Sunday, April 18, 2010

Distinctive Characters

Another element used in Burton’s films is the element of distinctive characters. Characters who don’t fit in to society and are frowned open in a way. Characters outside the norm. We see the use of this element in most of Burton’s films, for example in Edward Scissorhands. Edward lives in a mansion on top of a hill away from the rest of society, he dresses all in black and has a pale face making him stand out in an odd way to the people around him who are dressed in bright colours. In Ed Wood, Ed Jr is outside the norm and seen as a freak because he likes wearing woman’s clothing even though he is straight, and his girlfriend dumps him because of this. Sweeney Todd again he doesn’t fit into society because of his hatred and the only person he relates to and likes enough to not kill is Mrs. Lovett. In Big Fish Ed Bloom is seen as a liar because of the stories he tells and is hated by his own son because of this. Corpse Bride Victor is seen as a disappointment to his parents and everyone around him in the land of the living but Victoria. In Sleepy Hollow Ichabod Crane is an outsider to the village he is sent to because he doesn’t believe in superstition like everyone else does. It is a pattern that we see used time and time again in his films. Mostly these characters are pale faced dressed in gothic colours and look as if they are dead almost. Burton also uses distinguished actors in his films like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. When we go and see a Tim Burton film we expect it to be dull with un-saturated colours and selective colours used. We expect it to Dark with dark lighting and shadowing used often. We expect the main character to be outside the norm that is shunned and rejected from society and we also expect to see Johnny Depp and/or Helena Bonham Carter to play a role in the film. Burton is known for his dark gothic style to films and outside the norm characters. It is a pattern that he has continued throughout his films and is now expected by viewers to be that style and have that dull colouring with gothic undertones and outside the norm characters. Throughout Burtons career as a prominent director, Burtons use of un-saturated colouring and selective colouring, gothic undertones, distinctive outside the norm characters, and dark lighting, which tend to reoccur in his films and have become a motif of his unique directing style.

Low Key Lighting is also used to create atmosphere in Burton’s film Corpse Bride. In scene 6 Victor arrives in the land of the dead, When Victor is taken to the land of the dead the atmosphere of the film changes. Victor passes out after practicing his voles in the woods and meeting his corpse bride he then tries to flee from her but faints and wakes up in the “World of the Dead”. When Victor was in the land of the living with his Victorian upbringing his surroundings (people buildings plants etc) where dark with little colour and light, The sky is always grey, when there are scenes inside buildings there is never any artificial light used to try make the movie brighter, in scene 2 when we see Victors parents entering Victorias house there is no light in the house except the light from outside that shines through when the door is open (which isn’t much light at all because the skies are grey) The buildings light source is the daylight that shines through windows and that is repeated throughout the movie dull dark lighting. However in the land of the dead they have green lighting that brings a more cheerful atmosphere. They use a spotlight on the skeleton when he is telling the story of the corpse bride, which brings everything to life rather then having no lighting at all like they have in the land of the living. There is lively music playing and the lighting is more vibrant, there is artificial lighting used and it brightens the whole atmosphere of the movie making the land of the dead have a festive feeling compared to the land of the living which is ironic seeing as well in the land of the dead is full of dead people.

