Defining Films of Tim Burton


Tim Burton is one of those filmmakers you can recognize their work within a few seconds of the movie. His quirky style has a certain gothic tone with definite cartoonish element. Here I look at the films of Burton that best define his distinctive style.

Vincent: A short film from his early days as an artist. It is a black and white stop motion cartoon about a young boy who pretends to be legendary actor, Vincent Price. Despite it being early in his career we see two trademark of his future films. First is the use of stop motion animation, a style of animation which he would breathe fresh life into with his later films, most notably in the Burton produced cult classic, Nightmare Before Christmas. The second thing we see his Burton’s known love of classic horror movie actors. This film pays tribute to the beloved Vincent Price whom he would later work with; yet through the years Burton has worked with other legendary actors of the genre such as; Christopher Lee and Michael Gough. He also makes a point of paying tribute to horror icons in his films like; Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre.

Edward Scissorhands: Hands down my personal favorite film from the man and to this day remains one of Johnny Depp’s greatest performances. This film is the first collaboration between the director and his most worked with actor who will stay with him for years. Burton’s love of fairy tales is clearly on display here as he tells the store of the misfit creature in the tower who is adopted by a family in the town below and falls in ,love with their daughter. It also showcases a visual style that would become his own with cartoonish gothic sets which create a distinctive visual language in his films.

Ed Wood: Burton’s love of classic sci-fi and horror B-Movies has never been a secret and this flick is his tribute to the master of bad genre films, Edward D. Wood. With a spot on performance from Johnny Depp and an Oscar winning performance from Martin Landau as Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi, Burton introduced a new generation to such films that influenced him like; Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space. It also continues on one of his favorite themes, the struggle of the outsider.

Batman Returns: One of the things about Burton’s films as mentioned earlier is the visuals and sets he uses and no movie of his better showcases. From towering spires to cavernous sewers every set piece of this flick screams, Burton.

Big Fish: Burton loves making movies about characters with father issues and this one is where he does it best. With an all-star ensemble cast he tells the story of a father and his strained relationship through his son who knows him only through far fetched stories. Despite having fun with Burton’s trademark weirdness the emotional impact of this film can not be denied.