Burton, Tim

views updated Jun 11 2018

Tim Burton


Born August 25, 1958, in Burbank, CA; son of Bill (a parks and recreation department worker) and Jean (a gift shop proprietor) Burton; married Lena Gieseke (an artist), February, 1989 (divorced, 1991); companion of Helena Bonham Carter; children: (with Carter) one son. Education: Attended California Institute for the Arts.


Home—London, England. Agent—Mike Simpson, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.


Film director, producer, and writer. Worked as an artist/animator for films released by Walt Disney Studios, including The Fox and the Hound, 1981, and The Black Cauldron, 1985; animation designer for Amazing Stories, National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC-TV), 1987; also director of works for television, including an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC-TV, 1986, "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" for Faerie Tale Theatre, Showtime, 1986, the animated series Beetlejuice (also producer), American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC-TV), 1990, and Family Dog (also producer), Columbia Broadcasting Systems (CBS-TV), 1993. Director of short films, including Vincent, Buena Vista, 1982, and Frankenweenie, Buena Vista, 1984. Director of feature films, including Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Warner Bros., 1985, Beetlejuice, Warner Bros., 1988, Batman, Warner Bros., 1989, Edward Scissorhands, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1990, Batman Returns, Warner Bros., 1992, Ed Wood, Touchstone, 1994, Mars Attacks! Warner Bros., 1996, Sleepy Hollow, Paramount/Mandalay, 1999, Planet of the Apes, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001, Big Fish, Columbia, 2003, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Warner Bros., 2005. Producer of feature films, including (with Denise di Novi) Edward Scissorhands, 1990, (with di Novi) Batman Returns, 1992, (with di Novi) Ed Wood, 1994, (with di Novi) Cabin Boy, 1994, (with Peter MacGregor-Scott) Batman Forever, 1995, (with di Novi) James and the Giant Peach, 1996, and Mars Attacks!, Warner Bros., 1996. Production supervisor of feature films, including The Nightmare before Christmas, Walt Disney, 1993.

Awards, Honors

Chicago Film Festival Award, 1982, for Vincent; SHOWest Award for director of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners West, 1989, for Batman; Emmy Award (with others) for outstanding animated program, 1990, for Beetlejuice.


(Story editor with Caroline Thompson) Edward Scissorhands (screenplay), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1990.

(Author of introduction) Matthew Rolston, Big Pictures, Bullfinch Press, 1991.

(Author of foreword) Tim Burton's "Nightmare before Christmas": The Film, the Art, the Vision, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.

My Art and Films, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

The Nightmare before Christmas (picture book), Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.

The Nightmare before Christmas Pop-up Book, Mouse Works, 1993.

(With Mark Salisbury) Burton on Burton, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1995, revised paper-back edition, 2000.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, Rob Weisbach Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Author of screenplay for an episode of Alfred Hitch-cock Presents (mystery anthology series), NBC-TV, 1986; author of screenplay for Lost in Oz (television pilot), syndicated, 2000, and Point Blank (television series), 2002. Creator, writer, and director of "Stain Boy," an Internet-only animated series for Shockwave.com, 2000. Contributor to The Art of Sleepy Hollow, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1999.


The 1982 television program Hansel and Gretel was based on an idea by Burton; the film Frankenweenie, released by Buena Vista in 1984, was based on an idea by Burton; episodes of the television series Amazing Stories (also known as Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories), broadcast by NBC in 1987, were based on animation and character designs by Burton; the film Beetlejuice, released by Warner Bros. in 1988, was based on a story by Burton; the television series Family Dog, broadcast by CBS in 1993, was based on Burton's character designs; the film Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas, released by Buena Vista in 1993, was based on a story and characters created by Burton; Buena Vista Interactive has released a number of video games based on The Nightmare before Christmas.

Work in Progress

Directing Corpse Bride.


The quirky style of filmmaker Tim Burton—more visual than verbal, yet shot through with psychological innuendo—has scored regularly with the U.S. moviegoing public. With several blockbuster hit movies to his credit during the 1980s and 1990s, Burton, director of Batman and creator of The Nightmare before Christmas, quickly emerged as a leading filmmaker whose pictures exuded a macabre creativity unique in the industry. "Burton, like his work, is a wonderful mess," wrote David Breskin in Rolling Stone. "He's falling-apart funny and completely alienated; he's morbid and ironic; he's the serious artist as goofball flake. A self-described 'happy-go-lucky manic-depressive,' he's like a bright flashlight in a very dark place: the grim factory of Hollywood." Both Burton's colleagues in the movie business and reviewers of many stripes—even those who find his work flawed—echo this praise. And the money Burton's movies earn at the box office backs up the talk.

Burton manages to make his kind of movies—beginning with Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and extending through works such as Big Fish—and still appeal to both juvenile and adult audiences. It all comes back to the director's vision. David Ansen commented in Newsweek that Burton's "bold neoprimitive graphic style was evident from the start, along with a macabre streak of humor and an uneasy sense that the surface gregariousness of middle-class life can quickly turn threatening. But though there are dark intimations in all his work, Burton's vision is essentially comic." And how does the filmmaker view himself? Burton has said more than once that he does not consider himself to be a director. "I'm very split," he told Joe Morgenstern in the New York Times Magazine, "a bit like an optimistic pessimist."

An Un-Average Middle-Class Kid

Born in Burbank, California, Burton grew up with his brother, Daniel, in a middle-class suburban environment that at first glance seems a far cry from the worlds of the director's movies. Burton's father, Bill, worked for the Burbank Parks and Recreation Department, while his mother, Jean, owned a gift shop called Cats Plus, which specialized in items depicting cats. On the surface his was an ordinary childhood. On the other hand, as Hal Hinson noted in the Washington Post, "It's understating the obvious to say that Burton wasn't like the other little boys growing up just down the road from Hollywood." He saw his suburban neighborhood as something other than a haven of normalcy and comfortable predictability; instead, it seemed like a blank facade hiding odd, even menacing things. He explained to Frank Rose in Premiere: "When you're a kid, you think everything is strange, and you think because you're a kid, everything is strange. Then when you get older, you realize it is strange."

