Tim Burton

Essays on the Films


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About the Book

Since his early days at Disney, Tim Burton has shown a unique talent and vision. His writing and directing credits range from big-budget features such as Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), to the comically grisly The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Bride (2005), to the twisted fairy tale Edward Scissorhands (1990), to literary adaptations like Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Sweeney Todd (2007). Though his name has become synonymous with the macabre and the odd, Burton’s films often reveal and champion the flawed human in us all. This collection of new essays brings together scholarship on many of his popular films, adaptations, and innovations in stop-motion animation and his collaborative relationship with actor Johnny Depp, providing an in-depth exploration of one of the most prominent figures on the pop culture landscape in recent decades.

About the Author(s)

Johnson Cheu is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He has published work in disability studies and popular culture, as well as poetry and creative essays.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Johnson Cheu

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: notes, filmography, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9800-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2391-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction: Movies and the Art of Humanity (Johnson Cheu) 1

Section One: Outsider Characters and Other Oddities
“Why Spend Your Life Making Someone Else’s Dreams?”: Ed Wood Comes Out and Makes His Own Dreams in a Fluffy Pink Angora Sweater (Gael Sweeney) 8
An Odd Quest Continued: The Heroes of Tim Burton (Rachel S. McCoppin) 21
Mixed Assortment: The Typical and Atypical Body in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Elizabeth Leigh Scherman) 36
Corporeal Mediation and Visibility in Sleepy Hollow (Lori Parks) 54
Capitalism and Its Discontents: Gender, Property and Nature in Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow and Corpse Bride (Susan M. Bernardo) 70

Section Two: The Nature of Adaptations
Becoming the Stories: Indefinite Play in Big Fish (Lisa K. Perdigao) 86
Mixing Man and Monkey in Planet of the Apes (Kimiko Akita and Rick Kenney) 102
“A Stranger in a Sea of Familiar Faces”: ­Self-Referentiality, Bodily Hauntings and Materializing Identity in Dark Shadows (Lance Norman) 117
“Attend the Tale”: Burton’s Transformation of Sweeney Todd from Stage Epic to Screen Intimacy (Brian D. Holcomb) 134
Navigating the Risks of ­Re-Adaptation: Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory After Dahl and Stuart (Pamela Krayenbuhl) 150
The Kids Aren’t All Right: Childhood Liminality and the Monstrous-Cute in Burton’s Roald Dahl Adaptations (Sarah Downes) 165

Section Three: Technology, Artistry and Stardom
Converging Worlds: ­Neo-Victorianism in the ­Stop-Motion Films (Kara M. Manning) 184
The Use of German Expressionism and American Exceptionalism (Peter C. Kunze) 198
“I’m Not Finished”: Gender Transgression and Star Persona in Edward Scissorhands (Deborah Mellamphy) 212

Films Referenced 229
About the Contributors 233
Index 237

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Highly engaging and enlightening”—Journal of American Culture
  • “Unexpectedly involving introduction..plenty of food for thought…makes the films themselves more worth revisiting from new, more engaging perspectives”—Video Watchdog
  • “Essays deal with film themes and the technology used to make them”—Communications Booknotes Quarterly