In Edward Scissorhands again we see Burton using dark low key lighting again. When the Avon lady drives to Edwards house to sell her beauty products she enters his house. We once again see dull greys used colour wise the house looks old and washed out. We see light streaming in through windows and the open door but that is all the light that Edwards house is given. There are no lamps or lights around the house to light it up and give it a brighter mood there is just the light from the windows. Since there is quite a bit of light coming in through the windows the light creates shadows of people giving it a spooky house effect. If you shoot with natural light in your living you will end up with a picture that is full of dull greys and grey whites which is what Burton has used here. Burton has allowed the roof of the Edwards house to have a massive hole in it which also allows light and Edwards house has quite a few big windows al around the place as showen in this scene. Burton has made Edwards house as dark and dull as possible. Whereas in the town of perfect little people a lot of light is shown in the houses we have artififcal house lights a lot more bright colours in the houses which adds light giving the difference of edwards house compared to everyone else houses very different atmospheres.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tim Burton is a man very well known in the filmmaking industry. Burton uses distinctive elements of film in Edward Scissorhands (1994) Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999) Big Fish (2003) Corpse Bride (2005) and Sweeny Todd (2007). To present the themes, which tend to reoccur and become a motif of his unique directing style some of these elements of film language that he uses are, Camera angles, Distinctive Characters, Sound and Colour. These are all used to portray important ideas and are now expected in his films. The three movies I have decided to focus on are Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish and Corpse Bride. The frequent use of De-saturated colour and Over-saturated colour in Burton's films gives his film an unnatural gothic washed out feeling. In Corpse Bride, Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands colour is used to portray atmosphere, and the difference between two different worlds.

The atmosphere that is created in the film Corpse Bride is a very washed out depressing atmosphere, Burton uses De-Saturated colour in shades of black grey blue and very pale whites. Scene 1 we see Victor (the main protagonist) drawing a picture of a butterfly, which he then sets free out the window. The butterfly is the most colour we see in this scene and even that is a very washed out blue. A tracking shot is then used to follow the butterfly and as we do this we see the town that Victor is living in, There is no difference of colour between buildings everything is a depressing shade. We see people at work also no colour but the bland shades of grey and pale faces giving them an almost gothic dead look, the men chopping up fish show no facial expressions. We then see a man shoo the butterfly away getting rid of the only bit of colour in this scene. Burton has deliberately made the colours de-saturated giving them a washed out look, the colours show us that the town is a depressed town the pale faces of the people along with the washed out colour can also be read as the fact that the town is more dead then alive. It gives us the feeling that the people who live there aren’t happy with their life and almost feel imprisoned to the strict Victorian upbringing they have.

(couldnt find the clip on youtube)

In Edward Scissorhands Tim Burton once again uses de-saturated colour and Over-saturated colour in this film. The town in which Edward Scissorhands lives has saturated colour making it seem unnatural and fake, everything is peachy and happy and too good to be true. But when we see where Edward lives the colour is de-saturated making it seem washed out, dead and gloomy as if Edward is not a part of the town and doesn’t fit in. In scene 3 of Edward Scissorhands we are introduced to the town by a lady who is going around town selling makeup, we see the over use of colour in the town, the houses that are green and pink, the bright coloured clothes and make up everyone is wearing, the colours of the cars. Everything is over the top. Then the lady adjusts her car mirror and in the reflection we see Edwards house up on the hill that has no colour, all the trees around it are dead and the house is gray/black. The colour is washed out making it seem as if it is dead or prison like, Burton has again purposely de-saturated the colour of Edwards house and the colour of his clothing to give us the idea of Edward not belonging, living in his own world, Edwards face is pale making him look as if he is almost dead. We get the feeling he is imprisoned to his own life unable to join the rest of the world.

In Big Fish, we see that a difference of colour is used to portray reality and fantasy once again. Ed Bloom tells these stories of events that apparently happened when he was younger, and it flashes back so we can see these events unfolding. Although Tim Burton doesn’t use de-saturated colour in Big Fish like he does in Corpse Bride he uses Over-Saturated colour for the flash backs, where things are too colourful and unreal compared to what the colour is like in Ed Blooms reality. In scene 8 of Big Fish Ed tells the story of him leaving town and taking a short cut, which then leads him to this over the top happy fantasy town. Bright colours and happy music are used and we get the feeling that the town is surreal. When a little girl steals Ed’s shoes and throws them over a power line with a bunch of other shoes that are dangling there we get to see the contrast of colours between the reality (his shoes) and the fantasy (the town) we see that his shoes are dull and grey whereas the town has the greenest grass and bluest sky imaginable. Burton hasn’t used de-saturated colour in this film like he has in Corpse Bride and Edward Scissor hands but he is still using the same theme, The fact that the colour in the flash backs are over-Saturated making it clear to us that it’s a fantasy world not reality, a world where Ed Bloom lives in.