As a child, Burton took refuge in strange and unusual things. He liked to play in the local cemetery and masterminded imaginative, elaborate pranks; he also made home movies of monster Christmas trees. Burton's off-center fascination was fed by a heavy diet of horror movies, particularly the series of films produced in the 1960s by Roger Corman featuring actor Vincent Price. "Price helped me get through childhood," Burton told Morgenstern. "I saw all of his horror movies on TV. A lot of them were based on Edgar Allan Poe short stories. There's something about those Poe melodramas that's very cathartic: unseen demons, dying alone, going insane, being trapped and tormented in a rear room."

While these types of tales do not fit a well-defined "happily-ever-after" scheme, when tipped upside down and viewed through Burton's lens, they do not seem so far off the fairy-tale mark after all. "All monster movies are basically one story," the director remarked to Breskin. "It's Beauty and the Beast. Monster movies are my form of myth, of fairy tale. The purpose of folk tales for me is a kind of extreme, symbolic version of life, of what you're going through…. And I linked those monsters and those Edgar Allan Poe things to direct feelings. I didn't read fairy tales, I watched them."

Young Burton was also very taken with art and drawing. From an early age, he created cartoons and elaborate doodles, which Morgenstern described as "windows into other worlds." Burton told Breskin that he first had the impulse to draw "when it started for everyone. I'm just lucky that it wasn't beaten out of me. I was very lucky that I maintained a passion for it."

After graduating from high school, Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts on a Disney fellowship. It was at CalArts that he learned the basics of animation, drawing his own characters and background designs, creating his own storyboards and shooting his own scenes—all without the competitive industry pressure of traditional film schools. After graduating, Burton returned to Burbank to work as an apprentice animator at Walt Disney Studios. Burton's years there, working on projects like The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron, proved torturous for the aspiring filmmaker, who found himself unsuited to drawing cute cuddly animals on demand. "The unholy alliance of animation is you are called upon to be an artist, but on the other hand, you are called upon to be a zombie factory worker. And for me, I could not integrate the two," Burton explained to Breskin.

The silver lining in the dark cloud of Burton's experience at Disney came when the studio, perhaps not knowing what else to do with the young animator, gave him the go-ahead—and the money—to do a project of his own. The result was Vincent, a six-minute animated short narrated by Burton's hero, Vincent Price. The film depicts a boy whose dark imagination belies his otherwise normal surroundings. Wrote Morgenstern, "Here was the first of Tim Burton's surreal landscapes, drawn with charming precocity in the style of such classic German expressionist films as Metropolis and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari—tilted horizons, walls converging in forced perspective, stairways curving infinitely upward." Price himself was quite taken by the young director: "I was so struck by Tim's amateur charm. I mean amateur in the French sense of the word, in love with something. Tim was in love with the medium, and dedicated to it."

Career Start with Disney

Burton's next original project at Disney was Frankenweenie, a twenty-nine-minute live-action film, that—like the director's experience at Disney itself—proved to be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the short piece was almost never made; and on the other, it led to bigger things for Burton. Filmed in black and white in a manner that, according to Morgenstern, "might have looked like a 1960's television sitcom in the hands of another director," Frankenweenie is about a boy who, after seeing his dog Sparky run over by a car in the street, is overtaken by grief that transforms him into the "little mad scientist in the attic." Vic is successful at resuscitating Sparky's exhumed body, only to find that he must attempt it again after hysterical neighbors, thinking Sparky is some kind of monster, form a mob and chase the dog to his second death in a burning miniature golf course windmill.

Burton told Morgenstern that, as a kid, he always found more humor in horror than in comedy. He described one of his favorite scenes from the original Frankenstein movie, "where we have this hunch-backed, twisted man with an absurdly short cane walking up this expressionist stairway and, halfway up, he stops to pull up his sock." As morbid and grim as the plot of Frankenweenie may sound, it is full of jokes of just this sort; for example, in a striking scene set after Sparky's death, Vic stands gloomily by a window, watching rain fall against the glass. As the camera moves back, the audience discovers that the "rain" is actually coming from a misdirected hose held by Vic's mother in a distracted attempt to water the yard. Despite (or perhaps because of) this type of humor, the film was deemed inappropriate for young audiences, got a PG rating, and was never released in theaters. (Fortunately for Burton fans, Frankenweenie is now available on video.)

Private screenings of Burton's short piece within the film industry won the director some "insider" fans. One of those was Paul Reubens—Pee-Wee Herman himself—who was looking for someone to direct what would become Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. "I watched the first minute and said 'Okay, this is my guy,'" Reubens recalled to Morgenstern. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is essentially a road movie: Reubens's character (that strange but endearing bow-tied, man-boy who experiences the world with the passion of a child but who has the autonomy of an adult) has an incredible bicycle. The bicycle is eventually stolen, leading Pee-Wee to set off on his own recovery mission. In the process, Burton takes the audience on a carnival ride that includes a frightful hitch with a ghostly story-telling trucker named Large Marge; an escapade in a biker bar, in which Pee-Wee does a wild shoe dance to the tune of "Tequila"; and a hilariously heroic attempt to save a menagerie of creatures from a burning pet store.

Gains Recognition with Pee-Wee

"This cartoon without cels, one of the most unselfconsciously surrealistic works to have ever have been issued from Hollywood, was at one with its hero, able to wink at the grown-ups without condescending to the kiddies, and delivering a cornucopia of pleasant surprises to all," wrote Luc Sante in Vogue. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, which was made for seven million dollars, delivered perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Despite the fact that most critics either ignored it or did not "get" it, the movie brought in forty million dollars at the box office. Speaking to Breskin, Burton described Pee-Wee as a "weird, alternative character who's protecting—who's fighting off things in the world—and has mutated into something that's separate…. It had less to do with his bike than it did the idea of passion about something that nobody else cares about. I kind of feel that way about… the movies! I make these things that are very hard to make—that are not pictures with a message by most people's standards—so I identify with a character that is passionate about something that nobody else really cares about."

