Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tim Burton Exhibit

There has been a real explosion of Tim Burton mania recently. The head of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) invited me to a private viewing of the large Tim Burton exhibition on the day it closed to the public.

It was necessary because the crowds are so big it’s impossible to really study the art. And what art it is! From his earliest drawings to his most recent work, it’s a wonderful overview of his career. In fact there are some similarities between his work and mine. I saw early examples of his illustrated stories, his caricatures, gag cartoons and animation. Of course the similarities stop there since he became a superstar and I’m still a struggling independent animator.

Some of the highlights are his very early films (very macabre). There were sculptures to a lot of his films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Batman”, “Mars Attacks”, but of particular interest to me were his personal drawings of monsters. He should really think about doing a drawn animated feature film of monster stories. The designs and artwork is so beautiful.

Then to cap off the Tim Burton week some friends of mine (they remain anonymous) got stoned, en masse, and went to see “Alice in Wonderland” but not the 3D version because my posse was afraid of headaches.

The film is a total smash hit. 117 millin on the first weekend so I’m surprised to report it wasn’t a total delight I expected. Sure Johnny Depp was great and Helen Carter was terrific but it lacked a real sense of humor and pushed the surrealism to its limits. Take a look at the CGI scenes in Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Paramus”. Now that’s imaginative imagery. Maybe I’m jaded because “Avatar” was such a great leap of surreal storytelling and now I expect all films to take me on a magical trip. But the trip to “wonderland” wasn’t so magical.

Tune into later blogs because I want to do an in-depth discussion (rant) about “Avatar.” Thanks for your eyeballs my dear readers.


  1. Johnny Depp's dance scene at the end, is what sealed the deal for me. Way to campy for my taste. The first half of the movie was great though.

  2. A total let down for me. The story was so disjointed. The visuals were interesting at first, but I became "desensitized" to them pretty quickly. There was so much to see on every part of the screen that nothing really stood out. A lot like Avatar in that really. I am envious you get to go to the private showing though.

  3. I'm sorry Mr. Plympton, but even if "he became a superstar and you are still a struggling, independent animator", at least you are extremely talented, a gazillion times more than that fraud of a guy.
    I do not want to be rude, but to me Tim Burton is exactly what is portrayed in this hilarious parody: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1929453
    Exactly. So I have stopped going to his movies when I figured it out, a few years back, and I will definitely not see Alice.
    As for Johnny Depp, I have never considered him a good actor, but what he does with Burton is systematically ridiculous (his act in Sleepy Hollow ? Or in Charlie ? Come on !!)
    You are an artist. He's a good illustrator, and should have stuck to that.

    With all due respect,

  4. Great post bill, it really was a fantastic show! Tim Burton is amazing! Gotta disagree with Stan here.

  5. tim burton is extremely good with visuals, but the last movie that he made that i liked as a whole was big fish

  6. I haven't seen it, I gotta say the creepy looking visuals I saw in the trailer totally put me off.
    Failing to clamber out of the uncanny valley in my estimation...

  7. Tim Burton last good movie was Ed Wood. I firmly believe that his art and ideas don't get along with CGI animation, you need to feel that his designs became real stuff, real puppets, real backgrounds ...etc.

  8. I agree with Diego. He's great as a traditional and stop-motion artist but CGI is not Tim's strong suit even though he has unfortunately relied on it to many times in his recent pictures. Tim seems to shine best without the big merchandising or glossy computer animation.

    I will be honest Burton has sold out in recent years. Charlie and Chocalate Factory and Alice in Wonderland among those. I loved his work from the early nineties which in my opinion was his creative peak it was when his films didn't have the creative inhibitions they have today. Edward Scissors and Nightmare Before Christmas are some of my favorite all time films from that period.