Tim Burton's fantasy-land on display at LACMA
As creepy, spindly or deranged as Tim Burton's creations can be, there is always an element of amiability behind them. Jack Skellington, with his stick-thin legs and sunken in eye sockets, has become one of the most beloved cartoon characters ever created. The loneliness and longing of Skellington's character resonated with many, and made him loveable The Tim Burton collection, now on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has everything from legal-pad sketches from Burton's personal collection to the actual outfit created by Colleen Atwood and worn by Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands.
Burton's movies, drawings and shorts often have themes relating to being an outsider, or the difficulty of fitting into an environment that doesn't readily accept you. Edward, from Edward Scissorhands, has a very blatant physical deformity, which keeps him from being able to interact with people, and the movie revolves around his overwhelming desire to connect with those he's so isolated from.
The exhibit reminds people of how extensive Burton's career has been. Big Fish, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride, Sleepy Hollow, James and the Giant Peach, Batman, Batman Forever, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Pee-wee's Big Adventure are the titles of the many major motion picture films that Burton has directed or produced.
Burton has the continuous support of some of Hollywood's most creative minds. Danny Elfman always composes the score to Burton's films, and the film's characters are often costumed by Colleen Atwood. Burton's success is aided by these two equally ingenious creators.
Burton accredits Dr. Seuss, Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl as his influences, a very believable attribution when thinking about Burton and Dahl's support of underdogs, and the Poe-esque darkness to Burton's monsters. He was also greatly inspired by German expressionist films and Japanese monster movies like Godzilla.
According to an interview with Burton in LACMA's audio tour, he remembers learning to draw from Dr. Seuss. "I remember taking his stories, like One Fish, Two Fish, and continuing to draw fish because I like it and I just wanted to keep the story going, " says Burton.
His personal collection makes up a huge portion of the exhibit, and really sheds light on his prolific nature. Even 8 1/2 by 11 inch images like Mothera, a piece from Burton's display at LACMA, carry a deeper meaning than just a doodle or a sketch normally would.
One room of the exhibit is 100 percent black lit, with eerie Danny Elfman-like music playing throughout, walls covered in neon Burton-creatures. An oversized, creepier version of a child's mobile sits in the middle of the room, and despite the chilling nature and the darkness of the room, it's strangely comforting.
"I want it all in my room!" says LACMA patron, Kimberly Black. "But I'm worried I would get nightmares, too," she added. His work is awesome and unearthly, friendly and dark, a constant combination of things you wouldn't normally think to combine.
Burton created alternate realities and imaginative new worlds to escape urban, monotonous places like the city he grew up in, Burbank, Cailf., and to find somewhere he knew he would fit in. He might have been unaware of it at the beginning of his career, but Burton was helping more than just himself escape. Millions of people have found solace in the weird that Burton has made so cool.