Impressed by the success of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Warner Brothers allowed Burton the challenge of bringing movie-goers yet another wildly unusual character, the creepy, otherworldly Beetlejuice. Described by David Handelman in Vogue as a "nearly plotless gem," Beetlejuice revolves around the Maitlands, a nice young couple who are killed early in the movie when their car goes off a bridge. After death, the duo returns to their country home (which was in the process of being renovated at the time of the crash). Now ghosts, the Maitlands spend the bulk of the film trying to get rid of the fractious family from the city who has moved into the couple's house and turned it into a horrible modern art monstrosity. Since the neophyte ghosts are not very good at being scary, they resort to calling up the spirit Beetlejuice—a spectral gun for hire who specializes in getting rid of the living using any means necessary (including possession and the summoning of ghastly apparitions).

Like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice did not receive much favorable notice at first. Critics seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the movie's pace as it jumped from one world to the next, becoming frustrated when they discovered that there was essentially no plot in the pot at the end of the wild rainbow. Nevertheless, Beetlejuice brought in a substantial profit for its parent studio. David Denby, in spite of the very mixed review he gave Beetlejuice in New York, concluded that the film "is probably the wildest movie to become a smash hit in years, a happy event that suggests the big audience has a lot hipper taste in comedy than it does in action and drama."

Revisions Batman Saga

The next stop for Burton was Gotham City, home of the Caped Crusader. Having obtained the character rights for the "Batman" character from DC Comics, Warner Brothers hired a number of writers to try and come up with an appropriate script; eventually, studio executives approached Burton for both his input and a possible directing job. At the time, Burton was still at work on Beetlejuice and had only the success of Pee-Wee to his credit. The executives were convinced, however, that not only did Burton have a real passion for the Batman character, but he was also willing to take the caped crimefighter in a different direction—away from the goody-two-shoes superhero of the '60s television show and back to a solitary character trying to function for good in a dark and damaged world. In Burton's scheme, the conflict of the film would develop out of the existence of Batman's evil alter ego—the Joker.

Because Burton had no experience with action movies, he was given a top-flight technical crew able to execute Batman's escapes, rescues, and breathtaking midnight batmobile rides ("Where does he get those wonderful toys?" the Joker muses after one such escape). One of these notable set pieces revolves around Batman's final confrontation with the Joker, who has taken Bruce Wayne/Batman's love interest, reporter Vicky Vale, hostage. The action takes place seemingly hundreds of feet from the ground in the bell tower of a deserted cathedral, where the two foes battle for supremacy using all the tools in their respective arsenals.

An element of the Batman phenomenon that was impossible to ignore at the time of the film's release was Warner Brothers' monumental merchandising effort to encourage moviegoers to buy everything from posters and T-shirts to batmobiles, lunch boxes, and action figures. All told, the movie grossed more than 450 million dollars worldwide; with the video release and merchandising added in, the figure reportedly soared above one billion dollars.

Did critics feel that the film measured up to expectations? Anne Billson, writing in New Statesman & Society, called Batman "an art movie disguised as a blockbuster." New Yorker critic Terrence Rafferty commented that Burton "managed to give the material a luxurious masked-ball quality and a sly contemporary wit without violating the myth's low, cheesy origins…. The genius of Burton's approach to Batman was that it revelled in impurity, celebrated the anything-goes recklessness of comic-book art, and made that quality seem as beautiful—as right, in its way—as the honed, shapely narrative power of the most affecting fairy tales."

Other critics, however, seemed to want exactly that—a honed and shapely narrative—and were not satisfied with the way the film moves from one striking "picture" to the next; still others were disappointed at the story's lack of exposition. Burton, speaking to Breskin, suggested that he is willing to live with those kinds of gaps: "If Batman got therapy, he probably wouldn't be doing this, he wouldn't be putting on this bat suit, and we wouldn't have this weird guy running around in a cape…. There is a charm about characters that know [understand] what they do, but do it purely." The director agreed, however, that Batman is a mixed bag; in fact, he once characterized the film as "much more a cultural phenomenon than a great movie."

The commercial success of Batman undoubtedly gave Burton the freedom to choose a project closer to his heart. Since its release in 1990, Edward Scissorhands has been described by many critics as Burton's most personal project. The movie is about a young man (played by Johnny Depp) who is created in a Gothic castle-laboratory. When the boy's inventor/father dies before he can finish his creation, Edward is left alone with two sets of shears for hands. One day, an intrepid lady selling Avon products makes her way into the castle, discovers Edward, and brings him home to live with her family in a suburban neighborhood. At first, Edward is a marvel to all. He quickly becomes the neighborhood hero when he displays his skills at sculpting hedges and hairdos; he later falls in love with the Avon lady's blonde cheerleader daughter. Even with these accomplishments, however, Edward is misunderstood by many in the community. He becomes a scapegoat for teen-age pranksters, is labeled a general threat, and eventually gets chased by an angry neighborhood mob back into the solitary confinement of his castle.

Burton acknowledged his personal connection to Edward as the lonely artistic outsider who cannot touch. "There was a long period of time when I just hadn't been able to connect with anybody or have a relationship. Everybody goes through periods like that—the feeling that you can't connect, you can't touch," Burton explained to Rose. Relating that feeling to his character Edward and the reason why he gave his character scissors for hands, the director explained that the film "was a visual representation of what's inside. I've always felt, just for me, for some reason, it encompassed a lot about how I feel about things."

