- Category : Film - Director
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sleeping Phoenix 3
Timothy "Tim" William Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an Academy Award-nominated American film director, writer and designer known for his off-beat and quirky style.
Especially in his stop-motion animated films, he is known for the exaggerated style of his characters, which still retain their serious, humanlike characteristics. He first came to note directing the Paul Reubens film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, which was followed by the blockbuster success of Batman in 1989.
Following which he continued to make blockbusters as well as smaller dramas that continue to study loneliness in a style influenced by Gothic fairy tales, Tim Burton is also known for his making dark, dreary movie scenes very scenic.
Burton was born in Burbank, California, the first of two sons to Bill Burton and Jean Erickson. His year of birth is sometimes mistakenly given as 1960, most notably in his own books, "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy" and the picture book of "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Burton described his childhood self as quirky, self-absorbed and highly imaginative. As a child growing up in Burbank, he staged an axe murder with his brother to scare the neighbors, prompting them to call the police. He repeated the prank again with similar results. He found home life and school difficult, often escaping the reality of everyday life by watching horror and low budget films, to which he would later pay tribute in his biography of Edward D. Wood Jr.. Another film figure of importance in Burton's childhood is Vincent Price, whose filmography would deeply influence the upcoming director's career. He was inspired early on by Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion films.
After high school, he won a Disney scholarship to attend the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. He studied animation for three years. Burton's first job in animation was working as a cel painter on Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings. Burton was then hired by the Walt Disney Studios as an animator apprentice. Burton's job was to draw for The Fox and the Hound, but he was dissatisfied with the artistic direction of the movie. He later commented on the refusal of Disney to use his design for The Fox and the Hound because his designs made the characters, in opposition to Disney's desires, "look like roadkill." Burton was not happy during his Disney period, but it was during this period that he wrote and drew the poem and illustrations that would be the basis for his celebrated The Nightmare Before Christmas.
In 1982, Burton made his first short, Vincent, a six-minute stop-motion film about a young boy who fantasizes that he is his (and Burton's) screen idol Vincent Price, with Price himself providing narration. This was followed by the live-action short Frankenweenie, starring Barret Oliver, Daniel Stern and Shelley Duvall (an early supporter of Burton's work). Shot in black and white and inspired by James Whale's Frankenstein, Frankenweenie features a boy who reanimates his dog Sparky who was hit by a car. Although the film won praise at film festivals, Disney was concerned that the film was too scary for children and, not knowing what to do with it, shelved the film. (Frankenweenie later received a video release in 1992).
Although Burton's work had yet to see wide release, he began to attract the attention of the film industry. Actor/producer Griffin Dunne, approached Burton to direct After Hours (1985), a comedy about a bored word processor who survives a crazy night in SoHo that had already been passed over by Martin Scorsese. However, when financing for The Last Temptation of Christ fell through, Burton bowed out of the project out of respect for Scorsese.
Not long after, actor Paul Reubens saw Frankenweenie and chose Burton to direct the cinematic spinoff of his popular character Pee-wee Herman, who had gained popularity with a successful stage show at the Roxy, which had been turned into an HBO special. The film, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985), was made on a budget of $7 million and grossed more than $40 million at the box office. Burton, a fan of the eccentric musical group Oingo Boingo, asked vocalist/songwriter Danny Elfman to provide the music for the film. Since then, Elfman has provided the score for all but two Burton films, Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd
After directing episodes for the revitalized TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, Burton received his next big project. Beetlejuice (1988), a supernatural comedy about a young couple forced to cope with life after death, as well as a family of pretentious yuppies invading their treasured New England home. Starring Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, and featuring Michael Keaton as the famously repulsive demon Betelgeuse, the film grossed about $80 million on a relatively low budget. The film also snagged a Best Makeup Design Oscar.
Main articles: Batman (1989 film) and Tim Burton's Batman universe
Burton's ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives and he received his first big budget film Batman (1989). The mega-budget production, based in London, was plagued with problems. Burton repeatedly clashed with the film's producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber, but the most notable debacle involved casting. Burton wanted to cast Michael Keaton from his previous film as Batman, despite Keaton's average physique, inexperience with action films, and reputation as a comic actor. Although Burton won out in the end, the furor over the casting provoked enormous fan animosity, to the extent where Warner Brothers' share price slumped. Burton had considered it ridiculous to cast a bulked-up he-man as Batman, insisting that the Caped Crusader should be an ordinary (albeit fabulously wealthy) man who dressed up in an elaborate bat costume to frighten criminals. Burton cast Jack Nicholson as the Joker (Tim Curry being his second choice) in a move that helped assuage fans' fears, as well as attracting older audiences not as interested in a superhero film. When the film opened in June 1989, it was backed by the biggest marketing and merchandising campaign in film history at the time, and became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing well over $400 million worldwide and $250 million in the U.S. alone (numbers not adjusted for inflation). The film proved to be a huge influence on future superhero films, which eschewed the bright, all-American heroism of Superman for a grimmer look and characters with more psychological depth. The stylized gothic look of Gotham City ended up being adopted as the look of the city in the comic books.
