March 19, 2011


Tim Burton Exhibit at TIFFYou wouldn't normally compare Tim Burton with Picasso and Matisse. Yet only they drew larger audiences the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Popular didn't mean great but here it does. The Tim Burton Exhibit is currently in Toronto at TIFF until April 17, 2011.

Tim Who?

Tim is primarily a movie director. Even if you're not familiar with him, you've probably seen at least of one of:
  • mainstream: Batman Returns, Mars Attacks!, Pee-wee's Big Adventure
  • quirky: Beetlejuice, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Frankenweenie, Vincent
  • adaptations: Alice In Wonderland, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, James And The Giant Peach, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, The Planet Of The Apes
I've probably seen all his movies but didn't know much about him. I now have a deeper appreciation of Tim's accomplishments and abilities. The exhibit made me a fan by showing his art in the course of a couple of hours. Much of the information is probably available online. Yet a curated exhibit has much more impact.


Tim Burton - Romeo and Juliet (MoMA)Tim has been honing his skills all his life. How wonderful that he kept copies of things he did in high school (or maybe his parents did the archiving). There's a blotter with his doodling. He listed over 50 titles for possible movies. He enumerated the 13 forms of humour he'd seen. He penned a variation of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. He wrote the unpublished Zlig children's storybook and got a written response from Disney (interesting but too similar to Dr. Seuss). And that's just as a teenager.

When you see his range of movies, what can you say? As with Roald Dahl, he manages to appeal to children and adults. His material is PG-rated.


Tim and Walt Disney seem like an odd pairing. The exhibit clearly shows the connection. Tim was accepted at CalArt, which Disney started. He's continued to work with some fellow students (such as a classmate who made 3D models).

I didn't realize the important role of poetry in Tim's life. His handwriting is surprisingly readable. He wrote to Jonny Depp about including a funny line about cannibalism in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Johnny agreed. That note gives insight into Tim. He wasn't commanding. Instead, he asked Johnny if the line would fit with his character of Willy Wonka and add to the film. Here's the final version:
Everything in this room is eatable, even I'm eatable! But that's called cannibalism my dear children and is in fact frowned upon in most societies. — Willy Wonka
I didn't realize that Tim is also an artist. He draws very well. He's had a dark sense of humour throughout his life. Stainboy is an interesting six part Internet series that spun off "tragic toys for girls and boys".

When you see Tim today, you can see the path he's taken. What a pleasant surprise that's he's also commercially successful and has such a diverse following.

If you like Tim's work, do visit the exhibit.


Podcast Episode 109 (4:29)

direct download | Internet Archive page | iTunes (new)

PS After your visit, do share your thoughts.

No comments: