Research: Tim Burton

Tim Burton started his career as an animator for Walt Disney. In this short interview, he confesses that he was not good at drawing Disney characters, and was not the greatest at keeping to the certain style required of him. Afterwards, he left Disney and began to execute his own visionary of blending fantasy with horror- starting with just “doodles whilst being on the phone”.

I noticed that Burton is a distinctive character himself- wearing stripy socks, a slightly large suit, with messy hair. He seems like a very wacky, witty person and it just highlights his brand of being eccentric.

Burton spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (especially films with Vincent Price). Then, as if he had incredible luck,  Disney gave him the opportunity to make Vincent (1982), an animated short film about a boy who wanted to be just like Vincent Price.

The animation was a critical success and won several awards. This piece is a brilliant reflection of Burton himself, as Vincent is the tortured boy/outsider/artist. I loved the dramatic switches between Vincent as a normal boy in contrast to his indulgence in nightmares and horrific fantasies, such as dipping his aunt in wax, burying his beautiful wife alive, or his dog Abacrombie transforming into a zombie. Burton’s enthusiasm for a Gothic style has caused some critics to argue that it’s too scary for children, however I’d say this Vincent is a freakishly cute character. The large eyes can be ghoulish, yet somehow endearing. Other iconic Burton features of stripes and pale skin are found here too, making Vincent the root of later Burton films.

The narrator, Vincent Price himself clearly enjoys telling this story, just like he understands those moments as a child where we would just daydream about who we could be in future. The stop-motion animation is very fluid, considering how the crew was tiny with a low-budget. No matter what you have, as little or none, it would not lessen the strength of your ideas and your creativity.

Corpse Bride, 2005

Burton’s Corpse Bride is a sweet tale of lost love. In the time period when most animations constantly looked bright and colourful, “Corpse Bride” utilises two palettes, and not in the way we would expect.The living world is portrayed with dim monochromatic tones, whilst the “dead” are depicted with incredible vibrancy, making it seem more “spirited” than the actual, living world. Perhaps this was Burton’s way of allowing children to become familiar with skeletal characters, to see them as fun instead of scary. The movie’s purpose is to make Emily a figure of sympathy, not horror, therefore breaking the assumption of the “corpse” being an evil, disturbing character. Like Vincent, the Corpse Bride was made with stop-motion animation, achieving an absolutely effortless, flowing film without computer generation.

I want to create my character in a Tim Burton style, mainly because I love the creepy, ghoulish effect that could combine with the girly, doll-like character of mine.



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