It hit me today that I have yet to pay tribute to my favorite movie director, illustrator and storyteller, Tim Burton. That was unbelievably rude of me. If you’ve only experienced his movies, (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, etc.) then I highly suggest you investigate other avenues of his work. Before you dive into your research, allow me to give you a summarized version of the fantastic journey in which you are about to embark.
According to his bio at IMDB, the California native began his career with a fellowship from Disney. He worked on mainstream animation (The Fox and the Hound) but was also granted the freedom to pursue his own ideas, thus his 6-minute film, Vincent. This short production is full of life and sadness with a powerful message.
I’m not philosopher, but every time I watch a Tim Burton movie, I’m left with lingering thoughts about relationships, time and meaning. If you let them, the films leave us with so much to think about. The dialogue, characters and cinematography are only the obvious things. His use or lack of color and what that means to the story is always fascinating… and I will admit that when I come to these realizations on my own, I feel smart. For example, one of my favorite claymation films is Corpse Bride because the living world is dark and lonely while the deceased world is colorful and lively. This is parallel to El Dia de Los Muertos within my own culture and I appreciate that. The truth behind the visual effects is scary, but the storytelling is playful. Is it ironic? Yea, I think so. See for yourself below.
His vision is original, relatable and genius. The stories are not too far removed from what we experience every day. Some of his films are dark and creepy (Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) while others are bright and odd (Mars Attacks! and Beetlejuice), some are revisions of classics (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland) while others are hypnotizing tales through life’s journey (Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands).
A poet is an artist of words. Language can be an eerily dividing thing or an incredibly unifying thing. Crafting a message that’s both full of symbolism and realization takes us on a semantic journey to wherever we want to go. The power of interpretation creates an individualized experience that can make one stanza more personal than anything else you can think of. I could spend hours analyzing a line of poetry from Edgar Allen Poe and just get lost in the meaning. It’s a beautiful thing.
I am the proud owner of a copy of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy which is a roller coaster of epic proportions. Romance, comedy and tragedy all wrapped into one little book of poems. One of my favorites is called Voodoo Girl. Which one is yours? Like all poetry, this book can be interpreted in infinite ways. It’s simplistic rhymes and smooth rhythms are addicting and the accompanying artwork is beautifully executed.
I wish I could say that I transform into something more artistic when I experience Tim Burton’s work. The truth is that I don’t change into what I wish I could be, instead I reflect on where I’ve been, how I want that to change or continue and why I ended up where I am. That reflection is important in growth. How can I evolve without understanding where I come from? All I can say is that I am a collector of Tim Burton’s work for reasons that are beyond visual appeal. The $300 Deluxe edition of The Art of Tim Burton will grace my bookcase when I get my first big-kid job after graduation. I don’t worship the guy, but I appreciate his work.