And these shorts just keep getting better.
Just when I think I’ve found my favorite early works, another comes along to take its rightful place at the top of the food chain.
First, is Burton’s stop-motion masterpiece, VINCENT.
This is a strikingly-shot and handsomely-written film spoken in a verse-style that appears to be an autobiographical script of what one would surmise Mr. Burton grew up wanting to be.
The young man involved describes how he grew up wanting to be Vincent Price and how he has different ideas of things he wants to do compared, I assume, to what the status quo says to do.
Enough from me. Enjoy this, the first Tim Burton film. A true masterpiece of lighting, animation and writing.
“You’re not Vincent Price, you’re Vincent Malloy. You’re not tormented or insane, you’re just a young boy.”
Why this has not become a legendary children’s story, I don’t know.
**Interesting fact: Burton’s girlfriend, an executive at Disney, produced this.
The next I could only find in three parts:
His first major foray into directing, with big names and production values, but still an early film, was FRANKENWEENIE.
Filled again, with stark blacks and whites and harsh shafts of light in a world that, rather than seemingly shot on a backlot, seems to exist perfectly in that Leave It To Beaver world where if you visited the backlot, you would think you were intruding on a neighborhood you shouldn’t be disturbing.
This is, once again, a masterpiece of the psychological underpinning of what it takes to be a child in a world that shows how random terrible things can happen…and what some children think they may be able to do to reverse the awful fates that befall some things.
No doubt, Burton just wondered what it would be like to bring back a dead dog, but he added so much more depth to that simple idea.
Dare I say, I feel, after viewing these two films, Burton has fallen far off his initial brilliance as he made his way through the studio system. What types of movies could this man have made had he stayed independent?
My love of Batman aside, that movie now seems like a large wart of a blemish on his career, a steam-rolled contract hit fostered by those two wunderkind of the Sony system who, it seems, fooled everyone in a town where what you can say and get means more than what you can do. But who am I to question men who make so much money in a very profitable business.
And please don’t get angry, but after these films, Burton strikes me as the dark version of Steven Spielberg, making pitch-prefect representations of the dark side of suburbia, what kids think of when they think about what they wouldn’t want to tell anyone.
All of that aside, this is a great movie, a sign of a brilliant talent, and a very enjoyable watch, with an ending that brings child and adult together in the implication of Burton saying that no one is immune to child’s impulses.