Burton surprised a great many people in the film industry when he agreed to direct Batman Returns. It wasn't the typical sequel pressure many directors feel after a box office hit—or even the lure of big money—that led Burton to take on the project. Rather, he was interested in having another chance at making a "Batman" movie that focused less on the elements of the action genre and more on the personality dynamics of a new crop of twisted characters. With a control over script, characters, and design that was missing in the first Batman, Burton was able to realize his unique vision. "It is a funny, gorgeous, midsummer night's Christmas story about … well, dating, actually. But hang on. This is the goods…. Accept no prequels," raved Richard Corliss in Time. Corliss was referring to the batty, catty relationship between Batman and Catwoman, the warped, wild nighttime persona of the used and abused Selina Kyle, secretary to evil moneyman Max Shreck. Thrown into the mix is the Penguin, born deformed and rejected by his wealthy parents. Left for dead, the foundling is raised by a group of penguins who live in the city sewers. As an adult, the Penguin meets both Batman and Cat-woman when he returns topside in a bizarre bid to become mayor of Gotham City.

Stanley Kauffmann wrote in the New Republic that, "like its predecessor, this isn't a film, it's a display—of action episodes and, chiefly, of production design. The plot doesn't matter, which is a good thing because it's murky." Rafferty, however, felt that the film was all an elusive matter of taste: "Burton's narrative technique seems more confident this time around, his rhythms smoother. The story doesn't go flat in the intervals between its show-piece sequences, as Batman did. The herky-jerky storytelling of Batman made a fascinating contrast to the picture's sleek design; in Batman Returns, the pace is even but the settings have a funky, irregular quality. The balance of incongruity comes out about the same, and preferring one kind of contrast to the other is strictly a matter of taste, or mood: a dark bat symbol against a light background, or vice versa."

A Yuletide Horror Story

Burton's next movie, The Nightmare before Christmas, brought the director's career nearly full circle. To make the film, Burton returned to the place where his professional life began: Disney Studios. The Nightmare before Christmas was based on a spoof of Clement Moore's poem "The Night before Christmas" that the director had written as a young Disney apprentice. Influenced in part by Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the television perennial Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, The Nightmare before Christmas is a stop-action animated fable about Jack Skellington, popular resident of Halloweentown, who happens to step through a magical doorway into the land of Christmas. Completely enchanted, Jack returns home and begins a passionate plan to become the current year's purveyor of Christmas. In order to carry off his idea, however, he must enlist the help of Halloweentown's ghosties and ghouls. Sally—the rag-doll creation and slave of a duck-like mad scientist with a flip-top skull—senses that Jack has not quite got the hang of Christmas, but is unable to stop him before Santa is kidnapped and the faux St. Nick is on his way to deliver disastrous and frightful surprises to the world's good girls and boys.

"This giddily imaginative stop-motion animation musical is so stuffed with visual delights you won't want to blink," enthused Ansen. Those delights were the result of two years and twenty million dollars worth of technical wizardry. Jointed figurine-type puppets with molded pop-in faces depicting different facial expressions were created from Burton's drawings and then posed and photographed over and over again. "There's something very primal about stop-action. It really is breathing life into something that doesn't have life," Burton related to Tom Gliatto and Lynda Wright in People. "When I think of the process and how it turned out, I start laughing. It's a miracle." Peter Travers, reviewing the movie in Rolling Stone, agreed: "Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas restores originality and daring to the Halloween genre. This dazzling mix of fun and fright also explodes the notion that animation is kid stuff…. It's seventy-four minutes of timeless movie magic."

Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Glieberman found the film less entertaining, commenting that Jack is "a technical achievement in search of a soul. And so is the movie. I'm not sure I've ever seen a fantasy film that's at once so visually amazing and so emotionally dead." But other critics felt that Burton's attempt to mix technical expertise with holiday whimsy worked very well indeed. Concluded Ansen: "Chances are, [Nightmare] will be around for many Halloweens to come."

Burton followed The Nightmare before Christmas with Ed Wood, a film about one of the most inept directors Hollywood ever produced. With movies like Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space to his credit, Wood (played by Johnny Depp) used a roster of (largely) awful actors, terrible sets, and nonsensical screenplays to create films with a truly offcenter vision. Ed Wood concentrates not only on these aspects of the director's unique working environment, but on his long personal and professional relationship with actor Bela Lugosi as well. The result was widely applauded by critics. Ansen called the film "sweet, sad, and very funny," a "crazily entertaining celebration" of Wood's career. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Gleiberman termed Ed Wood "funny" and "bizarre." He closed by saying that the "beauty of [the film] is that Burton loves these losers for who they are."

In 1996 Burton produced and directed Mars Attacks!, "a goofball alien-invasion parody that is so defiantly inconsequential it makes Pee-Wee's Big Adventure look weighty," wrote Newsweek critic David Ansen. In the film, a horde of Martian soldiers arrive on Earth and, immediately after declaring their peaceful intentions, proceed to zap anything and everything that stands in their way. According to Entertainment Weekly reviewer Owen Gleiberman, the extraterrestrial invaders are "like demonic jesters out for a cosmic giggle. And Burton, the maniacal pop fantasist, is on their side. His Martians have a rude, palm-buzzer spirit that makes them successors to such Burton clown-devils as the Joker in Batman or the grimy ghost in Beetlejuice." "What makes you giggle your way through much of the movie isn't the jokes—Jonathan Gems's script is surprisingly feeble, and Burton's comic timing is often flat—but the sheer, oddball chutzpah of it all," Ansen noted. "Both a tribute to schlock sci-fi and a deconstruction of it, this sleekly cheeseball $70 million production is all attitude."

From Ed Wood to Headless Horseman

After a dismal box-office showing for Mars Attacks!, and a well-publicized but failed attempt to bring Superman Lives to the screen, Burton directed Sleepy Hollow, a blood-soaked retelling of Washington Irving's short story that again features actor Johnny Depp. Set in 1799, the film concerns Ichabod Crane, here a troubled New York City constable dispatched to the countryside to investigate a series of horrific beheadings. Though Crane initially scoffs at the local legends about a headless rider, he soon learns that the ghoul does indeed exist, and he begins pursuing the demon. According to Time reviewer Richard Corliss, "Like so many old fables, Sleepy Hollow is chiefly remembered in its Disney version," an animated film that mixed thrills with comedy. "Burton will not let you go so easy into that dark night," Corliss asserted. "The director wants to turn this fairy tale into a full-blooded ghost story—and a total Tim Burton experience." Critics especially praised the look of the film; Entertainment Weekly reviewer Jeff Giles described it as "gorgeous, sumptuous, painterly," and People contributor Cecilia Roth remarked, "In Sleepy Hollow, Burton has made a pe-riod horror movie of astonishing visual beauty that masterfully treads the fine line between laughter and terror."

