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Burton And His Auter Essay, Research Paper

It makes you realize how abstract the film

industry, and life in general, really is

how much of it is just based on things that

are out of your control.

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Tim Burton is just a man like any other man, except any other man is not Tim Burton. Tim Burton is a filmmaker. As a filmmaker, Burton has creative power over what he produces, directs, or even writes. His auteur, ?a term in film criticism that is applied to a director who so dominates the film-making process that it is appropriate to call the director the auteur, or author, of the movie,? is clearly evident in his movies. There are two things you can find in any Tim Burton film, a Gothic style of set decoration, lighting, and or music, and a plot focusing on a misunderstood outcast. These two themes occurring in Tim Burton?s films, allow him to be credited with the ?auteur? title. This paper will explore Tim Burton?s use of cinematic techniques of lighting, set design, and music to explore his Gothic style. It will include a focus on characters recurring in his films to shed light on the outcast character development.

One of the most characteristic elements of Tim Burton films is their visual style. Images of Gothic architecture and lighting ooze from his films. Goth is a ?subculture, style, and way of thinking?. But Goth has a far deeper root. The style of Goth is highly indebted to the German Expressionism of the twenties. Sharp contrasts of light and dark, extended shadows, and distorted images not only come from German Expressionist films, but from the thirties Universal horror films. Burton?s first film, Vincent, is the best example of this style. Shot in black and white, it paints the picture of a child, loosing his grip in the real world, and finding himself drawn into his horror world. Many of the shots from Vincent are surprisingly similar to those found in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with impossible shaped windows, exaggeratedly high furniture, and geometric shadows. Burton?s second example of this Expressionist style is Nightmare Before Christmas. Not only is the furniture shaped irregular with tall backs and extremely short legs for chairs, twisted and slanted doors, but also the characters themselves express this style. Jack, the main character, is a tall character with extremely spider like long legs and arms. Other characters have huge bodies and small heads or big heads and small bodies.

Burton?s films have an overtone of dark and mysterious, the style part of Goth. His films include gothic architecture. The cities in Batman and Batman Forever are dark and grotesque. Huge towers seem to lean over the city, with gargoyles and ledges branching out over the low streets and squares. The castle in Edward Scissorhands is also cast with dark cloud and spires, while the town in comparison is light with pastels. Which is interesting to note considering Tim Burton also uses a cartoonish style. (This topic will be discussed later) It is interesting to realize one rarely sees the sun, or a bright sunshine sky in a lot of Burton?s film. While there is light from the sun, it is overcast and cloudy, or there is a stark contrast with light in one area, and dark in another. This is true with Burton?s Batman movies and Sleepy Hollow. Especially with Batman Returns, the sun is strikingly absent throughout, and the only scene that is brightly lit is the one where The Penguin is introduced to his candidature for mayor.

Tim Burton uses a cartoonish style in his films. A better way to explain it would be to say it is a live action cartoon. Everything in a cartoon is completely controlled. From the location to the lighting, everything is scrutinized. In a cartoon, one can have anything they want in it, or decide not to have some things in it. Pee-Wee?s Big Adventure is made up of this cartoonish style. Bright colors explode onto the screen, notably the shiny red bicycle. Other films such as Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice also have a wide variety of colors. Using many pastels to paint the setting of a quiet town in the middle of nowhere. With the exception of Pee-Wee, these films are not dominant in cartoonish style. These films actually portray the stark contrast of the light and dark worlds. Different worlds are another form contributing to the overall theme of Burton. Pee-Wee has its toys and games, but it also filled with dark monsters. Pee-Wee?s nightmares are about various creatures attacking his beloved bicycle are pitch black and very scary, as is the sequence with Large Marge, the ghostly truck driver. With Batman Returns, it is a stark contrast to have a film notably dark, and then throw in a scene that is lighted brightly. The film itself becomes Expressionist, not just scenes. Edward Scissorhands is taken from a dark castle to a town rich full of pastels. Throwing on normal clothes over his black leather body does not hide the fact of who he is and what he still is. It is another different world since Edward is a kind gentle person with an abnormal body, while the townspeople in the pastel clothing, are mean and hypocritical. The different worlds, or split worlds, also helps to contribute to the development of the outcast character.

The split world is one of Burton’s regular themes, worked out thematically as well as visually in nearly every one of his films. Many of Burton?s main characters have a dualistic personality, one living in a normal world, while the other possessing the abnormal. ?Burton films are usually split into a “normal” world, which somehow never comes across as being either regular or attractive, and a “weird” world, in which his characters are invariably more at home. This “weird” world is never understood by the “normal” side, and the “weird” characters often long for acceptance by the other side, but are always rejected and misperceived in the end.? For most Burton characters, it is this misperception by the people around them and their ideas of what being “normal” means that brands them outsiders.

