"I never think of things as dark or light. I've always felt that you couldn't even pull apart light and dark, they're so intertwined."
The first thing I'm going to say about Burton on Burton is, if you're looking for some access into Tim Burton's private life (and, let's face it, who isn't? [everyone]) then you're going to be disappointed- there's no blow by blow account of his meeting and wooing Helena Bonham Carter, no deep dark teenage secrets, and you know what? I prefer it that way. It feels like now, we know waaay too much about people in the public eye, when really all we need to know is about their body of work. Which is what Burton on Burton focuses on excellently.
I mean, I'd be lying if I said that the book revealed nothing about Burton apart from his work, but it's almost like... Because the structure of the book is Burton talking about himself and mainly his work, it's like you get to know him through the context of his work. I mean, in the early years section, you find out that he was an awkward, shy, artistic kid who grew up in suburbia, hating it; but that's nothing you wouldn't have been able to figure out by watching Edward Scissorhands, for example. So yeah, there are a few things like that that the book 'reveals', but mostly it's about Burton's work and how he feels about it, which is fine by me. Perfect, even.
So, that's what you don't get. But what you do get is a lot of information about how Burton envisaged his films, what it was like making them, and the strangely disturbing fact that he doesn't like comic books (doesn't he seem exactly like a kid who was obsessed with comic books? Apparently it's because he could never figure out which box to read, which is just adorable, actually!) Add this to the 2 (TWO!) introductions by Johnny Depp, both of which are extremely articulate and just make me go 'Oh Depp, you talented bastard *sigh*'; and to the fact that it stops juuust before his films started becoming very very similar (except for Sweeney Todd, which is awesome) and Burton on Burton becomes a fairly comprehensive, and above all interesting perspective on Burton's films.
A quick note: I read this as a Tim Burton fan, and a seasoned connoisseur of his movies. Apart from his very early work, I think I've only not seen 2 or 3 of his movies, and so obviously getting a behind the scenes, or better, behind the director's eyes look at them was pretty awesome. If, however, you've only seen a few of his movies and want to see more, then this is maybe not the best book for you because spoilers? They're not exactly avoided. A LOT of prior knowledge is assumed with this book, as I guess it would be since, why would you want to read it if you don't like Tim Burton films?, but it's slightly frustrating when you're given almost the entire plot of Planet of the Apes, which maybe you didn't intend to watch, but now you definitely won't because there's no point. This is an actual example, obviously. So yeah, just be aware of that, people, and don't say I didn't warn you.
Anyway. Basically, the end result of Burton on Burton for me has been 'rewatch ALL THE BURTON.' Now, it's been 2 weeks since I read it and, um, I haven't actually rewatched any of the Burton, but hey! I've been busy. So I now have a weekend plan, to rewatch ALL THE BURTON (it is nearly Halloween and all). I'll report back in due course, obviously.
Until then, I'll leave you with some nuggets of Tim Burton wisdom:
- "I've always felt: how can everybody else want to see it if I don't want to? And if I want to see it, and nobody else wants to, then at least I get to see it. So there's one person who will enjoy it."
- "I loved Batman, the split personality, the hidden person. It's a character I could relate to. Having these two sides, a light side and a dark one, and not being able to resolve them- that's a feeling that's not uncommon."
- "[Growing up in Suburbia] You never felt that there was any attachment to things. So you were either forced to conform and cut out a large portion of your personality, or to develop a very strong interior life which made you feel separate."
- "I find it darker when there's a light-hearted attitude to violence and it's more identifiable than when something is completely removed from reality. I've always had trouble understanding that."