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The Films of Tim Burton Part Seven

In my previous entry (The Films of Tim Burton Part Six), I covered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.

Next up is 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  I remember being baffled at first when I heard that even Tim Burton was getting involved in the musical craze and helming an adaptation of a Broadway musical.  When I found out what Sweeney Todd was about, all of my worries vanished.  I went to see it on the big screen the day after Christmas (perhaps on odd release period considering the film’s subject matter), and it instantly became my favorite musical (I still listen to the song “Epiphany” on my iPod every now and then).  The film was so good that I went to see it again a month or so later.  This film also marked only the second time that a Tim Burton-directed film would not feature any Danny Elfman music (this time due to the Stephen Sondheim music that was already there).

Sweeney Todd (portrayed by Johnny Depp in an Oscar-nominated performance) returns to London to seek vengeance on Judge Turpin (portrayed by an ever-so-villainous Alan Rickman), the man who wrongly imprisoned him years before so that he could claim Todd’s wife for himself.  This film serves as a kind of wish fulfillment.  Who hasn’t wanted to exact revenge on someone who has severely wronged them in the past?  I know I have, but it wasn’t to the point where that was my only reason to live.  What resonates with me is Sweeney’s sheer will and determination to see it through.  I’m also fascinated that so many of the characters wear “masks” in public and share their true form in private.  Unfortunately, I know what it’s like to do that, so I understand the pain that comes with it, although I doubt that my pain is on the same level as Sweeney Todd’s.

Next up is 2010’s Alice In Wonderland.  I wasn’t surprised when Tim Burton was announced as the director for this new Disney adaptation.  I knew I’d be going on a wild ride when I would go see it, and I was right on the money.  I went to see it twice, both times in 3-D.  I felt the 3-D use was pretty good (it was post-converted rather than shot in 3-D).  Everything in the film was amazing, especially Danny Elfman’s score (I couldn’t believe it when the Oscar nominations were announced and Danny Elfman’s name was missing from the Best Original Score AND Song categories).  Some critics complained that the film was too short or that the story didn’t quite gel.  I disagree with them; the running length was fine and I was able to follow the story without any problems (some critics seemed to have forgotten that Disney’s 1951 animated version was episodic and didn’t have much of a plot, and yet is still an animated classic).

This new version of Alice (portrayed by excellent newcomer Mia Wasikowska) differs from previous incarnations.  This Alice is more grown up, but is a social misfit.  Friends and relatives find her odd (especially for a woman in the 19th century).  This resonates with me (except for the woman part).  Alice runs from the destiny that’s being forced upon her but eventually stops running, realizing that she must forge her own destiny.  My parents tried to push me down on a particular path because they believed they knew what was best for me (and it turned out that they were very, very wrong).  I finally put a stop to it, and decided to make my own destiny.  It hasn’t been easy, but if I stay strong and hold on to hope, I will finally achieve what I want most in life.  Or die trying (these are uncertain times).

And finally, the first of two 2012 films, Dark Shadows.  When it was announced that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp would reunite again for a new adaptation of the TV series Dark Shadows, I felt that this was another project that was well-suited for them.  I was surprised by the mixed critical reaction when the film came out; those who didn’t like it felt that the comedic elements undermined the story.  Knowing that this was a Tim Burton film, I decided to go see it anyway.  It turned out to be so much better than what the critics were saying about it.  It was so good that I went to see it again a week or so later.  Danny Elfman wrote another terrific score.  The excellent cast delivered strong performances all around (particularly Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer).  As for the comedy, the gags worked and DID NOT undermine the story.

For a movie about a cursed 18th century vampire who reawakens in 1972 after two centuries, I was surprised by what resonated with me: fear of love.  Specifically, the fear of losing your beloved and the fear of never being able to love again if your beloved were lost forever.  While I currently don’t have a beloved, there’s no reason that I (or anyone else) wouldn’t have these fears.  Love is a universal feeling; it’s only natural to fear its loss or absence.  The absence of love can be nearly as painful as the loss of love.  The absence of love sounds temporary, and it often can be.  But there are times when absence becomes loss, and the pain can be overwhelming.  For those few, the pain will be too much to endure.  Johnny Depp’s Barnabas Collins finally ended up with his lost love after two centuries of separation.  If we didn’t die, could any of us endure the pain of lost love for that long?

Thank you for joining me through this exploration of Tim Burton’s films.  I hope Frankenweenie is as good as I hope it will be, and if so, you can count on me seeing it at least twice.  See you at the movies on Friday!

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