Tim Burton’s Unique Films Style

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Growing up I was always obsessed with watching movies, whether it was scary, romantic or animated I would watch it. One film director whose style is very different and unique and was always a favorite of mine is Tim Burton. Tim is known for being a gothic style like director whose films are always very out of the box, whimsical and eccentric horror. Tim Burton has had a lot of popular movies throughout the years that I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with. It was really hard to slim down all the movie choices to three because there were so many good movies that he has produced and although we can’t talk about every movie that this creative has produced, we can talk about the three that are my favorite, Edward Scissor Hands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Each of these films have a unique theme to them making each other different in its own way. Throughout the paper I’ll explain some of the characteristics of each film & the common elements these three films.

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Edwards Scissorhands was made in 1990 starring Johnny Depp and was one of the first Tim Burton films I remember seeing. I believe the whole concept and theme of the film was that Edward wanted to fit into a society of “norms”. In the beginning of the movie Burtons “demonization” of suburbia is made apparent with a point of view shot which pans all the houses in the suburbia showing bright pastel colors and appearing very similar to each other, making it look very cookie cutter perfect, compared to the big black scary castle on the hill looking down at the houses.

Tim made it very clear that Edward was different from everybody else. With the help from the amazing costume and makeup team Burton was able to achieve a look that made Edward look very outlandish, from the scissor hands to the cuts on his body that was made from himself. Burton uses different camera angles to help communicate with the audience the concept of isolation that Edwards felt, an example would be when Peg the Avon lady views the castle through the side mirror of her car, Burton uses a long-shot technique to emphasize on the house and create a sense of unreality and or a sense of suspense, wondering who and what is going on in the house on hill.

Another film is The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is one of favorites films and has a lot of unique elements that put together the film. Comparing Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissor hands would be hard because one is animated and one is not but one element that is similar is the gothic style that Burton is known for. Pete Kozachik is known for his amazing visual effects contributed to the film and he was also responsible for the effects in Corpse Bride. Nightmare Before Christmas was nominated for an academy award for best visual effects, which was a first for an animated film.

A fun fact about the movie, Danny Elfman was worried that the character Oogie Boogie would be considered racist by the NAACP, which ended up coming true, however he stated that he was inspired by Betty Boop and had nothing to do with race. The Night Before Christmas took 3 years to complete. With the use of stop-motion it requires a lot of time, so long that shooting began before the script was even completed. When creating the moment Jack first discovered Christmas, the popular scene “What’s This”, shooting was 24 frames per second. Meaning the creators had to create different and unique motions for 110,000 frames total. One minute of the movie took a week to shoot.

Last but not least is The Corpse Bride. Similar to The Night Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride was created using stop motion. Fun fact this movie was also the “first stop-motion feature from Burton that was distributed by Warner Bros, Pictures.” Similar to most of the Burton Films the Corpse Bride is a musical dark comedy. Each Burton films seems to have some kind of love interest, in Edward Scissor Hands he was in love with Kim Boggs, in The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack was in love with Sally, and in The Corpse Emily is more so obsessed with Victor who is in love with someone else. When reading facts about the film I read that Burton did an interview and spoke about the differences between directing the Corpse Bride and The Night Before Christmas. He states that “The difference on that was that one I had designed completely. It was a very completed package in my mind. I felt like it was there. I felt more comfortable with it. With this, it was a bit more organic. It was based on an old folk tale.” Something interesting that I also realized it that Johnny Depp was also in Edward Scissor hands and he was the voice of Victor in the Corpse Bride.

When it comes to Burton’s films he is genius, he creates fascinating films with darkness but also puts a twist of dark comedy into his films making it not too scary for kids. In all his movies if you pay attention to details you realize that most of his characters have dark sunken eyes, pales skin, and really dark colors sticking to the gothic theme he is known for. Researching Burton I’ve realized that he is a firm believer in “being different isn’t a bad thing.” Burton is very peculiar with the style of his films, every Burton film I’ve watched has had similar elements but never similar plot lines or themes. Doing research on Burton has showed me that it ok to think outside of the box and somethings may not look perfect but sometimes that uniqueness is what brings originality to whatever you are creating. Majority of popular movies today were by Tim Burton and has open doors for other creatives who may think differently or see things at another perspective.    

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Tim Burton's Unique Films Style. (2021, Apr 04). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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