How to describe a Tim Burton movie? The writer, director, producer, and illustrator has been sharing his visions of love, children, fear, and beauty with moviegoers for three decades now. His stories are equal parts juvenile and macabre. His characters are dark but whimsical, haunting yet delicate.
Burton was even able to intertwine his strengths as an imaginative director to remake the Disney classic Dumbo in 2019. But even though he has mastered Disney worlds, futuristic worlds, and sci-fi worlds, the director still falls short when it comes to diversity and representation in his films.
In 2020, that definitely takes away from his classics, but they’re still worth revisiting to talk about the feats of design, production, and costumes that go into each project. With spooky season among us and a rumoured Beetlejuice 2 on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to look back at his 16 most memorable films.
The long-awaited live-action remake of Dumbo charmed audiences the moment the first trailer dropped. The big-eared, and even bigger hearted elephant that first made audiences teary in the 1941 original is back and realistic — slightly creepier — that ever. That’s the Burton way!
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Burton brings to life Ransom Riggs’ magical and wonderful book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It’s Burton’s most lively adventure film to date, and also his most jubilant.
Burton loves his remakes. The original Dark Shadows television series aired in the late-’60s to early-’70s, so of course Burton had to mirror that iconic decade in his new film by featuring Alice Cooper. The mansion’s opulent decor, muted lights, and cold exterior make it the perfect setting for a vampire’s reintroduction to the world.
Burton first brought Victor Frankenstein, and his Frankenweenie pet Sparky, to life in 1984. More than two decades later, he remade it once again with a little help from Disney. But really, who else could get away with making a 3-D, black-and-white, stop-motion film about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life? Twice? Only Burton.
Alice In Wonderland
There are almost too many visually delightful moments in Burton’s Alice remake. His visions of C.S. Lewis’ characters are even more peculiar than the author could have dreamed. One of the best scenes? The tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter (Depp), of course.
Burton takes us far into the future with 9, which follows a trio of rag-doll figures as they figure out how to save humanity in their postapocalyptic world. In this scene, the characters 9, 7, and 5 meet the final two members to round off their crew: mute twins 3 and 4. Keeping up with Burton’s themes, this seems like a children’s movie, but it’s much deeper and darker than say, Disney’s Wall-E.
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Burton’s vivid remake of another Roald Dahl classic (James and the Giant Peach being the director’s first) is as visually appealing as it gets. While many purists prefer the original film starring a brilliant Gene Wilder as the deranged Mr. Willy Wonka, no one can deny the wild imagination and special effects that went into this version. What better scene to reflect the quality of animation than Violet Beauregarde (AnnaSophia Robb) turning into a monstrous blueberry?
Has a skeleton ever looked as elegant and posh as the Corpse Bride? Burton has given us over a decade’s worth of amazing Halloween costume ideas, and this movie may be his most impressive. This final butterfly scene is as sweet as it is heartbreaking, and — paired with the music — it’s especially reminiscent of the snow dancing scene in Edward Scissorhands.
“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops. And that’s true.” Only Burton could take the chaos of a circus and turn it into a glimpse of true love.
Hello again, Mr. Depp. Burton’s favourite bloke and Christina Ricci team up to illustrate Washington Irving’s particularly gloomy and spooky world of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In this scene, the clever Ichabod Crane (Depp) shows an innocent Katrina Van Tassel (Ricci) how to humanely capture a bird using an optical-illusionary tool called a thaumatrope. With no truly scary scenes, the only thing this lightweight horror movie screams is “Tim Burton!”
Burton’s movies are charming, childlike, dark, and in this case, humorous. Mars Attacks! is a completely bizarre alien intruder movie that boasts a hilarious, starry ensemble: Jack Nicholson, Martin Short, Jack Black, Danny DeVito, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Natalie Portman. The Martian Madame perfectly spoofs the stereotype of the “ideal woman”: all looks, no substance, and a total man-eater. Abandoning his trademark stop-motion for the more budget-friendly CGI, Burton still created a cult-classic film.
James And The Giant Peach
“Family” is an ensemble scene in which the lonely James finally realises this unlikely bunch of bugs and insects could in fact serve as his de facto kin. The touching scene was executed with the help of Henry Selick, a stop-motion director, who also helped Burton bring to life the iconic characters in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Burton created a new world for children and adults, Halloween-lovers and Christmas-obsessives alike. But even within this cinematic gem, Jack’s revelatory “What’s This” montage stands out. The stop-motion animation would become Burton’s trademark for future films like Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is absolutely purr-fect. “Meow.”
Yes, you did get chills over this unconventionally intimate scene between Kim (Winona Ryder) and Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp). The ice flakes showering Kim as Edward chisels away at a sculpture of an angel in her likeness are a sign of true love.
Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice remains one of the best antiheroes of all time. Only Burton could make scenes with this greasy, buggy character dazzling despite the surrounding backdrop of hellish degradation.
Credit: Original article published here.