Reading the auteur theory chapter in “Understanding Film Theory” brought me back to several childhood memories. Tim Burton was a favorite of my brother’s. I remember him telling me about the sort of triangle that Tim Burton had with Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. He loved Johnny Depp and this got him hooked on Tim Burton films. Meanwhile my father was not a fan of Tim Burton in the least bit. He disliked Johnny Depp’s characters and the gloomy and gruesome plots that Tim Burton tended to lean towards. Although I have always been aware of the clear correlation between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (if you put the two together there will be some kind of depressing story, lots of black, and emphasis on night and blood) I didn’t recognize these to be Tim Burton’s stylistic traits and why he was drawn to them. This explained to me why my brother had a strong liking to all of his films while my dad was the complete opposite.
This chapter explains in great detail each technique and choice Tim Burton makes. As a director, he consistently falls between Horror and Fantasy which in turn requires shadows, curves, angular objects, and a surreal nature of storytelling. The use of Johnny Depp in both Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd draws a direct parallel between the two stories and stems the latter film as sort of a ghost of the former. The costuming and makeup also remains consistent with a feel of dishevel, chaos, and death, but also sympathy for the outcast. Digging into Burton’s childhood tells us that he had a period of his life that he was a loner and where he found himself lost in an imagination where he related to the monster, the outcast, and saw the monster as having a bigger heart than what appears. Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite films. Even though he is a serial killer, I find a connection with Johnny Depp’s character because of the way the film is set up and the message portrayed by Burton. There are series of flashbacks where we see a man of political power stealing Depp’s love from him unjustly. Instead of completely rejecting Depp’s character as being a psychopath, we relate to him because he feels love, a natural emotion that we all have felt. Without this connection, the film’s message would be much different and it would be received much differently.