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Tim Burton Style Analysis

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Everyone has heard at least one fairytale or some classic story as a child, either from books, storytelling, or movies. No doubt most people know stories such as Cinderella or Snow White from Walt Disney, but today we are talking about a different man with his own set of fairy-tales to his name, Tim Burton

Tim Burton started his career in film at Disney for about a year as an animator, working on stories assigned to him until he left to make up stories of his own. These stories would be a mix of lighthearted childhood memories and darker nightmares. Combining classic stories with his own imagination, he created pieces such as Frankenweenie and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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Tim Burton has made a definite mark in the film industry as a director, branding his own uniqueness into every movie he makes. You can see it in the similarity in actors, makeup, storylines and the cinematic techniques he uses.

In his movies, Tim Burton often uses low-key lighting to bring his darker influences into the scenes. For example in his film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he keeps the lighting in the Bucket family’s home to a minimum by darkening corners and only having a few lamps. Taking away any warm, fairytale feelings and replacing them with a harsher reality. We see especially when Charlie enters his home how he is swallowed by the shadows, contrasting strongly to the openness of the outdoors just moments before. He does this again in Edward Scissorhands, shrouding Edward’s mansion in cobwebs and shadows, giving it an eerie feeling even though the place itself is not hostile. This is essential to show his audience that despite the fact that he’s telling a story for children, there is still a dark and spooky element to it all. Overall, the way that Burton uses low-key lighting in all his films states the fact that he is an expert in horror.

Tim Burton’s influences were all popular children’s story writers, and traces of their styles can be seen in Burton’s films, but Dr. Seuss especially in his films Vincent and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In these films, Suess’ effects the non-diegetic sound that Tim Burton uses in his scenes. An example would be in the constant rhyming in Vincent. Throughout the film the narrator can be heard reciting through the boy’s life as if it was in a poem. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Burton has the Oompa Loompas singing in catchy little rhymes and rhythms, highlighting the importance of the scene in a more extravagant way. Tim Burton uses this unique non-diegetic sound to subtly show his childlike personality and influences in his movies.

Tim Burton has directed himself into movie history with his distinctive use of cinematic techniques such as low-key lighting and non-diegetic sound. They show the audience his grisly and mischievous side, but also his humorous and fantastical side. They are able to spark imagination and wonder in people of all ages, whether they are of the age that they believe in fairytales or not.     

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