In 2001 Burton directed Planet of the Apes, a remake of the 1968 science-fiction classic in which a space explorer crash-lands on an alien planet where apes rule over humans. Seized in a raiding party, the astronaut is sold into slavery. With the help of a sympathetic human-rights activist, he flees his captors and journeys to a forbidden area of the planet, where he learns the disturbing truth about human-kind's past. Though Planet of the Apes was a box-office success, grossing $360 million worldwide, the film received decidedly mixed reviews. Variety critic Todd McCarthy called it "Burton's most conventional and literal-minded film, the one most lacking in his trademark poetic weirdness and bracing flights of fancy." "Planet of the Apes has its flaws, but at its best it's a fleet, fun action movie," noted Jeff Giles in Entertainment Weekly.

Big Fish, a 2003 film directed by Burton, "is a gently overstuffed cinematic pinata, crammed with tall tales—with giants and circuses and fairy-tale

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woods, plus a huge squirmy catfish, all served up with a literal matter-of-fact fancy," observed Entertainment Weekly reviewer Owen Gleiberman. The movie follows the extraordinary—and most likely fictional—life of Edward Bloom, who claims, among other things, to have befriended a giant, discovered a secret town named Spectre, and survived the Korean War with the aid of conjoined twins. Now on his deathbed, Edward is visited by his estranged son, Will, a foreign journalist, who has returned to his childhood home in Alabama "to make a final attempt to reconcile fact with fiction," according to David Ansen in Newsweek. As the film alternates between past and present, depicting Edward's youthful exploits, "the real mystery Fish wants to solve becomes clear: How can any of us fully grasp our parents' complexity—and accept that they may die still leaving questions unanswered," as People reviewer Leah Rozen noted. "Big Fish is rooted in a conflicted adult world," remarked Time contributor Josh Tyrangiel, "and for the first time in a Tim Burton film, it is the parent—not the child—who is whimsical and misunderstood."

Tours a Chocolate Factory

In 2005 Burton directed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a remake of the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Both films are based on a Roald Dahl novel. Again working with Johnny Depp, who plays eccentric chocolate factory owner Willy Wonka, Burton creates what Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly called "a delectably sustained flight of fancy." Wonka holds a contest in which a few select children can tour his bizarre chocolate factory. But the winning children are greedy, rude, and self-absorbed monsters. One by one, these bothersome children are ejected from the factory by the fanciful candy-making equipment to make sure they do not win the grand prize. Only Charlie Bucket, a gentle, honest boy, remains. Wonka is a menacing character whose toothy smile is more fang than charm, and whose caustic remarks about the children are muttered just under his breath. David Sterritt in the Christian Science Monitor admitted: "Burton turns out to be the ideal filmmaker for this deliciously bizarre yarn." Moviegoers felt the same. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory brought in $56.2 million its opening weekend.

If you enjoy the works of Tim Burton

If you enjoy the works of Tim Burton, you may also want to check out the following films:

The Company of Wolves, directed by Neil Jordan, 1984.

Shadow of the Vampire, starring Willem Dafoe, 2000.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, starring Jim Carrey, 2004.

Burton has stated that making movies is a private thing for him; he enjoys the daily vigor of filming but loathes the publicity, the studio bickering, and the standard Hollywood way of doing things. Yet his love of filmmaking has not diminished. As he told Tyrangiel, "I enjoyed working with animation a little. But I love actors and sets and all of that. It's just more fun. No matter what you're doing, you stand back, and it's like there are all these people standing around in funny clothes looking at you…. Maybe I seem to them like the most foul-tempered, sealed-off zombie creature, but I get such incredible joy. It's like a wonderful, absurd dream."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Burton, Tim, and Mark Salisbury, Burton on Burton, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1995, revised paperback edition, 2000.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 4th edition, Volume 2: Directors, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.

Fraga, Kristan, Tim Burton: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2005.

McMahan, Alison, The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood, Continuum (New York, NY), 2005.


Anglophonia: French Journal of English Studies, Number 15, 2004, Elena Vassilieva, "Gothic Archetypes in Hollywood: The Trickster and the Double in 'Batman' and 'The Mask,'" pp. 199-207.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ), January 9, 2004, Phil Villarreal, review of Big Fish, p. F19.

Boston Globe, October 17, 1993, pp. A9, A11.

Business Wire, June 29, 2004, "Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson to Lead Voice Cast of 'Corpse Bride' for Warner Bros. Pictures."

Christian Science Monitor, July 15, 2005, David Sterritt, review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, p. 14.

Creative Screenwriting, July-August, 2001, Daniel Argent, "Evolution: The Development of the 'Planet of the Apes' (2001)," pp. 44-46.

Entertainment Weekly, June 26, 1992, pp. 77-78; October 22, 1993, p. 82; December 9, 1994, p. 15; December 13, 1996, Owen Gleiberman, review of Mars Attacks!, p. 58; December 5, 1997, Daneet Steffens, review of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, p. 83; November 19, 1999, Chris Nashawaty, "A Head of Its Time," p. 38; April 27, 2001, Benjamin Svetkey, "Ape Crusaders," p. 32; August 3, 2001, Owen Gleiberman, "Apes of Wrath," p. 39; December 12, 2003, Steve Daly, "Tim Burton's Big Adventure," p. 44, and Owen Gleiberman, "The Fable Guy," p. 55; April 30, 2004, Andrea Adams, review of Big Fish video, p. 146; July 22, 2005, Owen Gleiberman, review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, p. 51.

