Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top Films: Odd Balls

Tim Burton’s films are known for their style, their signature “look.” However, they also all tend to have a similar theme: the innocent and strange main character that is out of step with the world, but that also has something to teach that world. Everyone from Charlie Bucket in Willie Wonka’s factory to Captain Leo Davidson in the remake of Planet of the Apes is out of step with the world they find themselves in, but by the end of the film, they have shown that world to be flawed and in need of what they had to offer. Their innocence or naiveté that was ridiculed and belittled early on is revealed to really be the different perspective that was needed all along.
 
Three particularly brilliant films in the Burton cannon especially show this pattern.
 
"Edward Scissorhands" (1990) 
is a beautiful modern day fairy tale about an innocent thrust into suburbia. The very fact that he is good causes him to be rejected and persecuted by the folks of the town; the fact that he is different causes him to be seen as evil.
 
"Sleepy Hollow" (1999) 
sees Depp again, this time as a policeman interested in actually solving crime who must learn to face true evil and that it is not enough to know who is bad, but to confront them as well.
 
"Big Fish" (2003) 
is an exploration of what truth is through the eyes of a disillusioned son and his tall-tale-telling dad. Edward Bloom was different in that he was born with n discouragement. He always knew how to make the best of any situation by simply trusting that things would work out right.
 
There is food for thought in Burton’s rejects, especially when viewed through the lens of an innocent encountering the fallen world we all live in.

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