burton played a huge role in influencing me to start to dabble in filmmaking - not that he spoke to me personally, although I wish he had - as I found his voice to be so prolific in modern cinema, and yet so left of field in the same breath. I admired how his films seemed to transcend the divisions between conventional, mainstream film and arthouse filmmaking, to be able to be called a true example of how this crossover can be mastered.
When his exhibit came to ACMI last year I went along (I also saw the Dennis Hopper exhibit which was incredible), and it completely blew my mind. It was as though now that I had seen the exhibit, I could participate in his films on a whole new level, and seeing his works progress from the initial sketches and notes, to the finished product was fantastic. This was especially incredible for an aspiring filmmaker such as myself, as it allowed me to view his vision as it came full circle. It gave these finished products a third dimension, and gave me a greater appreciation of the artistic process itself.
Tim Burton’s pre-production sketches of Edward Scissorhands and the Queen of Hearts.
I think what I admire most about Tim Burton as a filmmaker, and indeed as an artist, is his fearless pursuit of originality. The first Tim Burton film that I remember seeing was Edward Scissorhands, and it completely changed my perspective on filmmaking, characterisation, sets, costuming, lighting, everything you could think of, and as clichéd as it sounds, really opened my eyes to a perspective that had been missing from my diet of blockbusters and teen movies. Especially those involving, though not limited to, overcoming the adversity of getting the most popular guy in school to ask you to the prom, and it working out okay in the end due to a particularly upbeat montage involving you getting a new makeover, and he did ask you in the end because it turned out you are actually a supermodel underneath all the daggy hair and glasses and didn’t look like a foot after all. Or something.
The beautiful world Tim Burton created within “Edward Scissorhands”
Anyway. Edward Scissorhands was one of the most beautiful depictions of love in cinema that I had seen up to that point in my life ( I was probably about 12, and before that I’m pretty sure all I had to go on was Titanic), whilst remaining fiercely original in it’s portrayal. From that point forward I was hooked.
I know I’m raving on here but I did just want to mention one more thing, and that is the use of a muse. For Tim Burton, this muse has been Johnny Depp, and to a lesser extent his wife Helena Bonham Carter, but focusing on Johnny Depp, their progression together in breaking new ground and writing new conventions for cinema has been incredible. Their work informs each other, performance enhancing performance, and something greater is born. Whilst what can be seen as an almost obsessive desire for collaboration has been contentious, with many cinema-goers exhibiting a “been there, seen that” attitude, I believe that the end product is always remarkable, and better for the collaboration. It is for this sake that I hope that their desire to work together never fades. I don’t believe that either of them would be at this point in their careers if it weren’t for each other.
Tim Burton working with Johnny Depp on the set of Sweeney Todd, and with wife Helena Bonham Carter at the French premiere of Alice in Wonderland, which she also starred in alongside Johnny Depp.
So in closing, as film is a truly visual medium, and Tim Burton is the master of exploiting this visual world - he will remain, to me at least, as one of the true masters of his craft.