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), January 30, 2004, Karen Grady, review of Big Fish, p. 6.

Film Comment, November-December, 1994, Gavin Smith, "Punching Holes in Reality: Tim Burton," p. 52.

Hollywood Reporter, January 26, 2005, Sheigh Crabtree, "Teamwork Was Recipe for 'Charlie' Eye Candy," p. 18.

Life, November, 1993, pp. 103-104.

Literature/Film Quarterly, Volume 31, number 1, 2003, Susan M. Bernardo, "The Bloody Battle of the Sexes in Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow,'" pp. 39-43.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April, 2000, Kathi Maio, "Outsiders: Looking In, and Peering Out," p. 72.

New Republic, July 31, 1989, p. 24; July 27, 1992, pp. 46-47.

New Statesman & Society, July 26, 1991, p. 32.

Newsweek, June 26, 1988, pp. 72-73; January 21, 1991, pp. 58-60; November 1, 1993, p. 72; December 23, 1996, David Ansen, review of Mars Attacks!, p. 67; November 22, 1999, Jeff Giles, "The Headless Horseman Rides Again," p. 91; August 6, 2001, Jeff Giles, "The Trouble with Hairy," p. 58; December 15, 2003, David Ansen, "Reeling in a 'Fish,'" p. 62.

New York, May 2, 1988, p. 95; July 13, 1992, pp. 63-64; November 22, 1999, Vanessa Grigoriadis, "Hollow Man," p. 50.

New Yorker, June 29, 1992, pp. 71-72; December 15, 2003, Anthony Lane, review of Big Fish, p. 119.

New York Times Magazine, April 9, 1989, pp. 45-46, 50, 53, 59-60.

People, July 3, 1989, p. 13; July, 8, 1991, p. 14; November 22, 1993, pp. 73-74; November 29, 1999, Cecilia Roth, review of Sleepy Hollow, p. 41; December 15, 2003, Leah Rozen, review of Big Fish, p. 29; July 25, 2005, Leah Rozen, review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, p. 31.

Premiere, October, 1990, p. 73; January 1991, pp. 96-100; December, 2000, Marion Hart, review of "Stainboy," p. 100; July, 2001, Mark Salisbury, "Gorillas Just Want to Have Fun," p. 54.

Rolling Stone, July 9-23, 1992; November 11, 1993, pp. 80-81; December 9, 1999, Peter Travers, review of Sleepy Hollow, p. 89; August 30, 2001, Peter Travers, review of Planet of the Apes, pp. 131-132.

Time, April 11, 1988, p. 69; June 22, 1992, pp. 69-71; December 30, 1996, Richard Schickel, review of Mars Attacks!, p. 166; November 22, 1999, Richard Corliss, "Tim Burton's Tricky Treat," p. 102; December 1, 2003, Josh Tyrangiel, "Big Fish in His Own Pond," p. 88; July 18, 2005, Richard Schickel, review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, p. 72.

Us Weekly, December, 1999, Dennis Hensley, "Faces and Places: Tim Burton," p. 34.

Variety, November 13, 2000, Ramin Zahed, review of "Stainboy," p. S45; July 30, 2001, Todd McCarthy, review of Planet of the Apes, p. 17.

Vogue, July, 1992, pp. 142-145, 194; September, 1992, pp. 304, 319, 322, 324, 330.

Washington Post, December 16, 1990.

Wilson Library Bulletin, November, 1988, pp. 100-101.

Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, NC), February 2, 2004, Salem Norfleet-Neff, review of Big Fish, p. D1.

Burton, Tim

views updated May 14 2018


Nationality: American. Born: Burbank, California, 1958. Education: Studied animation at California Institute of Arts, B.A., 1981. Family: Married Lena Gieseke, February 1989 (divorced). Career: Cartoonist since grade school in Burbank; animator, Walt Disney Studios, Hollywood, California, 1981–85; director and producer of feature films, 1985—. Awards: Chicago Film Festival Award, for Vincent, 1982; ShoWest Award, for Director of the Year, 1990; Emmy Award (with others) for outstanding animated program, for Beetlejuice, 1990. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, California, 90212.

Films as Director:


Vincent (animated short); Frankenweenie (live-action short)


Pee-Wee's Big Adventure






Edward Scissorhands (+ co-sc, pr)


Batman Returns (+ co-pr)


Ed Wood (+ co-pr)


Mars Attacks! (+ co-pr, co-sc)


Sleepy Hollow

Other Films:


Singles (role)


Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas (co-sc, co-pr, des)


Cabin Boy (co-pr); A Century of Cinema (Caroline Thomas) (as himself)


Batman Forever (exec pr)


By BURTON: books—

The Nightmare before Christmas (for children), New York, 1993.

My Art and Films, New York, 1993.

With Mark Salisbury, Burton on Burton, New York, 1995.

Burton (for children), New York, 2000.

By BURTON: articles—

Interviews, in Los Angeles Times, 12 August 1990; 7 December 1990; 12 March 1992; 14 June 1992.

Interview, in Washington Post, 16 December 1990.

"Slice of Life," an interview with Brian Case, in Time Out (London), 19 June 1991.

"Introduction," in Matthew Rolston, Big Pictures, Boston, 1991.

Interviews, in Chicago Tribune, 14 June 1992; 28 June 1992.

Interview, in Vogue, July 1992.

"Punching Holes in Reality," an interview with Gavin Smith, in FilmComment, November/December 1994.

"Space Probe," an interview with Nigel Floyd, in Time Out (London), 19 February 1997.

Interview with Christian Viviani and Michael Henry, in Positif (Paris), March 1997.

Bondy, J.A., "Intervju," in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol 30. no. 2, 1997.

Article in Andrew Kevin Walker, The Art of Sleepy Hollow, New York, 2000(?).

