Tim Burton Exhibition And Retrospective Opens On November 26 At TIFF Bell Lightbox
Hundreds of artworks and Burton’s cinematic oeuvre on screen offer a unique look inside the mind of one of the most influential artists of our time
Toronto – Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox today unveiled Toronto dates and special programmes for Tim Burton, the blockbuster exhibition organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. This major exhibition explores Burton’s creative vision and his artistic development from early significant drawings he made as a teenager to sophisticated renderings used to create effects for his most treasured recent films. Delving deep into Burton’s visual imagination, the exhibition brings together more than 700 items including paintings, drawings, puppets, costumes, storyboards and maquettes drawn from Burton’s personal vault, studio archives and private collections. The exhibition also includes seven new sculptural commissions created for The Museum of Modern Art and one new display-window commissioned specifically for TIFF Bell Lightbox. Tim Burton will open on November 26, 2010 and run until April 17, 2011.
Exhibition tickets go on sale on October 26 www.tiff.net.
“We are absolutely delighted to bring this extraordinary exhibition to Canada,” said Piers Handling, CEO and Director, TIFF. “This is the first MoMA show to come to Toronto in over 20 years and we look forward to continued partnership with them as well as cultural organizations around the world to present such exciting world-class exhibitions in Canada.”
“Tim Burton’s visual style is unquestionably unique, loved by millions of fans and has been highly influential in multiple creative spheres. When we first heard of the show, we were convinced it was the perfect marriage of film and the visual arts and the perfect way to bring new audiences into our major exhibitions space,” said Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox. “TIFF Bell Lightbox will offer even more, supplementing this incredible exhibition with a significant companion film programme and innovative family activities offering audiences a unique opportunity to connect with Burton’s creative process.”
An extensive film retrospective spanning Burton’s 27-year career, including his early shorts and a related series of films that influenced, inspired and intrigued him as a filmmaker, will run parallel to the exhibition. A week-long run of Burton’s most iconic film, Edward Scissorhands, will open the retrospective, followed by a holiday engagement of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The “Burton Blitz” is a unique experience for Toronto audiences: Burton’s films will screen consecutively in a back-to-back marathon over the course of the show’s opening weekend. Also included in the retrospective are 16 double bills, pairing Burton’s films as both director and producer with their influences. The film programme is curated by Jesse Wente, Head of Film Programmes, TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Special programming will include multiple weekend drop-in and registered workshops for families and youth and in-person events. Both the film programme and the exhibition will offer audiences of all ages a chance to see the influences that helped shape one of the most important creative forces in modern cinema.
Burton will also contribute a major original commission to the exhibition, transforming the King Street windows of TIFF Bell Lightbox into a seasonally-changing window display beginning with a Christmas theme.
Tim Burton will be at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto for a number of special events to be announced at a later date.
Tim Burton has been completely redesigned for TIFF by Barr Gilmore and Michel Arcand. Focusing on Burton’s film career, it will transform the gallery spaces of TIFF Bell Lightbox into a magical journey through the creative vision behind films such as Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with side chambers to explore the forces that shaped Burton’s creative mind.
Also featured are Burton’s student and early non-professional films; his long-unseen television adaptation Hansel and Gretel (1983); examples of his work for the flash animation internet series The World of Stainboy (2000); a selection of the artist’s oversized Polaroid prints; graphic art and texts for non-film projects, like The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (1997) and Tim Burton’s Tragic Toys for Girls and Boys (2003) collectible figure series; and art from a number of early unrealized projects.
Tim Burton is organized by Ron Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, and Jenny He, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, with Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.
The film retrospective presents Burton’s cinematic oeuvre, from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) to Alice in Wonderland (2010). Audiences will have at least two opportunities to see each of the films, and one of the screenings will be double-billed with a film that has influenced, inspired and intrigued Burton as a filmmaker.
To celebrate the opening of Tim Burton, Burton’s films will screen back-to-back on the weekend of November 26 to 28 in the ultimate endurance test of unadulterated Burton love. From Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) to Alice in Wonderland (2010), follow the evolution of one of the most creative visionaries of modern movies in a single marathon event.
