Tim Burton

Tim Burton is a contemporary movie director best-known for his distinct dark humour and grotesque aesthetic.

Tim Burton with Johnny Depp
Tim Burton has worked with Johnny Depp in eight films

Image source: https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/johnny-depp-a-great-character-actor-tim-burton-607230

It’s hard to find a recent director whose distinct visual aesthetic has become so universally, immediately recognizable. Tim Burton has built his career around an iconic visual aesthetic, channeling specific visual influences from other artists and his own alienated childhood.


Timothy William Burton, (August 25, 1958, Burbank, CA) American director known for his original, quirky style that frequently drew on elements of the fantastic and the macabre. Burton, who became interested in drawing and filmmaking while quite young, attended the California Institute of the Arts and later worked as an animator at Disney Productions.

After making a series of short films, Burton directed his own feature films, such as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and Beetlejuice (1988).  After a huge box-office success, Burton established himself as an unconventional filmmaker. Burton was also responsible for the concept and general design of the stop-motion animation film The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

Burton at Comc-Con, 2009
Burton speaking about 9 at Comic-Con, 2009

image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Burton#/media/File:Tim_Burton_at_ComicCon_2009.jpg

Identity and key concepts

Burton’s own aesthetic reflects German Expressionism more than any other style: sharply exaggerated backdrops and landscapes with high color contrasts, relying on the use of shadows and silhouettes to heighten a feeling of tension or dread.

Sets with jagged edges and alternately rounded, tilted or visually disjointed and discombobulated spaces, are another key element. A general sense of visual distortion, the use of dialed-up color contrasts, looming architectural shapes, and an overall sense of heightened reality, are all further key parts of the aesthetic that form basic components of a “Burtonesque” look.

Burton’s work is full of gothic references like scarecraws, dismembered animals, skulls and skeletons. As a mature artist, Tim Burton’s work married his love of the surreal to stories that stripped away the banality of everyday, politely civilized life.

In fact, in his films the plot often focuses around a misunderstood outcast. His antagonists are often coldly superior, brutal and thuggish but avoid getting noticed by other characters. His heroes are often neurotic, somewhat cowardly and bizarre yet also intelligent and highly moral.

Tim Burton
Tim Burton walks among the dead at Guanajuato’s Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato.

image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tim_Burton_Expresion_en_Corto.jpg

info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Burton


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