"I never think of things as dark or light. I've always felt that you couldn't even pull apart light and dark, they're so intertwined."
The first thing I'm going to say about Burton on Burton is, if you're looking for some access into Tim Burton's private life (and, let's face it, who isn't? [everyone]) then you're going to be disappointed- there's no blow by blow account of his meeting and wooing Helena Bonham Carter, no deep dark teenage secrets, and you know what? I prefer it that way. It feels like now, we know waaay too much about people in the public eye, when really all we need to know is about their body of work. Which is what Burton on Burton focuses on excellently.
I mean, I'd be lying if I said that the book revealed nothing about Burton apart from his work, but it's almost like... Because the structure of the book is Burton talking about himself and mainly his work, it's like you get to know him through the context of his work. I mean, in the early years section, you find out that he was an awkward, shy, artistic kid who grew up in suburbia, hating it; but that's nothing you wouldn't have been able to figure out by watching Edward Scissorhands, for example. So yeah, there are a few things like that that the book 'reveals', but mostly it's about Burton's work and how he feels about it, which is fine by me. Perfect, even.
So, that's what you don't get. But what you do get is a lot of information about how Burton envisaged his films, what it was like making them, and the strangely disturbing fact that he doesn't like comic books (doesn't he seem exactly like a kid who was obsessed with comic books? Apparently it's because he could never figure out which box to read, which is just adorable, actually!) Add this to the 2 (TWO!) introductions by Johnny Depp, both of which are extremely articulate and just make me go 'Oh Depp, you talented bastard *sigh*'; and to the fact that it stops juuust before his films started becoming very very similar (except for Sweeney Todd, which is awesome) and Burton on Burton becomes a fairly comprehensive, and above all interesting perspective on Burton's films.
A quick note: I read this as a Tim Burton fan, and a seasoned connoisseur of his movies. Apart from his very early work, I think I've only not seen 2 or 3 of his movies, and so obviously getting a behind the scenes, or better, behind the director's eyes look at them was pretty awesome. If, however, you've only seen a few of his movies and want to see more, then this is maybe not the best book for you because spoilers? They're not exactly avoided. A LOT of prior knowledge is assumed with this book, as I guess it would be since, why would you want to read it if you don't like Tim Burton films?, but it's slightly frustrating when you're given almost the entire plot of Planet of the Apes, which maybe you didn't intend to watch, but now you definitely won't because there's no point. This is an actual example, obviously. So yeah, just be aware of that, people, and don't say I didn't warn you.
Anyway. Basically, the end result of Burton on Burton for me has been 'rewatch ALL THE BURTON.' Now, it's been 2 weeks since I read it and, um, I haven't actually rewatched any of the Burton, but hey! I've been busy. So I now have a weekend plan, to rewatch ALL THE BURTON (it is nearly Halloween and all). I'll report back in due course, obviously.
Until then, I'll leave you with some nuggets of Tim Burton wisdom:
- "I've always felt: how can everybody else want to see it if I don't want to? And if I want to see it, and nobody else wants to, then at least I get to see it. So there's one person who will enjoy it."
- "I loved Batman, the split personality, the hidden person. It's a character I could relate to. Having these two sides, a light side and a dark one, and not being able to resolve them- that's a feeling that's not uncommon."
- "[Growing up in Suburbia] You never felt that there was any attachment to things. So you were either forced to conform and cut out a large portion of your personality, or to develop a very strong interior life which made you feel separate."
- "I find it darker when there's a light-hearted attitude to violence and it's more identifiable than when something is completely removed from reality. I've always had trouble understanding that."
A couple of years ago Tom and I went down to Melbourne and they were holding a Tim Burton retrospective, art collection thingo. It was amazing, it was a collection of his early art from when he was a teeny kid, photos of him, class essays, and then a bunch of sketches from all his projects and costumes and behind the scene stuff. It was fascinating stuff (and so pretty!)ReplyDelete
Duuude, that sounds awesome! I believe that MoMA did something similar, but, you know, NYC is prettty far :(. But yeah, that thing sounds AMAZING!Delete
If it makes you feel better, you probably shouldn't see his Planet of the Apes anyway cos it wasn't that good...ReplyDelete
I want to read this BUT I would like to make sure I at least see all the Burton movies I want to see before reading it to avoid those spoilers. So this gives me a good excuse to get on that
Yeah, I'm totally cool with knowing about what happens in his Planet of the Apes, cause I didn't really intend on seeing it ever. Because, you know, Mark Wahlberg and stuff. *pulls unimpressed face* But yeah, just mentioning that so that people knows.Delete
Duuuude, get on that indeed! What do you have left to see? (The book ends at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so...) I LOVE TIM BURTON
Great review - I'm glad that the book focused on the more professional aspects and I agree that we're getting too much exposure into the personal lives of celebrities nowadays. The "comic book confusion" anecdote made me laugh so hard, how adorable!ReplyDelete
Have you ever read "Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories" by Tim Burton? It's a series of "poems" that he wrote and illustrated on the (mostly humorously morbid) demise of his characters.
Indeed- and the thing is, Tim Burton isn't even a celebrity! I mean, he does the *hard* work, you know? And yessss the comic book thing! I was like awwwwwww bless!Delete
I haven't read Oyster Boy but it is mentioned in this book and I really really want to. And actually, thanks for reminding me I do! *toddles off to add it to amazon wishlist*
Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors. I absolutely love all the weird, quirky, disturbing things that he does. (Which has lead to lots of concern from my mother, especially during a recent rewatching of The Corpse Bride.ReplyDelete
I always wonder how he could go from point a to point b. This sounds like a fascinating read.
Oh gawd, your mum is concerned by you watching Tim Burton? She should see some of the stuff I READ! Hehe. But yeah, quirky and disturbing is about right! Except *ahem* in recent years maybe *ahem ahem*Delete
It really is very good! I recommend getting it if you see it anywhere.
I've weirdly found Tim Burton's DVD commentaries to be some of the least interesting that I've ever listened to. But, that didn't stop me form thinking "There's a Burton on Burton book? Like, *Tim* Burton???" followed by opening Amazon.com in a new tab. I'm guessing he's much better when he has the opportunity to be reflective.ReplyDelete