Starting November 25, 2010, an exclusive engagement of Burton’s defining film, Edward Scissorhands (1990) will be presented, followed by a holiday engagement of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Exclusive engagements will run for at least one week.
Burton’s 14 feature films as director plus two as producer will have a double bill screening with a film that has influenced, inspired and intrigued him as a filmmaker. All films are directed by Tim Burton unless otherwise noted.
- Alice in Wonderland (2010) followed by Desperate Living (John Waters, 1977)
- The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni,1928) followed by Batman (1989)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Richard Fleischer, 1954) followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
- Ed Wood (1994) followed by Bride of the Monster (Edward D. Wood Jr., 1955)
- Marty (Delbert Mann, 1955) followed by Edward Scissorhands (1990)
- Gojira (Ishiro Honda, 1954) followed by Mars Attacks! (1996)
- Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) followed by The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
- First Men in the Moon (Nathan Juran, 1964) followed by Planet of the Apes (2001)
- Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1958) followed by Sleepy Hollow (1999)
- Artists and Models (Frank Tashlin, 1955) followed by Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
- Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey, 1963) followed by James and the Giant Peach (Henry Selick, 1996)
- Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965) followed by Batman Returns (1992)
- Theatre of Blood (Douglas Hickox,1973) followed by Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
- The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt, 1925) followed by Corpse Bride (with Mike Johnson, 2005)
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1947) followed by Big Fish (2003)
- 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963) followed by Beetlejuice (1988)
Weekend Family Activities
Celebrating the imaginative and creative works of Tim Burton, TIFF will host a wide variety of Burton-themed drop-in and registered workshops. Starting November 27, every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, parents and children can drop by to participate in the following free activities. Age recommendation: 8 and up
Crafty Characters – Create your own Burton-inspired creatures and characters from quirky parts, pieces and craft supplies.
Animation Station – Design and bring to life a favourite toy or creature through the magic of stop-motion animation.
Be in the Scene – Through the wonder of green screen technology, immerse yourself in the stunning sets of Tim Burton’s films.
Registered Workshops – Age recommendation: 12 and up
December 4 and 5
Tall Tales – Work with a professional screenwriter to develop your simple script idea into a magical masterpiece.
December 11 and 12
Micro Set Construction – Learn to build small sets (stop-motion appropriate) in the style of Tim Burton.
December 26 to 30
3 Days to Make a Movie (Live Action) and 3 Days to Make a Movie (Stop Motion) – Participants will work as a team to script, storyboard, set design, prop design, costume/craft, edit and screen a short film in 3 days of fun, fantastical filmmaking.
January 8 and 9
Quirks & Chords – Learn how to enchant a listener by exploring and emulating the musical stylings of Burton’s longtime musical collaborator Danny Elfman.
The exhibition and film retrospective will be accompanied by a new, TIFF-produced version of MoMA’s Tim Burton publication that will include a new essay by Jesse Wente, Head of Film Programmes, TIFF Bell Lightbox. Tim Burton traces the evolution of Burton’s creative practices, following the current of his visual imagination from his early childhood drawings through his mature work. Essays by MoMA curators Ron Magliozzi and Jenny He consider Burton’s career as an artist and filmmaker, shedding new light on his singular aesthetic. Richly illustrated with film stills, drawings, paintings, photographs, maquettes, and graphic work for both his film and non-film projects, the book presents previously unseen works from Burton’s personal archive. Tim Burton will be available at TIFF.Shop.
Exhibition Ticket Policy
Gallery occupancy is limited and timed-entry tickets are in effect. Starting October 26, timed-entry tickets for the Tim Burton exhibition will be available online at tiff.net, and at the box office at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Ticket prices are $22.75, includes HST. A timed-entry ticket will guarantee visitors entrance at the chosen time.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday – 10 am to 7 pm, Sunday – 10 am to 6 pm, Monday – closed.
The opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox has inspired TIFF to create a new membership programme that offers audiences exciting opportunities to experience year-round programming in unique and special ways. TIFF members will enjoy priority access to programming including Tim Burton film programmes, discounts on select screenings, free entry to the exhibitions in the galleries, regular TIFF insider updates, invitations to exclusive members-only events, and more. To learn about all the benefits of being a TIFF member, please visit tiff.net/membership.
Visit www.tiff.net or call 416-599-TIFF (8433) and 1-888-599-8433 for more information. TIFF Bell Lightbox is located at Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
All films are directed by Tim Burton unless otherwise noted.
- Alice in Wonderland USA.2010. With Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
The most successful film of Burton’s career and one of the most successful of all time, this revamped version of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic finds a teenaged Alice returning to Wonderland, where she reunites with her old friends and must battle to end the Red Queen’s tyrannical reign over the realm. A truly grim fairy tale, Burton’s Alice is perhaps his most direct confrontation with the uneasy and even dangerous transition from adolescence to maturity, filled with images of mounting violence and dread.
Desperate Living dir. John Waters. USA.1977. With Liz Renay, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe, Edith Massey, Jean Hill
Ultra-paranoid housewife Peggy Gravel and her mountainous maid Grizelda attack and kill Peggy’s husband, forcing them to go on the lam to Mortville, a garbage-dump kingdom of criminals, drug addicts and sexual deviants ruled by the disgusting Queen Carlotta. As does Burton, John Waters, the patron saint of bad taste, celebrates the triumphs of the weird, the twisted and the outcast.
- The Man Who Laughs dir. Paul Leni. USA.1928. With Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin
Based on a novel by Victor Hugo, The Man Who Laughs is one of the last of the silent era’s lavish historical spectacles and brings a delightfully morbid element of grotesquerie to its epic canvas. In seventeenth-century England, the nobleman Lord Clancharlie is kidnapped and his son Gwynplaine is sold to gypsies after having a permanent smile carved into his face. Years later, Gwynplaine has become a successful clown, but when the king’s evil jester learns the truth of his identity, he tries to corrupt and destroy him.
Batman USA.1989. With Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson
A marketing phenomenon and the film that confirmed Burton as a major Hollywood filmmaker, Batman took inspiration from Frank Miller’s epochal graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns and brought a hard, dark edge to the superhero film. Haunted by the murder of his parents, billionaire Bruce Wayne descends from the shadows to dish out pugilistic justice as the caped and cowled Batman. Famously averse to comic books, Burton appropriated the stylistics of German Expressionism to transform juvenile superheroics into a hyperbolic duel between two grotesques set against a shadowy Gothic cityscape. Batman’s empire of ancillary products (toys, comics, TV shows, etc.) made the idea of the multimedia blockbuster the Holy Grail of Hollywood studios, giving it an enormous influence on the shape of entertainment to come.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea dir. Richard Fleischer USA.1954. With Kirk Douglas, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre, James Mason
In this blockbuster Disney adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, an 1868 whaling expedition sets out in search of a sea creature that has been sinking American ships—only to find that the “monster” is really a giant submarine, the Nautilus, commanded by the mad Captain Nemo. A thrilling adventure with astounding special effects—most notably the famous attack on the Nautilus by a giant squid—20,000 Leagues Under the Sea exemplifies the kind of unbridled imagination and widescreen spectacle that would inspire some of Burton’s most ambitious projects.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory USA/UK. 2005.With Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore
Roald Dahl’s carnivalesque whimsy and deliciously morbid sense of humour make him an almost too-perfect match for Burton, making the director’s adaptation of Dahl’s perennial children’s classic something of a foregone conclusion. Miraculously discovering the last of five special golden tickets, young and impoverished Charlie Bucket wins a privileged tour of the magical factory of legendarily reclusive and eccentric candy-maker Willy Wonka. One of Burton’s most richly designed films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a veritable sugar-rush of eye candy.
