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Burton, Tim

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Film, People.

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(1958-    ) US filmmaker, resident in the UK since 2002, all of whose films have been fantasy of one kind or another. An animator by background who has intermittently returned to the medium, Burton made his live-action debut on Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) and had a surprise hit with his second feature Beetlejuice (1988), which landed him the high-stakes job of directing Warner's prize project Batman. A major success, it led to three sequels, of which Burton himself directed the first but was relegated to a producing role on its disappointing successors. Using his new leverage as an A-list director he made personal project Edward Scissorhands (1990) and, as writer and producer, The Nightmare before Christmas (1993), since when he has continued to mix high-profile studio fantasy projects with smaller-scale quirkier fare. His films of sf interest are Mars Attacks! (1996), the remake Planet of the Apes (2001), the two versions of Frankenweenie, and the biopic Ed Wood (1994) about Edward D Wood Jr; he also produced the feature-length version of Shane Acker's Post-Holocaust animation 9 (2009). A consistently interesting and offbeat storyteller, an outstanding visual stylist, and an extremely strong directorial presence whose often melancholic tonal register resists traditional Hollywood narrative comforts, Burton has an envied track record of turning studio lead into box-office gold while retaining a strikingly individual vision and voice; even by-numbers studio fare such as the phenomenally profitable Alice in Wonderland (2010) is transmuted by his involvement. Many of his films explore the poignant experience of creatively gifted outsider figures in a thwarted quest for fulfilment; these are commonly played by his regular leading man Johnny Depp. [NL]

see also: Amazing Stories.

Timothy Walter Burton

born Burbank, California: 25 August 1958

further reading (selected)


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