Youtube Videos will not load up onto my blog :( ive tried time and time again!!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Burtons Films He Directed

"I grew up watching things like The Brain that Wouldn't Die on Saturday afternoon television. There's a guy with his arm ripped off and blood smeared all over the wall…I never saw it as negative. I find that stuff, when it's not rooted in reality, to be cathartic."

Stalk of the Celery Monster (1979) also animator

Luau (1982) co-animator and co-director

Vincent (1982)

Hansel and Gretel (1982)

Frankenweenie (1984)

Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp (1984)

for the Faerie Tale Theatre television seriesThe Jar (1985)

for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Beetlejuice (1987)

Batman (1989)

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Conversations with Vincent (1990) Documentary

Batman Returns (1992)

Ed Wood (1994)

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Hollywood Gum (1998) French TV commercial for chewing gum

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Big Fish (2003)

Corpse Bride (2005)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Sweeney Todd (2007) The Demon Barber

Alice in Womderland (2010)

Tim Burton

"A lot of things you see as a child remain with you…you spend a lot of your life trying to recapture the experience. "

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tim Burtons early films.

Tim Burtons earliest known film is "The Island of Doctor Agor" which was made in 1971, when Burton was just thirteen years old. It was an animated film shot on Super 8 with a group of his friends. Around the same time, the budding filmmaker also made a short film called Houdini, with himself playing the famous escape artist.

In !979 he decided to make his first “proper” film, a pencil drawn cartoon called "Stalk of the Celery Monster" this film attracted the attention of Disney, who offered the young Burton a job.

Burton apparently never really fitted in at Disney, especially as it existed in the eighties. While working fruitlessly as an animator on "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Black Cauldron,"

Burton spent his spare time indulging his real passion by directing cheapo films such as "Doctor of Doom" (1980) and coming up with ideas for his own personal projects, including what would later become "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Burton then directed during this time the infamously bizarre film, "Luau" which involved things such as surfing, disembodied alien heads and other weird things. (Clips from the film are available on the A&E biography of Burton) He also came up with the film "Trick or Treat," but we are only offered tantalising hints for those of us who have not seen the film.

"Vincent" was Burton’s first film that actually saw a release, albeit a limited one. A stop-motion animated movie shot in beautiful black and white, it was based on a poem Burton had written himself (1982)

"Frankenweenie" (1984) The film Frankenweenie expanded on many of the classic Burton themes that first surfaced in Vincent. Unfortunately, the film never saw a release at the time. Disney had planned to screen it before a re-release of Pinocchio, but that plan was cancelled when Frankenweenie was given a PG rating, making it “unsuitable” for younger kids. The film was then shelved for about 10 years but praise from people in the film industry who had seen it (which included Stephen King) would eventually lead Burton his first feature film work.

That same year, Shelly Duvall (who had starred in Frankenweenie) asked Burton to direct an episode of her Faerie Tale Theatre series. Burton was chosen to helm "Aladdin and his wonderful lamp" (That episode is now avalible on dvd)

Burton did a respectable job in what was essentially his first “director for hire” role. However, it was not a completely satisfying experience for the director, and he vowed in future to only direct projects he had a personal connection to. His next project was, of course, "Pee-wees Big Adventure."

Burton’s final directing job for TV was an episode of the new Alfred Hitchcock Presents series. The Jar (which aired in 1986) was a memorably creepy story with Griffin Dunne carrying around a sinister head in a jar.

After this, Burton’s feature film career took off and, aside from the odd commercial and web cartoon, he left behind the world of short filmmaking.

Burton’s early films vary wildly, both in production quality and storyline. However, they all have some degree of his fantastical vision stamped on them and are an intriguing portrait of a young director’s developing style.

References:IMDBBurton on Burton by Mark Salisbury (Faber and Faber)Tim Burton by Jim Smith and J Clive Matthews (Virgin Books)Images courtesy of Le Monde de Tim Burton