Unofficial and unauthorised, Ian Nathan’s TIM BURTON: The Iconic Film Maker and His Work is a handsome and illustriously illustrated study of the creator of Frankenweenie and Edward Scissorhands, to name just two iconic characters conjured by one of the most curious movie directors in contemporary cinema.
In his introduction, Nathan writes that, partly, the endeavour of the book is to describe the advent of the adjective Burtonesque. “If you use the word Burtonesque any film fan will know exactly what you are saying.”
Undeniably, there is a distinctive look to Tim Burton’s films, and like all great cineasts, image takes primary over narrative. Ian Nathan has had the great good sense of papering this book with images, and let his subject do the heavy lifting, sometimes in his own words, sometimes by his colleagues and collaborators.It is illustrative that Burton’s two Oscar nominations have been for animated features – Frankenweenie and The Corpse Bride, for Nathan maintains that “You could take any frame from any of his films and know that it came from his singular mind: Gothic, whimsical, eerie, strange, haunting and bursting with detail. Like animated films, only real – or real films, only animated.”
If nothing else, this beautifully produced pictorial is a graphic reminder of the hits and misses of a career that has soared, spiraled, smacked and survived.
From the juvenile exuberance and nutty naivety of Pee Wee Herman in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure on to Beetlejuice – from the geeky to the freaky deaky, one might say, – and through to big studio pics like Batman and Planet of the Apes, with forays back to smaller films, and a contract with Disney, Burton’s career has been dizzying, to some disappointing, yet most harbouring the happy horrors that curtail the downright dismissive.
Allegiances and partnerships – Johnny Depp, Michael Keaton, Paul Rubens, Helena Bonham Carter and Eva Green – are duly examined as are the themes that unite all the works.
Analysis and appreciation through the aperture of the camera accompanied by some pithy text make TIM BURTON: THE ICONIC FILM MAKER & HIS WORK irresistible reading for fans or, indeed, anyone interested in design, or how movies are made.
The gorgeous colour and black and white photos alone are worth the fifty buck price tag.
TIM BURTON: THE ICONIC FILM MAKER AND HIS WORK by Ian Nathan is published in hardback and slip case by Aurum Press.