- Ed Wood USA .1994. With Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Bill Murray
As much an inverted autobiography of its director as it is a biopic, Ed Wood sees Burton, one of the most successful directors in Hollywood history, finding a kindred spirit in the legendary “worst director of all time.” Shot in pristine black and white and graced with an Academy Award®-winning performance by Martin Landau as Dracula star Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood is Burton’s heartfelt homage to a fellow big screen dreamer.
Bride of the Monster dir. Edward D. Wood Jr. USA.1955. With Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy
Ed Wood’s first film with Bela Lugosi equals his better-known Plan 9 from Outer Space for gleeful absurdity and endearing incompetence. When people start disappearing in a small Florida town, a reporter investigates, only to find the townsfolk have been abducted by the sinister Dr. Vornoff and his mute, hulking manservant Lobo to be used in radiation “experiments.” Culminating in a now-legendary attack by an unmoving rubber octopus, Bride of the Monster is schlock cinema at its glorious best.
- Marty dir. Delbert Mann. USA.1955. Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair
Delbert Mann’s Academy Award®-winning film version of Paddy Chayefsky’s lauded television drama is one of the screen’s most poignant portraits of loneliness, insecurity and self-doubt. A burly, good-natured Bronx butcher, Marty is insecure about his appearance and has resigned himself to a lifetime of solitude—until he meets shy schoolteacher Clara, who draws him out of his self-imposed shell. A neorealist companion to Burton’s flamboyant outsider fables, Marty tenderly depicts the plight of social outcasts, and their ability to rise above their outward appearances.
Edward Scissorhands USA. 1990. With Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest
Burton’s beloved modern-day fable about a black-clad, shock-haired “freak” trying to find his place in “normal” society is also his most clearly (if exaggeratedly) autobiographical film. Created by an inventor who dies before he can replace his razor-sharp digits with actual hands, teenage Edward is discovered in his mouldering castle by local Avon lady Peg, who brings him home and tries to incorporate him into neighbourhood life. Although Edward’s talents at hairdressing and topiary make him a local sensation, when he falls in love with Peg’s beautiful daughter Kim, he becomes a hunted pariah once again. Brilliantly designed by Bo Welch and bringing romance and pathos to the director’s previously frenetic world, Edward Scissorhands is perhaps the definitive Burton movie.
- Gojira dir. Ishiro Honda. Japan.1954. With Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi
King of the monsters now and forever, Gojira—known as “Godzilla” to generations of North Americans—is a giant dinosaur with radioactive breath awakened from centuries-long slumber by American nuclear testing, who would alternate between defending and destroying a much-abused Tokyo in decades’ worth of sequels. Presented here in its original Japanese version, Gojira reveals itself as a pointed and angry nuclear-age allegory as well as a seminal giant-monster movie. Gojira has inspired not just Burton, but generations of filmmakers who have imbued the cinematic destruction of our cities with resonant allegorical meaning.
Mars Attacks! USA. 1996. With Jack Nicholson, Michael J. Fox, Natalie Portman, Glenn Close, Rod Steiger
An over-the-top, comic book-coloured riff on Irwin Allen disaster movies and ‘50s alien invader flicks, Mars Attacks! was Burton’s first attempt to marry his love of hand-crafted effects with the realities of the CGI age. Adapted from the Topps trading card series, the film chronicles the invasion of Earth by a bevy of cackling, skull-faced Martians. Happily irresponsible and in the very best of bad taste, Mars Attacks! is Burton’s rampaging id turned up to 11.
- Nosferatu dir. F.W. Murnau.Germany.1922. With Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim
F.W. Murnau’s pirated version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is perhaps the best adaptation of the venerable tale ever brought to the screen. Stripped of its Victorian trappings and aura of Gothic romance, Nosferatu reimagines the suave Count Dracula as the hideous Count Orlok, a rat-faced, bony-fingered, angular walking corpse of terrifying height, a bearer of pestilence and plague rather than an otherworldly seducer. A cold, spare, dread-filled tonic to the enjoyable creepiness of Burton’s other horror movie inspirations Nosferatu links Burton’s wild imaginings to the very beginnings of fantasy/horror cinema.
