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The Wizard of Odd: A Spotlight On Tim Burton


By Geoffrey Huchel

Tim Burton is an Oscar nominated American film director, producer, artist, writer and animator. Burton is known for his dark, eccentric horror and fantasy films. His use of gothic imagery showcases his very unique style of filmmaking. In his early life Burton spent most of his time by himself drawing cartoons and watching old movies, especially those of Vincent Price, who he was a big fan of. After graduating high school Burton landed his first job as an animator for Disney. While at Disney, Burton worked on such films as THE FOX AND THE HOUND (1981) and THE BLACK CAULDRON (1985). Disney recognized his talent and greenlit his animated short film VINCENT (1982).

Burton directed his first feature-length film, PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE (1985), starring Paul Reubens. The film was a surprise success and Burton gained instant popularity. After the success of PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, Burton directed an episode for FAERIE TALE THEATRE (1982) and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (1985). His next film would go on to become one of the most popular films of his career, the comedy BEETLEJUICE (1988), starring Michael Keaton in the title role. The film also starred Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder. The following year he reunited with Michael Keaton to direct the blockbuster BATMAN (1989), starring Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger.

Burton’s next projects happen to be two of my personal favorites- EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990), starring Johnny Depp (in his first of many collaborations with Burton) and Winona Ryder and BATMAN RETURNS (1992). Burton and Keaton reunited once again for this movie, which also starred Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito and Christopher Walken. For his next project Burton produced the fan favorite THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The film featured the voice talents of Danny Elfman and Catherine O’Hara as the iconic couple Jack Skellington and Sally. Burton’s next directorial project was for the Oscar nominated ED WOOD (1994). The film starred Johnny Depp, Martin Landau and Sarah Jessica Parker. Burton finished up the 1990s with the sci-fi comedy MARS ATTACKS (1996), reuniting him with stars Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and Sarah Jessica Parker and the horror/mystery SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999), starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.

The 2000s brought more success and hit films for Burton, such as PLANET OF THE APES (2001), starring Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham Carter, BIG FISH (2003), with Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney and CORPSE BRIDE (2005), featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson. Also in 2005, Burton directed CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. The film starred Johhny Depp as Willy Wonka and a young Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket. Burton’s reimagining of the classic children’s book of the same name received mixed reviews with critics and movie fans alike. Burton reunited again with Depp and Helena Bonham Carter to direct the horror/musical SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET and the fantasy ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010).

In the past few years Burton’s projects included FRANKENWEENIE (2012, featuring the voices of BEETLEJUICE costars Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara, in addition to Martin Short and Martin Landau; the film adaptation DARK SHADOWS (2012), based on the hit 1970s TV series about vampires. This film again reunited Burton with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter; BIG EYES (2014), starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waitz and MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (2016), with Eva Green (of DARK SHADOWS), Judi Dench, Asa Butterfield and Samuel L. Jackson. Burton’s next project is the live action DUMBO (2019). The movie stars Eva Green, Colin Farrell and Michael Keaton.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I am still patiently waiting and hoping for a BEETLEJUICE 2.

Burton is known to collaborate with the same actors/actresses in multiple films. Some notable ones include: Johnny Depp ( 8 total), Helena Bonham Carter (7 total), Christopher Lee (6 total), Winona Ryder (3 total), Michael Keaton (3 total), Catherine O’Hara (3 total), Michelle Pfeiffer ( 2 total), and Christopher Walken ( 2 total). Burton also has a long history of collaborating with talented composer Danny Elfman, who composed the score for all, but two, of Burton’s films.

Essential Burton:

BATMAN (1989)

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