The Return of Tim Burton
The stylistic director and producer Tim Burton will be making his return in 2019 with the live-action adaptation of the beloved animation Dumbo. Burton is most infamously known for his eerie and gothic styles as seen through Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. It was from early 90s to 2000s that marked probably the best years for Burton before both his style and prominence started to wane. Movies post-2005 with Burton did not have the same energy and magic that he produced in his most notable movies (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Big Fish, etc.), and while his style could be detected in them, they were not as unique and stylized as his early movies. Although now with Burton’s involvement with Disney’s Dumbo and the rumored Beetlejuice 2, the creative direction and style of Burton may be returning to the limelight once more.
So, what should you look for in Dumbo and future movies by Burton that made him a stapled artistic filmmaker?
While Burton did not direct The Nightmare Before Christmas, but rather credited as writer and producer, the gothic tones and imagery connected to Burton was still just as prominent. Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice, Lydia, encapsulates this Victorian Gothic style that Burton absolutely loves to have in his movies. Michael Keaton’s character as Beetlejuice in the movie embraces Burton’s dark and eerie style through his appearance and his performance. Corpse Bride screams Tim Burton as the animated fantasy is set in a village in the Victorian era. Even in his less favorable movies, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Burton’s gothic style is still present.
Through the teaser released for Dumbo, Burton’s gothic style isn’t as blatant as Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride, but is more subtly seen in the costume and set design in those brief scenes in the circus. If anything, Dumbo emulates the style and magic of Big Fish. If a Tim Burton movie doesn’t have this strong gothic style, then you look to the exaggerated proportions and fantastical elements to know that you’re watching a Tim Burton movie.
FANTASY, MAGIC, AND SOMETHING BIG
When you look at a Tim Burton movie (barring his time with Batman in the 90s), you look for an element of magic or fantasy. With Big Fish, you get a breath of a new style by Tim Burton— a more adventurous movie with warmer tones than any of his previous movies. Big Fish is this fantastical and wild tale embarked by Ewan McGregor’s character, Edward Bloom, that is filled with giants, witches, conjoined twins, and a big fish. The movie moves between past and present with an older Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) on his deathbed, recounting his adventure to his disbelieving son, Will Bloom (Billy Crudup). Big Fish is one of Burton’s best work with the touches of romance, fantasy, magic, and adventure.
If you’re still unsure if it is a Tim Burton movie, then look to the exaggerated proportions. Obviously we have Big Fish and Big Eyes as examples of this added style of Burton, but look at Alice in Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts, played by Helen Bonham-Carter, is exaggerated in its size to her small figure. Then there’s the television room scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the bug-eye goggles and the Oompa Loompas, and then remember when Violet blows up like a big blueberry? Yeah. Now, Burton is taking on Dumbo and the beloved elephant with its big ears!
So, if you still don’t find these elements in a Tim Burton movie then you look at the cast.
TIM BURTON’S FAVORITES
Johnny Depp and Burton’s former partner Helena Bonham-Carter are favorites of Tim Burton to cast. Burton first casted Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands, a tale of a lonely man with, well, scissors for hands who falls in love with Kim played by Winona Ryder. It’s basically the Beauty and the Beast tale, but with a man with scissors for hands and a more bittersweet ending. In total, Depp has been in nine of Tim Burton movies, and most of them being leading roles. Alongside Johnny Depp is usually Helena Bonham-Carter.
Helena Bonham-Carter is seen beside Johnny Depp in almost all Tim Burton’s movies— she might be more famously remembered for her role as the Queen of Red Hearts in Alice in Wonderland directed by Burton. For the more gothic lovers of Burton, they’ll remember Bonham-Carter in role as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, or her voice of the Corpse Bride (but outside of Tim Burton, Helena Bonham-Carter will always be the iconic Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter).
Even though these two iconic actors aren’t going to be casted in Burton’s Dumbo, Michael Keaton, who has been in six of Tim Burton movies— the more successful one being Beetlejuice— will be leading as Vandermere in Dumbo. Michael Keaton, and hopefully Winona Ryder, will be returning to another Tim Burton movie with the rumored Beetlejuice 2.
THE REVIVAL OF TIM BURTON?
As Dumbo is set to release on March 29, 2019, there is hope for the magical return of Tim Burton to the limelight. Dumbo, an already favorite Disney classic, will be reimagined through the quirky and fantastical mind of Tim Burton, and will hopefully bring Burton back to his golden days. Similarly, the rumored Beetlejuice 2 will further bring back his Victorian Gothic style that has been sorely missed on the big screen. The revival of Burton in 2019 and his Burtonesque style has fans eagerly waiting for what magical adventurous tale Burton will create next.