Main article: Edward Scissorhands
In 1990, Burton co-wrote (with Caroline Thompson) and directed Edward Scissorhands, re-uniting with Winona Ryder from the "Beetlejuice" days. Johnny Depp, a teen idol at the end of the 1980s due primarily to his work on the hit TV series 21 Jump Street, was cast in the title role of Edward, who was the creation of an eccentric and old fashioned inventor (played by Vincent Price, in his last appearance on screen before his death). Edward looked human, but was left with scissors in the place of hands due to the untimely death of his creator. Set in suburbia (the film was shot in Florida), the film is largely seen as Burton's autobiography of his own childhood in the suburb of Burbank. Price at one point is said to have remarked, "Tim is Edward." Johnny Depp wrote a similar comment in the foreword to Mark Salisbury's book, Burton on Burton, regarding his first meeting with Burton over the casting of the film. Edward is considered Burton's best movie by many fans and critics. Following this collaboration with Burton, Depp went on to star in Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and as a voice actor in Corpse Bride.
Main article: Batman Returns
Although Warner Brothers had declined to make the more personal Scissorhands even after the success of Batman, Burton finally agreed to direct the sequel after Warner Bros. said "What if this one is more a Tim Burton film" and that got Burton interested; which explains the films darkness. on the condition that he would be granted total control. The result was Batman Returns which featured Michael Keaton returning as the Dark Knight, and a new triad of villains: Danny De Vito (as the Penguin), Michelle Pfeiffer (as Catwoman), and Christopher Walken. Darker and considerably more personal than its predecessor, concerns were raised that the film was too scary for children. Audiences were even more uncomfortable at the film's overt sexuality, personified by the sleek, fetish-inspired styling of Catwoman's costume. One critic remarked, "too many villains spoiled the Batman," highlighting Burton's decision to focus the storyline more on the villains instead of Batman (though this was somewhat true of the previous film). The film also polarized the fanbase, with some loving the darkness and quirkiness, while others deeming it not true to the core elements of the source material. Despite all these controversies, Tim Burton did many changes to the Penguin; the same element would be applied to the Penguin in both comics and television. He turned the ordinary man into a freak of nature that resembled a penguin with webbed, flipper-like fingers. Likewise, the Penguin's long nose was also edited by Burton to resemble that of a penguin's beak. Batman Returns grossed $160 million in the USA (number not adjusted for inflation) which, while a big success, was much less than expected.
Burton then went on to do preliminary work on the third installment in the franchise. Val Kilmer was cast as the title character (after Michael Keaton turned down the offer to reprise his previous role after Burton's departure from the project), Chris O'Donnell was cast as Robin, Jim Carrey was cast as the Riddler (after Robin Williams turned down the part), Tommy Lee Jones was cast as Two-Face, and Nicole Kidman was cast as love interest Dr. Chase Meridian. Warner Brothers ultimately threw out Burton after they realized the tone of the film was to be similar to Batman Returns. Burton left the Batman franchise (but returned as a producer for the Joel Schumacher–directed Batman Forever (1995), a movie which he said had a title "like a tattoo you get when you're on drugs").
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Main article: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Next, Burton wrote and produced (but did not direct, due to schedule constraints on Batman Returns) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), originally meant to be a children's book in rhyme. The film was directed by Henry Selick and written by Michael McDowell and Caroline Thompson, based on Burton's original story, world and characters. The film continues to have a wide cult following. Burton collaborated with Selick again for James and the Giant Peach (1996), which Burton co-produced. The movie helped to generate a renewed interest in stop-motion animation.
A deleted scene from The Nightmare Before Christmas features a group of vampires playing hockey on the frozen pond with the decapitated head of producer Tim Burton. The head was later replaced with a jack-o-lantern.
Main article: Ed Wood (film)
His next film, Ed Wood (1994), was of a much smaller scale, depicting the life of Ed Wood Jr, a filmmaker sometimes called "the worst director of all time." Starring Johnny Depp in the title role, the film is a homage to the low-budget sci-fi and horror films of Burton's childhood, and handles its comical protagonist and his motley band of collaborators with surprising fondness and sensitivity. Due to creative squabbles during the making of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Danny Elfman declined to score Ed Wood, and the assignment went to Howard Shore. While a commercial failure at the time of its release, Ed Wood was well received by critics and has since gathered a considerable fanbase, as well as helped revive the public interest for the films of Ed Wood Jr.
Main article: Mars Attacks!
Elfman and Burton reunited for Mars Attacks! (1996). Based on a popular science fiction trading card series, the film was a hybrid of 1950s' sci-fi flicks and 1970s' all-star disaster flicks -- an anarchic cacophony of clever satire and goofy mayhem. Coincidence made it an inadvertent spoof of the blockbuster, Independence Day, made around the same time and released five months earlier. Although the film boasted an all-star cast, including Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rod Steiger, among others, the film was panned by American critics and mostly ignored by domestic audiences. It was however more successful abroad, and later managed to gather a domestic fan base from its television airings and DVD release.
