Friday, November 16, 2007

20:07 (Burton Scissored)

I love this 20:07 image from Edward Scissorhands I’ve always loved the way Edward embodies all things Burtonian and yet he’s in this very pastel environment for most of the film. In this still he's in Kim's bedroom, the girl he'll soon fall for. It’s such a great juxtaposition --a perfect visual foreshadowing of the most famous dialogue exchange later on:
Kim: Hold me.
Edward: I can’t.
The environment may be soft but it’s hard on Edward. He’s all uncomfortable sharp edges. The irony being that Edward is himself deeply squishy and huggable on the inside.

Tim Burton is on the brain due to that Cinema's Demon Barber Event on Wednesday. I thought I’d share a few anecdotes not involving a certain Sondheim musical since some readers asked.

The initial Burton clipreel provoked a lot more smiling nostalgia that I expected. T’was a great reminder that he’s consistently been one of the most fun filmmakers to ever contribute to the medium (“fun” being a major compliment). Dialogue snippets from the film were obviously chosen for their correlation to the man behind the curtain. Lines like "Gentlemen, let's broaden our minds", "We are dealing with a madman here", "People fear the unusual", and "visions are worth fighting for" (yet the editors were smart enough to include “I am Catwoman. Hear me roar” which made no sense in context but who can get enough of Pfeiffer’s line readings in that film? Not I!)

They divided the evenings clips up into three sections: Blockbusters -- in which they discussed the effects heavy films and/or smash hits, Animation --in which they discussed the short films which put his name on Hollywood tongues many moons ago plus the feature toons, and Collaboration with Johnny Depp -- in which they discussed the rest of the filmography (Johnny’s in just shy of half of his films)

Some notes of interest from the evening:
  • During the blockbuster section, Burton reminded us that Hollywood didn’t always think in terms of “franchise” and “fast food tie-ins” and the only ground rule for the original Batman was “make it successful” –that got a big laugh.
  • He seemed to have mixed feelings about Batman Returns but mentioned that he was proud to have made a movie where a major character licks themselves and that while making it he was entirely focused on the animals (The Penguin and Catwoman).
  • The interviewer was doing that annoying thing interviewers do at these events where they try to be overly kind about a critical failure. Burton was much more direct about the disappointment that was his Planet of the Apes remake. He said with some defeat in his voice ‘it made money. But that’s not why you make movies.’ He made it because “I was lured by talking apes” His final thought: "I tried"
  • He knew of Pee Wee before they made Big Adventure and that his job there was different than it’s been on other pictures. The character was already created: He just had to provide the world Pee Wee could live in.
  • He once worked on Disney's Fox and the Hound. While he worked there it was "a dead place." He mentioned that the talent was amazing (John Lasseter, Henry Selick, Brad Bird were mentioned by name) but nothing was happening. That nothing gave him freedom to make Vincent.
  • He felt bad for other filmmakers after Ed Wood bombed because he had to talk everyone into letting him make it --he knew that the failure would prevent other black and white pictures from getting the greenlight.
  • Though he started as an artist, he storyboards less and less. He’s more interested in collaborating with the actors and seeing what happens.
  • The audience at the event loved the conversation about Sleepy Hollow. He reminded us that this was before Pirates of the Caribbean. He knew that though people liked Johnny and him, there was a feeling of "duck and cover --here comes another bomb." He said that Johnny wanted to look like the Disney animated Ichabod with a huge nose but the studio was against it. The compromise: 'Johnny you can’t wear the nose but OK, OK you can play the hero like a 13 year old girl.'

On that amusing note, let's wrap up. These are my favorite Burton films:

1 Edward Scissorhands
2 Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
3 Ed Wood
4 Batman Returns
5 Mars Attacks

Share yours in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I grew up watching his films and I love them all.

Even Mars Attacks! and Planet of the Apes are interesting failures.

My favourites:
1. Edward Scissorhands
2. Ed Wood
3. Beetle Juice
4. Big Fish
5. Sleepy Hollow

Jason Adams said...

I can't do just five!

1. Ed Wood
2. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
3. Beetlejuice
4. Edward Scissorhands
5. Sleepy Hollow
6. Batman Returns
7. Mars Attacks!

And I love all seven of those deeply. The rest of his films - Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and the first Batman - all have their moments, but don't approach how I feel about those seven, which I could, and have, watch over and over again.

Joe Reid said...

1 - Edward Scissorhands
2 - Ed Wood
3 - Beetlejuice
4 - Pee Wee
5 - Sleepy Hollow

Anonymous said...

1 - sleepy hollow
2 - batman returns
3 - beetlejuice
4 - ed wood
5 - edward scissorhands

Brian Darr said...

