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The Nightmares of Tim Burton

Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands Drawing

Known for his vivid and grand imagination, Tim Burton has graced both the big screens and galleries alike. With a mix of being both strange and unusual, Burton’s artwork embraces an imagination inspired by horror and humor.

Born in the sunny valley of Burbank, California in 1958, Burton is a film director, artist, illustrator, photographer and writer. In fact, he is best known for films like Beetlejuice, Batman and Edward Scissorhands. However, for those who may not remember those movies in particular, you may know him for other films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland or anything remotely related to Johnny Depp.

Some fanatics rank Burton’s ideas and concepts among the greats like David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock. 

A Burtonesques Way of Life!

But before the bright lights and wide screens, Burton spent most his time indulged in the company of his imagination, artwork and conceptual designs. As child, he was considered a loner and misfit. He used this time as a way to escape the suburban lifestyle and as a way to communicate his feelings and ideas. He quickly began indulging himself through colorful forms of popular entertainment like newspaper comics, children’s literature, animated cartoons and monster/science fiction films.

But when you actually take a deeper look into Burton’s concepts and storylines, you tend to see a consistent theme of transforming creatures, odd and weird children often attempting to make sense of equally odd adults and skeleton like beings mingling amongst humans.

His work showcases and emphasis on exaggeration, distortion, and fantasy parallel the work of many artists throughout history, particularly that of the German Expressionists period.

Through the Looking Glass

Burton also uses a repetition of certain shapes and symbols to communicate emotion as well. For instance, he uses geometric shapes for the faces of his troubled heroes and heroines. And, if you’ve notice with some of his characters, he composes them of circular or organic shapes centered on the eyes, faces and bodies. These circles are a symbolism of unhappiness and strike almost an unsettling mood about them.

His characters often times take narrative of being lonely, rejected and misunderstood. These characteristics are all a reflection of him. For instance, this can be seen in his 1990 film Edward Scissorhands. In movie, Johnny Depp represents a “dark story of conflict between good and evil emerging from a swamp of adolescent suburban conformity.” The character can be seen as a personification of a theme that recurs throughout much of his work. A feeling he often shares himself. The feeling of isolation and disconnect from the world at large and the search for true identity.

Stain Boy, Tim Burton
(Untitled) Ramone
Tim Burton
1980–1990
Pen and ink, marker and colored pencil on paper

Overall: 11 x 9″

Private Collection

Why Tim Burton?

But I chose Burton for a few reason. Those reason include his imagination, his use of dark and bright colors to communicate a mood to his audience and for his weirdness. As a matter of fact, I think my favorite films by him have to be Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland.  All of which, besides Beetlejuice and  The Nightmare Before Christmas, feature the likes of Johnny Depp who fits Burton’s sense of being misunderstood and a loner. I think it is because of Burton why I grew to like Depp as well. His work often inspires me to think outside the box with use of color and helps me find a comfort in my own weirdness. 

His Most Popular Movies!

BeetleJuice (1988)
The Corpse Bride (2005)
Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (2005)
FRANKENWEENIE (2012)
Batman Returns (1992)
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (2016)
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Work Cited:

http://www.lacma.org/sites/default/files/TBEssay.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Burton

https://www.slashfilm.com/tim-burton-write-stainboy-story-twitter/

https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2009/11/tim_burton_retrospective.html

https://2015.acmi.net.au/media/428206/edkit-burton-fantastical.pdf

https://www.artsy.net/gene/german-expressionism

Picture Links

http://foreigncinema.com/film/edward-scissorhands/

https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/article/tim-burtons-10-best-movies/

http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/tim-burton

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