The Nightmare Before Christmas dir. Henry Selick USA.1993. With voices of Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara
Burton’s delightfully twisted entry into the holiday film canon was also his first ambitious attempt to revive the dormant art of stop-motion animation for an entire feature film. When Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, discovers the concept of Christmas, he embarks on a plan to take the place of Santa Claus and spread joy instead of fear – but not everybody is ready for Jack’s version of Christmas. With mesmerizingly detailed animation, dazzling direction by Henry Selick and a memorable and hilarious score by Danny Elfman, The Nightmare Before Christmas helped rejuvenate an entire mode of filmmaking and pays heartfelt homage to the past masters of the form.
- First Men in the Moon dir. Nathan Juran. UK. 1964. With Edward Judd, Martha Hyer, Lionel Jeffries
There is no greater influence on Tim Burton than the legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, whose awe-inspiring creations stalked through a host of classic science fiction and fantasy films in the 1950s and ‘60s. In First Men in the Moon, a group of modern-day astronauts lands on the moon only to discover that they are far from the first visitors, human or otherwise, to the lunar surface. An action-packed sci-fi adventure with astonishing creature effects, First Men in the Moon gives ample testament to Harryhausen’s extraordinary talents and his extensive influence on Burton.
Planet of the Apes USA. 2001. With Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth
A muscular, hard-hitting remake of a much-loved (and much-parodied) touchstone of science-fiction cinema, Planet of the Apes sees Burton revealing the blockbuster chops so often concealed behind his image of the perpetual outsider and dreamy fantasist. When astronaut Leo Davidson crashes on an unknown planet, he finds that the evolutionary tables have turned and apes now rule a captive and endangered human population. Replete with stirring battle scenes and striking makeup effects, Burton’s Planet of the Apes also offers its own intriguing twist on the 1968 original’s well-known ending, paying homage to its source even as it cannily inverts it.
- Horror of Dracula dir. Terence Fisher. United Kingdom.1958.With Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee
This Technicolored reboot of Bram Stoker’s venerable vampire by the upstart company Hammer Films launched a long-running series where Christopher Lee’s saturnine Count would confront Peter Cushing’s arch, disdainful Van Helsing from the nineteenth century to the swinging London of the 1970s. This first encounter established the trademarks of the Hammer style: bright red blood, a surplus of heaving Victorian bosoms, and stylized production design that infuses Gothic gloom with pliant, sensual menace. Burton’s Sleepy Hollow pays explicit homage to the Hammer template, from its gnarled, twisted landscapes to Christopher Lee’s winking cameo.
Sleepy Hollow USA/Germany.1999. With Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci
This elaborate expansion of Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was Burton’s first re-imagining of a literary classic, creating a model for his later adaptations from Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll. Irving’s timid clerk Ichabod Crane is given a makeover as a fey scientific detective investigating a series of grisly murders in the small town of Sleepy Hollow, apparently perpetrated by a spectre called the Headless Horseman. Abandoning the tenuous connections to recognizable reality that had previously tethered his live-action features, Sleepy Hollow is a wholly self-contained Gothic nightmare that ranks among Burton’s most vivid creations.
- Artists and Models dir. Frank Tashlin. USA. 1955. With Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, Dorothy Malone
In Artists and Models, one of the best of the Martin & Lewis films, the duo are struggling comic-book artists in Greenwich Village who become mixed up with a comic-book writer and her shapely “Bat Lady” model, international intrigue, numerous cases of mistaken identity and some intermittent musical numbers. While the lineage between Lewis and Reubens’ Pee-wee is clear, Burton also drew from director Frank Tashlin’s riotously bright colour palette and cartoonist’s sense of exaggeration when designing his own cinematic world.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure USA.1985. With Paul Reubens
Burton’s first film is a bizarre, hilarious fusion of Dali, Escher and Ray Harryhausen. A nasal-voiced man-child, Pee-wee Herman is a classic Burton outsider, a self-described “loner” and “rebel” despite his grey flannel suit and bright red bow tie. When his beloved tricked-out, apple-red bike is stolen, Pee-wee embarks on an adventure across America to find it. As ineffably weird as ever, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure introduced Burton’s singular sensibility to a wide audience, and its critical and commercial success launched his unlikely career as a top Hollywood filmmaker.