On BURTON: book—

Hanke, Ken, Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of theFilmmaker, Los Angeles, 1999.

On BURTON: articles—

Corliss, Richard, "A Sweet and Scary Treat: The Nightmare beforeChristmas," in Time, 11 October 1993.

Thompson, Caroline, "On Tim Burton," in New Yorker, 21 March 1994.

Maio, Kathi, "Sick Puppy Auteur?," in The Magazine of Fantasyand Science Fiction, May 1994.

Krohn, Bill, "Tim Burton, de Disney à Ed Wood," in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), January 1994.

Positif (Paris), June 1995.

Jean, Marcel, "Les effets d'une épidémie," in 24 Images (Montreal), December-January 1995–1996.

Jean, Marcel, "Carnet de notes sur le corps martien," in 24 Images (Montreal), Spring 1997.

Knuutila, P., "Tim Burton," in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol. 39, no. 2, 1997.

* * *

Although in the last resort I find his work more distinctive than distinguished, Tim Burton compels interest and attention by the way in which he has established within the Hollywood mainstream a cinema that is, to say the least, highly eccentric, idiosyncratic, and personal.

Burton's cinema is centered firmly on the figure of what I shall call (for want of a better term, and knowing that this one is now "politically incorrect") the freak. I define this as a person existing quite outside the bounds of the conventional notion of normality, usually (but not exclusively, as I include Burton's Ed Wood in this) because of some extreme physical peculiarity. Every one of the films, without exception, is built around at least one freak. One must then subdivide them into two categories: the "positive" freaks, who at least mean well, and the "negative" freaks, who are openly malignant. In the former category, in order of appearance: Pee-Wee Herman (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure), Edward Scissorhands, Catwoman (Batman Returns), Jack (The Nightmare before Christmas), Ed Wood; in the latter, the Joker (Batman) and the Penguin (Batman Returns). Beetlejuice (or "Betelgeuse") belongs ambiguously to both categories, though predominantly to the latter; to which one might also add, without stretching things too far, Riddler and Two-Face from Batman Forever—watered-down Burton, produced by him but written and directed by others, still owing a great deal to his influence. If one leaves aside Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and The Nightmare before Christmas (which Burton conceived and produced but did not direct), this gives us an alternative but exactly parallel division: three films with Michael Keaton, two with Johnny Depp (who might well have played Jack in The Nightmare before Christmas had Burton opted to make it as a live-action film).

Of the malignant freaks, Danny de Vito's Penguin is at once the most grotesque (to the verge of unwatchability) and the only one with an excuse for his malignancy: unlike the others he was born a freak, cast out and presumed to die by his parents, surviving by chance. The Joker and (if one permits the inclusion) Two-Face are physical freaks because of disfigurement, but this has merely intensified a malignancy already there. They are colorful and vivid, but not especially interesting: they merely embody a somewhat simplistic notion of evil, the worked-up energy of the over-the-top performances a means of concealing the essential emptiness at the conceptual level.

The benign freaks are more interesting. They are invariably associated with creativity: Pee-Wee, Edward Scissorhands, and Ed Wood are all artists, of a kind every bit as idiosyncratic as their creator's. This is set, obviously, against the determined destructiveness of the malignant freaks, who include in this respect Beetlejuice: the film's sympathetic characters (notably Winona Ryder) may find him necessary at times, but his dominant characteristic is a delight in destruction for its own sake. What gives the positive freaks (especially those played by Johnny Depp) an extra dimension is their extreme fragileness and vulnerability (the negative freaks always regard themselves, however misguidedly, as invincible).

Credit must be given to Burton's originality and inventiveness: he is an authentic artist in the sense that he is so clearly personally involved in and committed to his peculiar vision and its realization in film. What equally demands to be questioned is the degree of real intelligence underlying these qualities. The inventiveness is all on the surface, in the art direction, makeup, special effects. The conceptual level of the films does not bear very close scrutiny. The problem is there already, and in a magnified form, in Beetlejuice: the proliferation of invention is too grotesque and ugly to be funny, too wild, arbitrary, and unselfcritical to reward any serious analysis. The two Batman movies are distinguished by the remarkably dark vision (in a film one might expect to be "family entertainment") of contemporary urban/industrial civilization. But Michael Keaton's Batman, while unusually and mercifully restrained, fails to make any strong impression, and one is thrown back on the freaks who, with one notable exception, quickly outstay their welcome. The exception is Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman (in Batman Returns), and that is due primarily to one of the great screen presences of our time. Burton's overall project (in his work as a whole) seems to be to set his freaks (both positive and negative) against "normality" in order to show that normality, today, is every bit as weird: a laudable enough project, most evident in Edward Scissorhands. But the depiction of normality in that film (here, small-town suburbia) amounts to no more than amiable, simple-minded parody (despite the charm of Dianne Wiest's Avon Lady, but her role dwindles as the film proceeds). For all the grotesquerie of his monsters, Burton's cinema is ultimately too soft-centered, lacking in rigor and real thinking. Ed Wood, however, may be taken as evidence that Burton is beginning to transcend the limitations of his previous work: it is far and away his most satisfying film to date. Here is surely one of cinema's most touching celebrations of the sheer joy of creativity with the irony, of course, that it is manifested in an "artist" of no talent whatever. Johnny Depp, in what is surely, with Pfeiffer's Catwoman, one of the two most complex and fully realized incarnations in Burton's work, magically conveys his character's absolute belief in the value of his own creations and his own personal joy and excitement in creating them, never realizing that they will indeed go down in film history as topping everyone's list of the worst films ever made. Yet his Ed Wood never strikes us as merely stupid: simply as a man completely caught up in his own delight in creative activity—always longing for recognition, but never self-serving or mercenary. This self-delusion, at once marvelous and pathetic, goes hand in hand with his growing compassion for and commitment to the decrepit and drug-addicted Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau, in a performance that, for once, fully deserved its Oscar), and his equally delusory conviction that Lugosi is still a great star.

