With the release of Disney’s latest live action adaptation, Dumbo, hitting cinemas this week, it seems to be the perfect time to take a look back on the incomparable – if somewhat absurd – filmography of Tim Burton.
With a well-defined signature style, Tim Burton has cemented himself in the history books of Hollywood. The collaborative filmmaker now has a career spanning over 30 years, from 80s hits such as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, to modern blockbusters like Alice in Wonderland. He has crossed genres, from superhero action to slapstick comedy, all the while maintaining a signature interpretation of every project, adding that certain Burton spin to each piece. With so many cult classics under his belt, here a just a few that have managed to withstand the test of time and remain to be favourites across generations.
Judging by Michael Keaton’s leading role in Dumbo this year, it is safe to say that the actor and Burton enjoy working together, developing their relationship over 30 years. Michael Keaton began his career with Burton in 1988’s Beetlejuice, which has become an iconic dark comedy of the 80s. Starring alongside Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, and a very young Winona Ryder, Keaton plays the titular role of Beetlejuice, a stripy-suit wearing spirit, who is conjured when his name is repeated three times. Keaton captures that ideal Burton concoction of humour and horror, making the character an icon in cinema.
Batman/ Batman Returns
Well, would you look at that – Michael Keaton returns, and this time as one of the most famous superheroes ever. Arguably one of the best Batman interpretations, Burton’s dark and twisty Gotham city was debuted on the big screen in 1989, with Jack Nicholson taking up the role of The Joker. Three years later we were given Danny DeVito’s Penguin, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, facing off against Keaton’s dark knight. The films truly set Burton up as a director to be respected, allowing him to enter the 90s with passion projects, which would eventually become cinematic icons.
It is not often that we get such a beautifully tragic love story as that of Edward and Kim. Accompanied by the hauntingly heartbreaking score of Danny Elfman, the film is a flawless masterpiece. Burton truly got to show his artistic flair and ingenious imagination with this one. It is also the first of many Burton films with Johnny Depp, and his second collaboration with Winona Ryder. The pair paints the picture of a pure, yet ultimately doomed, story of an outcast with scissors for hands and a suburban teenager as they fall in love but must remain apart forever.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Taking on the world of musical theatre, Burton’s 2007 Sweeney Todd takes a gritty look at a man hell-bent on revenge, on the corrupt streets of 18th Century London. Starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, once again, Burton does a surprisingly good job at bringing this Broadway musical to life, on the big screen, in a gory and bleak fashion.
Various other credits include Mars Attacks!, Big Fish, Frankenweenie, Sleepy Hollow, Big Eyes, and the Halloween favourite The Nightmare Before Christmas. It will be interesting to keep an eye on Burton’s future projects, with the hopes that he returns to his low-budget, 90s-style, tragic romance days and makes another iconic cult-classic flick for a new generation.
Let us know your favourite Tim Burton film, in the comments below.