- Jason and the Argonauts dir. Don Chaffey UK/USA.1963. With Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond
Stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen created his greatest achievement with this thrilling mythological adventure film, tracing the Greek hero Jason’s quest with a crew of adventurers to recover the legendary Golden Fleece and reclaim his rightful place on the throne of Thessaly. No other film has had such a life-long influence on Burton as this spectacular piece of cinematic wizardry.
James and the Giant Peach dir. Henry Selick UK/USA. 1996. With voices of Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon
Burton reteamed as producer with director Henry Selick for this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s classic, combining live action and stop-motion animation. An orphaned boy, seeking escape from his miserable home life with his despicable aunts, catches a flight on a giant peach, in the company of some friendly talking insects. Perfectly capturing Dahl’s nimble blending of the magical and the grotesque and adding a few dollops of Burtonesque macabre in a spooky amusement park and an encounter with skeletal pirates (complete with Jack Skellington cameo), James and the Giant Peach is one of the relatively undiscovered treasures in the Burton oeuvre.
- Repulsion dir. Roman Polanski UK.1965. With Catherine Deneuve
Roman Polanski’s terrifying psychological horror film follows Carole, a young manicurist in London with a paralyzing fear of sex, who is left alone in her apartment when her sister goes on vacation. Lonely and paranoid, Carole descends into insanity as her hallucinations begin to become indistinguishable from reality. Interspersing the oppressively eerie atmosphere with moments of shocking impact, Polanski steers a masterful course between restraint and sensation, etching one of the cinema’s most vivid portraits of urban dread and creeping madness.
Batman Returns USA/UK.1992. With Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken
Burton’s only sequel took the Batman series into even darker territory than his first entry, as Batman battles with the grotesque Penguin and the sultry Catwoman over the fate of Gotham City. Alternating between tortured introspection and outsized, carnivalesque spectacle, Batman Returns amplifies the simultaneous push towards the psychologically realistic and the absurdly exaggerated that Burton had established with his original Caped Crusader film.
- Theatre of Blood dir. Douglas Hickox UK.1973. With Vincent Price, Diana Rigg
A deliciously gruesome theatrical revenge fantasy, Theater of Blood stars Burton’s idol Vincent Price as Edward Lionheart, a hammy and embittered Shakespearean actor out for vengeance on those critics who savaged his performances in their reviews. Stylish, inventive and blessed with a delightfully morbid tongue-in-cheek wit, Theater of Blood exemplifies the kind of gallows humour which Burton has made his own.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street USA/UK.2007. With Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
While Burton’s sense of elaborate staging and love of the patently artificial has always seemed a perfect match for the aesthetics of the musical, it wasn’t until this adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler Broadway classic that he sought to make a “traditional” movie musical. In grimy nineteenth-century London, Benjamin Barker returns from prison after years of imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. Intent on taking revenge on those who wronged him, Barker reinvents himself as Sweeney Todd, expert barber with a side trade in throat-slittings. A celebration of the art of arterial spray, Sweeney Todd is the zenith of Burton’s Gothic horror films and one of the most visceral visual spectacles of the past cinematic decade.
- The Lost World dir. Harry O. Hoyt. USA. 1925. With Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone
Burton’s cinematic lineage begins with this groundbreaking adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic science-fiction novel, the first film to employ extensive stop-motion animation. Insisting that dinosaurs continue to exist in the modern age, explorer Prof. Challenger leads an expedition to a remote Amazonian plateau, where he and his colleagues encounter a plethora of astonishing creatures, courtesy of special effects wizard Willis O’Brien. A landmark in the history of screen special effects, The Lost World was almost lost itself thanks to studio negligence and the rapid deterioration of nitrate film stock. Presented here in a restored version courtesy of the George Eastman House, The Lost World reclaims its place as a pioneering screen fantasy.