Batman, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Joker, Jack, and Beetlejuice all have something in common. They are all outcasts of society. Society has placed them away from themselves, why? Because they don?t understand them, they are misunderstood. The plot of Tim Burton?s movies has a misunderstood outcast. Every single one of Tim Burton?s films has this character. From Vincent to Batman to Sleepy Hollow, all incorporate this character. One of the most recognizable of these is Batman Returns. Batman incorporates the outcast character paralleling the split world type personality. Bruce Wayne, not being in control of his own life, finds an escape by dressing up as a grim, masked super-hero. He escapes from one world, the one of business and pain from the death of his mother and father, to one where he can control, or at least try to control what is going on in this split life. Selina Kyle turns from a scrawny little secretary, where she is unhappy with her life, into a black leather powerful villain. When she acts as the Catwoman, she has confidence and courage, but while as Selina, she is timid and meek. Jack Napier, from Batman, is a cool collective gangster searching for power. When he turns into the Joker, he becomes a clown bent on human suffering for no reason at all by playing sadistic jokes. Vincent, from his first film, and Victor from Frankenweenie, are both children whose parents believe they don?t fit the picture of normal. It is the people of the film, not the main characters that brand the stars outcasts. Yet all the stars want to be a part of the normal world. This kind of longing can be traced to Chaplin and his character. Always wanting to be a part of someone?s world, be it rich or powerful, usually realizing at the end he will never be able to fit it and having to move on. Edward Scissorhands has the same longing, wanting to be a part of the town, but because of his limitations, the town outcasts him. He finally realizes he will never fit it and returns to the castle.

The question arises, why are there so many characters like this? Is he trying to say something? To understand why, one must have an understanding of where Tim Burton comes from. Tim Burton?s life is an outcast character. Never really seeming to grow up feeling accepted. Working at Disney he didn?t fit it with the rest, he had his own ideas and personality, which we all do. “Disney and I were a bad mix. [...] I got all the cute fox scenes to draw, and I couldn’t draw all those four-legged Disney foxes. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even fake the Disney style. Mine looked like road kills. So luckily I got a lot of far-away shots to do.” Tim Burton?s characters portray his feelings, as well as many other people. Jack, from Nightmare before Christmas, is a character that is the king at what he does, yet he tires of his work and no one seems to understand him. This is especially related to Burton while at Disney. Batman is nothing more than Bruce Wayne dressed in a costume fighting crime, not many people understand why he does it. The Penguin, he also is misunderstood from his birth. Most people say Pee-Wee Herman is weird, but it is just another way of saying someone doesn?t fit in. Lydia, from Beetlejuice, when asked as to why she can see the dead, but not her parents, replies: ?I myself am, strange and unusual?. Why does she say this, because she herself is also an outcast.

Since the Gothic theme runs throughout his films, music follows closely behind. When Tim Burton needs music, there is one man he continues to turn to. That man is Danny Elfman. Danny Elfman is an accomplished composer with seventy films under his belt. On top of that he was the lead singer and songwriter for Oingo Boingo. Danny Elfman?s music has dark overtones. It is accompanied by horns and other instrument not used as much, such as the cello and xylophones. Music has been said to make the movie, while this is not always true, it can contribute to the overall theme or mood of a film. Elfman does this for Burton. Being able to create happy music, such as the Simpsons, to blood running in Sleepy Hollow. Elfman is able to created mood for Burton, not when artistic vision is lacking, but to add even more effect to what is already there. ?[...] The extraordinary success of both [Batman] movies comes as something of a surprise, since these are intensely personal affairs, with Batman Returns coming across as even more of a Tim Burton film than did the original. Gothic architecture, adorned with bizarre gargoyles, is constantly powdered with snow (Edward Scissorhands), the Danny Elfman score swells around the action like a tempestuous sea (Edward, Batman) and the oddball characters are constantly preoccupied with their outsider status (Edward, Batman, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) ..]?

When Tim Burton first got his chance with Disney, he made Vincent, one Disney deemed inappropriate for children. His film is good work. Not only are they blockbuster hits, but also his style is recognized across the globe as a form of artistic realism. One such fan had this to say:

Between his words and what he has created in film lies a great degree of the truth, though many times that truth is more apt to raise questions than to provide clear-cut answers. The result of this approach to him produces a darker, more complex, and possibly slightly disturbing image, but also a more human and solid one.

Since Tim Burton?s movies all have recurring themes, you must realize the popularity of his work and the attempt to capitalize on them. Part of Hollywood contributed to Burton?s ever growing auteur. When his earlier work began to become famous, he was branded with a label, something he hates. When he first began to receive publicity, it was about his strange demeanor. When once asked if it was all worth the price paying he replied: “You pay the price for it in your childhood. When everybody treats you as if you’re….” Burton’s voice trails off, as if he’s catching himself doing what’s been done to him by friends, family and countless magazine writers: labeling himself. “Once you go through that in your life, and it’s not something you choose, having people put you in the category of being…? Burton chooses his next words carefully:”…not like them. It’s not something I chose. I would’ve probably preferred to have been a bit more accepted. But it’s a very common thing, people putting other people into categories. From very early on, it happens to everyone. For me personally, it was painful at the time, but it was also valuable, because it’s so painful that you begin to realize that it doesn’t matter what the f#@% anybody thinks of you, because they already think about you. It’s not really who you are, anyway.”

Burton?s last comment, although quite strong, tells us a lot about himself. He himself is an outcast character. Trying to find his space in society where people label him as being weird. His expression turns to film where he can be who he wants to be, or at least think he is. Burton?s life is a film. His dark clothes and kooky hairstyle help with the images of Goth and Expressionism, his attitude while filming, and that during his normal life, differ just as his characters with their split personalities. His world is film, and he loses himself in that world by withdrawing from the one he is currently presiding. His grasp fro control is to try and create his world here.

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Available http://www.encyclopedia.com/

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