Main article: Sleepy Hollow (film)
Sleepy Hollow released in the autumn of 1999, was a return to vintage Burton, with a supernatural setting, unique sets and another offbeat performance by Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, now a detective with an interest in forensic science rather than the schoolteacher of Washington Irving's original tale. An enthusiastic fan of the old horror movies from English company Hammer Film Productions, Burton paid homage to them with Hollow. A host of Burton regulars appeared in supporting roles (Michael Gough, Ian McDiarmid, Jeffrey Jones and Christopher Walken, among others) and Christina Ricci was cast as Katrina van Tassel. Mostly well-received by critics, and with a special mention to Elfman's Gothic score, the film won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as two BAFTAs for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. A box office success, Sleepy Hollow was also a turning point for Burton. Along with change in his personal life (separation from Lisa Marie), Burton changed radically in style for his next project, leaving the haunted forests and colorful outcasts behind to go on to directing Planet of the Apes which, as Burton had repeatedly noted, was "not a remake" of the earlier film.
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: and Other Stories
Main article: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: and Other Stories
His book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: and Other Stories was published in 1996. The collection of verse is about misfit children such as Oyster Boy, Match Girl, Stainboy (who used to have his own Flash cartoon series on Atomfilms.com), the Girl Who Turned into a Bed, and other such outcasts. The book was published by the publishing company Faber and Faber, which also published the original artwork of Sleepy Hollow in 1999.
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes was a commercial success, grossing $68 million in its opening weekend. It was however panned by critics and widely considered inferior to the original. The main criticism was that the movie went for a more watered down "popcorn" feel than the dark, cerebral and nihilistic tone of the 1968 film. The film was a significant departure from Burton's usual style, and there was much subsequent debate about whether the film was really Burton's, or if he was just a "hired gun" who did what he was asked. Burton reportedly clashed with the studio during the whole making of the film, once going as far as abruptly leaving the set for the day. There were also many reports about last minute changes in the movie. Despite the commercial success of the movie and an ending that clearly suggested the possibility of a sequel, apparently there are no intentions from the studio or Burton to make another Apes movie.
Burton went on to direct Big Fish (2003) which received four Golden Globe nominations, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Corpse Bride (2005), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. Charlie and Bride were Burton's most critically-praised movies in years. Charlie was a huge box office success that made over $207 million domestically alone. Depp's looks, voice and mannerisms as the Factory's owner Willy Wonka drew many comparisons to pop star Michael Jackson and alternative rock star Marilyn Manson, even though the actor claims his main inspiration came from hosts of old TV shows for children.
On June 13, 2006, Burton announced that he would be postponing his work on Believe It or Not to concentrate on the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Burton's regular, Johnny Depp, has been signed on to play the murderous barber. On June 19th, 2007 Burton announced that he was withdrawing from the Believe It or Not film.
On February 5, 2007, Burton started principal production on Sweeney Todd, from a screenplay by John Logan. The film stars Depp as Sweeney Todd, Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin, and Sacha Baron Cohen as Adolfo Pirelli. Timothy Spall also plays Beatle Bamford.(UTC)The Dreamworks/Warner Bros. production will be released in December 2007.
In Issue 1162 of KERRANG, it was reported that Tim Burton wants to do a movie based on the lives of Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Manson . "I'm fascinated by Dita and Marilyn, Their life is like a Brothers Grimm fairytale," says Burton.
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is another plan for Burton around 2009. Another stop-motion is a possibility.
In 1989, Burton married German artist Lena Gieseke. They divorced shortly after the filming of Batman Returns. Burton was engaged to Lisa Marie from 1992-2001. Currently, he is engaged to Helena Bonham Carter (since 2001). They have a son, Billy-Ray Burton, born in October 2003, whose godfather is Burton's friend Johnny Depp. Bonham Carter has appeared in all of Burton's films since 2001. Contrary to what some believe, the couple do not live in separate homes in London connected by a tunnel. When Bonham Carter was questioned on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross about the reports, she revealed they live in two houses connected by a hallway and that she does use a separate bedroom, as Burton is prone to snoring.
Bonham Carter has been quoted as saying that the reason for Burton's unique vision and style of directing was because she believed him to have Asperger Syndrome, mistakenly confused with a mild form of autism. She said that it helped to inspire his creative fuel, and was in no way a hindrance, but in fact was a great asset.
Burton reportedly remains estranged from his brother Daniel. His father, Bill, a former minor league baseball player, died in October 2000 and his Mother, Jean, passed away in March 2002 (Salisbury 2006).
In a February 2006 interview, Burton debunked rumors of Beetlejuice 2, Edward Scissorhands 2, and The Nightmare Before Christmas 2. In that same interview, he also expressed interest in an Edgar Allan Poe film in the near future.
Burton is currently in the process of filming Sweeney Todd which will star Johnny Depp (as Sweeney Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (as Mrs. Lovett), Alan Rickman (as Judge Turpin), and "Borat" actor, Sacha Baron Cohen (as Signor Adolfo Pirelli). "Sweeney Todd" is set to be released in December 2007.