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Defining Burton’s curious style and success


This month the Alamo Draft House hosted a mini-film festival called “Septemburton” that is dedicated solely to Tim Burton. Following Burton’s latest film release, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” based on the books by Ransom Riggs, the theater will screen a series of Burton’s other popular films.

But what about this specific director calls for a movie theater to dedicate a month to him? What is it about his style that attracts and keeps a viewership over the years since his first movie as a director in 1985?

Ghosts in the attic, deadly aliens from Mars, a man with scissors for hands, a zombie bride and a skeleton that craves Santa Claus’ job, all these are just a few peculiar characters of the wide array of that come from Tim Burton’s head. While real fans know who Tim Burton is, occasional movie-goers only know that he is Johnny Depp’s best friend. 

Before his directorial debut in “Peewee’s Big Adventure,” Tim Burton was an animator and artist for films such as “Tron” and “The Fox and the Hound.” It is his artistic nature that has produced some of his best work such as “The Corpse Bride,” “Frankenweenie” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which surprisingly he did not direct but produced, since the characters and story idea where his own.

Nevertheless, he is one of this generation’s most distinct auteurs. His style is often drenched in black and ornamented with a scattering of laughs. He takes the audience into a world that is peppered with the surreal, a bit dark, but even when dealing with death and decay and the morbid, Burton’s worlds exist with a touch of hope. After “Peewee’s Big Adventure,” it was Burton’s sophomore film that set his name in stellar lights. With “Beetlejuice,” Burton taught audiences that he can take the ordinary and add a twist of fantasy and horror. In the movie, the dead have their own caseworkers. They have their own manual for surviving (no pun intended) as the deceased in the land of the living have their own. 

Besides “Beetlejuice,” the film that conveys all things Burtonesque is “Edward Scissorhands,” the story about a boy with scissors for fingers living inside a ghastly castle that is near a dollhouse suburban neighborhood. In this film, Burton went all out, Edward is an out-of-place character that lives in a world that adopts him before it rejects him.

The film carries horror, fantasy and humor, and Burton mixes them all to create something that was never before seen on the silver screen. To answer your question, Johhny Depp and Winona Ryder are not that beautiful element, they are merely pieces to Burton’s game.

There are horror movies with little humor accredited to Burton, such as “Sleepy Hollow”  and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” But no matter how bloody these films are, at the end they have justice and a diminutive trail of hope.

As Burton has shared in an interview with “Time Out” the launching point of his style comes from his initial love of horror of films. “I had never really done something that was more of a horror film, and it’s funny because those are the kinds of movies I like more than any other genre.”

Tim Burton is one of the few directors that can give horror charm, his touch can linger into a nightmare, but even though the scene may appear grim and dark, there is a chance for redemption that we all deserve.

Andres Gallegos may be reached at [email protected].

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Defining Burton’s curious style and success