Corpse Bride dir.Tim Burton and Mike Johnson UK/USA. 2005. With voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson
Burton’s first personally directed stop-motion feature (in collaboration with Mike Johnson) is a lovely and gorgeously detailed fairy tale that crosses an ancient Jewish fable with archly British class comedy to delightful effect. When meek, sallow-faced clerk Victor Van Dort nervously practices the vows he intends for his fiancée Victoria Everglot, he finds himself accidentally betrothed to the Corpse Bride, who has been “living” in limbo since being murdered on her wedding day. With the superb animation highlighted by wondrous musical setpieces – including a raucous performance by a skeletal jazz band – Corpse Bride is one of Burton’s most tender and magical creations.
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz.USA. 1947. With Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s supernatural romance follows beautiful young widow who forms a unique relationship with the ghost haunting her seaside cottage. A whimsical blend of fantasy, horror, romance and melodrama, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir echoes Burton films ranging from Beetlejuice to Alice in Wonderland in its free movement between reality and fantasy.
Big Fish dir. Tim Burton.USA. 2003. With Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohman
A moving adaptation of the novel by Daniel Wallace, Big Fish is Burton’s most unabashedly romantic film since Edward Scissorhands. A son tries to learn more about his dying father and separate fact from fiction by reliving the grandiose stories and myths that his father has constructed about himself.
- 8 1/2 Federico Fellini. Italy. 1963. With Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée
One of the most famous films of all time, Federico Fellini’s dazzling semi-autobiographical fantasia is a stunningly surreal exposé of the creative process. Tormented by creative block, director Guido Anselmi drifts helplessly as the pre-production on his new film, an ambitious science-fiction epic, hurtles forward. Unable to cope with either the demanding production, his strained marriage or his demanding mistress, Guido retreats into dreams and fantasies, including a stifling traffic jam that gives way to a transcendent flight through the clouds and a palatial house where all the women in his life, past and present, serve under his whip-wielding. The film’s nearly bacchanalian atmosphere and effortless shifting between fantasy and reality find clear echoes in Burton’s phantasmagoric screen worlds.
Beetlejuice USA. 1988. With Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder
Burton’s breakthrough hit is a singularly bizarre ghost story that perfectly embodies his madcap sensibility. Killed in a car accident, young married Adam and Barbara Maitland are confined to their beloved small-town home as ghosts. When their house is bought by an unlikeable rich family from the city, they hire “bio-exorcist” Beetlejuice to dispose of the fleshly nuisances—but when the lascivious ghoul sets his sights on the new owners’ sympathetic daughter Lydia, the Maitlands have to decide whether to ally themselves with life or death. Giving Burton’s carnivalesque sensibility free rein, Beetlejuice is a wild parade of fantastic inventions, from a hilariously bureaucratized underworld to the hideous stop-motion “sandworm” and a levitating Harry Belafonte karaoke session.
About TIFF Bell Lightbox
TIFF Bell Lightbox, a breathtaking five-storey complex located in downtown Toronto, provides a permanent home for film lovers to celebrate cinema from around the world and will propel TIFF forward as an international leader in film culture. Designed by innovative architecture firm KPMB, TIFF Bell Lightbox’s fluid structure encourages exploration, movement and play. The campaign to build TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by founding sponsor Bell, the
Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the King and John Festival Corporation – consisting of the Reitman family and the Daniels Corporation – RBC as major sponsor and official bank, Visa†, the Copyright Collective of Canada, the Slaight Family Foundation, NBC Universal Canada, the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, the Harbinger Foundation, CIBC and BMO. The Board of Directors, staff and many generous individuals and corporations have also contributed to the campaign. For more information on the TIFF Bell Lightbox campaign, visit www.belllightbox.ca.
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. Its vision is to lead the world in creative and cultural discovery through the moving image. TIFF generates an annual economic impact of $170 million CAD and currently employs more than 100 full-time staff and 500 part-time and seasonal staff, and counts upon the largesse of over 2,000 volunteers year-round.
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Tim Burton is generously supported by Presenting Sponsor RBC, Presenting Partner the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and the Official Media Partner The Toronto Star.