Friday, March 4, 2011

Tim Burton Exhibit in Toronto

I went to the Tim Burton Exhibit which is currently in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I expected to be underwhelmed ...not because I have anything against Burton, but because exhibits sometimes have the tendency to be overrated and low on actual quality content. That wasn't the case this time around, thankfully.

Burton has been one of my favourite directors since childhood. Some of my fondest film memories are of his unique and quirky films. I could recite (and probably still could) every word of Batman (1989). I also loved  Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). His weird, demented sense of humour and German Expressionist-inspired set pieces were a perfect blend of dark comedy and eerie fantasy.

As I got older I grew a greater appreciation for his art, both in terms of concept and design and lonely and strange central characters. I fell in love with Ed Wood (1994) and found an appreciation for his short films, especially Vincent (1982). Seeing all his script notes, early sketches and clay figurines made me realize that the man is a true auteur and a genuinely talented artist. I only wish his latest films would reflect that talent. Although I loved Sweeney Todd (2007), I've been disappointed in his other more recent films. I want him to get back to the dark, lonely dreamworlds of Edward Scissorhands or even Beetlejuice. Here's hoping he goes back to his roots.

If the exhibit ever makes its way to your city, check it out! There are some real gems in that collection, from costumes (one of Johnny Depp's Edward Scissorhands outfits), set pieces (those creepy musical plastic children from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and bits and pieces from his own personal collection (photography stills of his stop-motion characters and, one of my favourite things -- his old high school notebooks and projects). Long live Burton!