Thanks for the report on the event, Nathaniel! Imagine a world in which PLANET OF THE APES and ED WOOD reversed their box-office totals...

My favorites:

1. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
2. Edward Scissorhands
3. Ed Wood
4. Frankenweenie (which was just announced to be remade as a feature!)
5. Sleepy Hollow

If we count films he produced but didn't direct, Nightmare Before Christmas would be #3 and the rest would slip down a notch.

c.p. iñor said...




Anonymous said...

My Favorite Burton Films:

1. Batman Returns
2. Sleepy Hollow
3. Edward Scissorhands
4. Mars Attacks!
5. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Cinesnatch said...

Thanks for the post, Nate.

1. Pee Wee
2. Ed Wood
3. Michelle Pfeiifer as "Catwoman"
4. Beetlejuice
5. Edward Scissorhands

Cinesnatch said...


adam k. said...

This was fun to read about, Nat.

I've grown weary lately of Burston's tiresome filmic "shtick" with the goth and the whimsy always being the same. And with two of his recent films really bugging me (the incredibly "blah" Big Fish and the completely redundant and insulting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

But I'd forgotten what a fun personality he is, and how many great or otherwise interesting and fun films he's made in the past. I'm so glad you love Mars Attacks! I do, too, I need to see it again. I also haven't seen Pee Wee since I was a small child, and should reconnect with that one, too... I remember it being zany, fun, and kind of frightening. The only other film of his I feel particularly strongly about is Edward Scissorhands, which I own and believe to be his masterpiece.

But I hope Sweeney Todd gives it a run for its money.

adam k. said...

Oh but unfortunately I really can't get behind the idea of Batman Returns being great, outside of Pfeiffer's tour-de-force turn. Can someone explain to me why it's so loved? I thought it was boring most of the time Pfeiffer wasn't onscreen... just didn't hold together as anything special, felt more like a standard comic book action film with a Burtony twist. Am I missing something?

Pfeiffer was super-fun, though, that much is true.

Anonymous said...

My favorites:

Ed Wood (my favorite of his movies)
Batman Returns
Sleepy Hollow
Edward Scissorhands


I forgot mention that he was wearing black and white striped socks. which is just so... Tim Burton.

Anonymous said...

I was really surprised that I liked Big Fish. I was so sure I'd really hate it as a Tim Burton-style fairy tale. But in the end, I was really moved.


I wish I liked Big Fish more. I think it was the framing device which threw me. Thought it was so dull. But I agree that the ending was really moving.

Eli said...

I'm so excited Burton is filming the film version of Alice in Wonderland! How good is that gonna be? I'm just hoping he doesn't cast Helena as Alice....

....something tells me Johnny is gonna be the Mad Hatter.

Matt Sigl said...

1. Ed Wood
2. Edward Scissorhands
3. Beetlejuice
4. Batman
5. Sleepy Hollow

But I need to see "Mars Attacks!" again because I remember loving it. It could easily bump "Sleepy Hollow."

I am doing a whole Burton and Sondheim retropective over at my blog for the next month. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

1. Ed Wood (such a great movie)
2. Sleepy Hollow
3. Edward Scissorhands
4. Mars Attacks!
5. Batman Returns


Glenn Dunks said...

Like Adam, I haven't seen Peewee since I was a very young kid so I probably can't rank it. Otherwise...

1. Edward Scissorhands
2. Batman Returns
3. Sleepy Hollow (nice anecdote about Johnny circa 99)
4. Ed Wood
5. Mars Attacks
6. Beetlejuice

And I am a very big fan of Frankenweenie and Vincent.

I'm not that big on Batman, Charlie and Big Fish. Definitely negative on Apes. Just terrible.

I hope Sweeney Todd can fall into the good side of things. I really want a good Burton film again.

Anonymous said...

1. Ed Wood
2. Edward Scissorhands
3. Batman Returns
4. Beetlejuice
5. Sleepyhollow

I'm actually less than enthused by most of the films he's done since Ed Wood, but his interpretation of Sleepy Hollow has really grown on me.

Anonymous said...

Tim Burton used to be one of my absolute faves but his later work has been spotty. There's no denying he's a wonderful visualist but sometimes his stories and writing don't match the images. You just never know whether a film of his will be great or a real clunker.


CRG --spotty is just the right word. The more I think about Sweeney though the more I'm excited to see the rest of it. It felt so subdued... i'm not sure if that will be the case for the whole experience or if it was just the selection of scenes but maybe Burton has matured? Maybe Sweeney is strong enough source material that Burton's issues with "story" wont' get in the way as much.

Karen said...

Cool blog!!!