Saturday, August 24, 2013

Celebrate Tim Burton’s 55th Birthday with Five Favorite Burton Films

Tim Burton celebrates his 55th Birthday today and we all wish a happy birthday to Tim! And to do so i welcome Blake Meredith, new D&M contributor and film blogger for where she covers everything from new releases, to classics, directors and writers. Blake lives and writes from Chicago, is a huge Tim Burton fan and counts The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach among her favorites. Today, she suggest to celebrate Tim Burton 55th Birthday with a choice of favorite Tim Burton movies.

Celebrate Tim Burton’s 55th Birthday with 5 Favorite Burton Films

There are countless lists and debates over which of Tim Burton’s works are truly his greatest. Batman, which was a huge commercial success and the reason for much of Burton’s creative influence, doesn’t even come close to the top ten in regards to overall viewer ratings. According to Rotten Tomatoes, along with Batman (which Burton himself wasn’t really a fan of) the films Beetlejuice and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also don’t breach the top five. Here instead is a look at the top reviewed, most popular Tim Burton films in honor of his upcoming 55th birthday.

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
            Scissorhands was created shortly after Batman’s success and allowed Burton to begin creating projects of his own choice. The film is one of three Burton projects that Winona Ryder stars in, and the first of the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton relationship that has resulted in eight films (so far). Burton had long been waiting to create the film, which had been inspired by the classic Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and considered actors such as Tom Cruise and Jim Carrey before settling on Depp. In the film, Edward is given his scissorhands by a quirky inventor. The inventor dies, leaving Edward entirely isolated until he is taken in by a bustling Avon saleswoman, Peg Boggs (Dianne Weist). During the film, Depp only says a total of 169 words. Perhaps because of this, Burton realized the astounding ability Depp had to act through facial expression alone, a talent that has made Depp famous in other roles. Burton’s visual presence, though not as dark as future films, was still at its finest — the director insured that every house in the Boggs’ neighborhood was painted either sea-foam green, dingy nude, butter or dirty blue.

4. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
            Perhaps one of Burton’s least grim creative works, Pee-wee tells the story of Pee Wee (Paul Reubens), an oversized man-child, who is devastated after his red bicycle is stolen. The film follows Pee Wee on his strange adventure to recover the bike, during which he meets various strange characters, although perhaps not as strange as himself. The script was based on Reubens’ own stand-up routine.The film is an off the wall, James Bond parody-style, action film starring a nerdy, innocent, man-child. This was Tim Burton’s first full-length film, and effectively launched both his and Danny Elfman’s careers. Afterwards, Elfman composed most of Burton’s film soundtracks. 

3. Ed Wood (1994)
            Unsurprisingly, Johnny Depp again stars in a Burton film as Ed Wood in this fictionalized biography. The film follows legendary low-budget science fiction director Ed Wood as he attempts to break into the directing business. Instead, he directs a series of failures and associates himself with an odd crew of Hollywood outcasts. Burton once again balances his comedic and tragic sides — at times the film will have you bursting in laughter, but Burton also highlights the heartbreaking effects of failure and displays his own passion for the world of movies. Roger Ebert said of the film, “What Burton has made is a film which celebrates Wood more than it mocks him, and which celebrates, too the zany spirit of the 1950s exploitation films.” It was Burton’s choice to shoot the film in black-and-white in order to retain a semblance of Ed Wood’s own work. Burton also refused a salary for the film, choosing instead to focus on having total creative autonomy.

Above: Tim Burton and actor and  longtime friend Johnny Depp

2. James and the Giant Peach (1996)
            Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s version of the famous Roald Dahl novel (who also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) comes close to the top of this list. James was created using a combination of live action and stop-motion animation. The tale, of James Henry Trotter, who finds himself befriending life size bugs and escaping from his horrible aunts, begins with live action until about twenty minutes in, when James enters the oversized peach. Then, using stop-motion animation, the magical world of talking bugs comes alive. Burton fans may not know that the stop motion figurine of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas was reused in the film, appearing as a dead pirate captain. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, and won Best Animated Feature Film at the Annecy International Animated FIlm Festival. In a review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film, “A technological marvel, arch and innovative with a daringly offbeat visual conception,” a description which could  be aptly applied to any of Tim Burton’s work.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
            It’s no surprise this film still tops the list, having been a family favorite for thirty years. Although not the official title, this film was such an obvious display of Tim Burton’s creative work and visual skills that it is often referred to as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The idea for the film originated in a poem written by Burton in 1982, while he was working as a Disney animator. Burton created a visual delight with his, now famous, sweet and creepy Halloween Town, occupied by monsters, vampires and various other creatures, all led by Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King. Jack discovers a portal into Christmas Town, and loves the holiday so much that he decides to bring the celebration to his own town. Burton admitted that the film was created by drawing inspiration from his own childhood obsession with holidays. To create the film, 227 puppets were used, with Jack Skellington rumored to have around “four hundred heads” for every possible emotion.

And you, what are your favorite Tim Burton movies? Let us know in the comments!

Pictures: copyright Disney, Touchstone, 20th Century Fox