Burton's two recent films, Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow, neatly illustrate, respectively, his weaknesses and strengths. Mars Attacks!, a parody both of Independence Day and the science fiction invasion cycle of the 1950s, opens promisingly, apparently initiating a mordant satire on contemporary American civilization, the Martians' approach to Earth, and the possibility that they represent a more advanced and enlightened culture producing a cross-section of possible reactions from a wide range of cultural positions, presented as variously vacuous, irrelevant, or self-serving. From the point where the Martians turn out to be, after all, stereotypically malevolent, within any redeeming features whatever, all that is lost: the film has nowhere to go, and disintegrates into a series of obvious gags ranging from the gratuitously ugly and grotesque (the fates of Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Jessica Parker) to the merely childish.

Sleepy Hollow is built around the talent and persona of Johnny Depp, star of the two most distinguished of Burton's previous films (which can scarcely be coincidental). Once again, the collaboration with Depp brings out all Burton's finest qualities, an aesthetic and emotional sensibility totally absent from the majority of his work. The film's horrors are grotesque but never offered as funny, becoming a perfect foil for Depp's essential gentleness, elegance, and underlying strength. The art direction shows Burton and his designer at their finest, creating effects that are at once frightening, beautiful, and authentically strange. It seems clear that Tim Burton needs Johnny Depp more than Johnny Depp needs Tim Burton.

—Robin Wood

Burton, Tim 1958(?)–

views updated May 23 2018

BURTON, Tim 1958(?)


Full name, Timothy William Burton; born August 25, 1958 (some sources cite 1960), in Burbank, CA; son of Bill (a minor league baseball player and parks department sports coordinator) and Jean (a shop manager) Burton; married Lena Gieseke (a photographer), February 24, 1989 (separated, 1991); children: (with actress Helena Bonham Carter) one son. Education: Studied animation at California Institute of the Arts, 197980.

Addresses: Agent Mike Simpson, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist Kristin Borella, Bumble Ward and Associates Public Relations, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 340, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Career: Director, animator, producer, and writer. Walt Disney Productions, cartoon artist and apprentice animator, including work on The Fox and the Hound, 1981, Vincent, 1982, Frankenweenie, 1984, and The Black Cauldron, 1985; Tim Burton Productions, founder, 1989. Also animator of the films The Island of Doctor Agor, 1971, Stalk of the Celery (also known as Stalk of the Celery Monster ), 1979, and Tron, 1982. Director of television commercials, beginning 1998.

Awards, Honors: Walt Disney fellow, California Institute of the Arts, 197980; Chicago Film Festival Award, 1982, for Vincent; ShoWest Award, director of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1990, for Batman; Emmy Award, outstanding animated program (with others), 1990, for Beetlejuice; nomination for Golden Palm, Cannes International Film Festival, 1995, and nomination for Silver Condor, best foreign film, Argentinian Film Critics Association, 1996, both for Ed Wood; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best animated or mixed media picture, International Press Academy, 1997, for Mars Attacks!; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best animated or mixed media motion picture (with others), 1997, for James and the Giant Peach; Saturn Award nomination, best director, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, and nomination for Silver Ribbon, best director of a foreign film, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, both 2000, for Sleepy Hollow; Leo Award, best writing in a music, comedy, or variety program or series (with others), 2002, for Point Blank.


Film Director:

(And producer) Stalk of the Celery (also known as Stalk of the Celery Monster ), 1979.

(And producer) Luau, 1982.

(And production designer) Vincent (animated short film), Buena Vista, 1982.

Frankenweenie (animated), Buena Vista, 1984.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Warner Bros., 1985.

Beetlejuice, Warner Bros., 1988.

Batman, Warner Bros., 1989.

(And producer, with Denise DiNovi) Edward Scissorhands, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1990.

(And producer, with DiNovi) Batman Returns, Warner Bros., 1992.

(And producer, with DiNovi) Ed Wood, Buena Vista, 1994.

Vincent and Me, 1995.

(And producer) Mars Attacks!, Warner Bros., 1996.

Sleepy Hollow, Paramount, 1999.

Planet of the Apes, Twentieth CenturyFox, 2001.

Big Fish, Columbia, 2003.

Film Producer:

(With Denise DiNovi; and production designer) Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas (also known as The Nightmare before Christmas ), Buena Vista, 1993.

(With DiNovi) Cabin Boy, Buena Vista, 1994.

Batman Forever (also known as Forever ), Warner Bros., 1995.

James and the Giant Peach, Buena Vista, 1996.

Film Appearances:

Mortie (the Supreme Being), Luau, 1982.

Brian, Singles, Warner Bros., 1992.

Himself, A Century of Cinema, 1994.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Premiere: Inside the Summer Blockbusters, Fox, 1989.

Fox/MTV Guide to Summer '92, Fox, 1992.

The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin, CBS, 1992.

Interviewee, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: A TNT Special Edition, TNT, 1994.

Masters of Illusion: The Wizards of Special Effects, 1994.

Freaks, Nerds, and Weirdos: An MTV News Special Report, MTV, 1994.

Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre, 2000.

The Making of "Planet of the Apes, " 2001.

Interviewee, Planet of the Apes: Rule the Planet, Fox, 2001.

The Inside Reel: Digital Filmmaking, PBS, 2001.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Ben, "The Quality of Mercy," Twice in a Lifetime, 1999.

Guest, The Martin Short Show, syndicated, 1999.

Guest, Exposure, SciFi Channel, 2000.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

AZ of Horror (also known as Clive Barker's AZ of Horror ), BBC (England), 1997.

Television Work; Series:

Creator and executive producer, Beetlejuice (animated series), c. 1990.

Producer, Batman: The Animated Series, Fox, 19921993.

Creator (with Steven Spielberg) and executive producer, Family Dog (series), CBS, 1993.

Television Director; Episodic:

"The Jar," Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC, 1986.

"Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp," Faerie Tale Theatre (also known as Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre ), Showtime, 1986.

Television Work; Other:

Director, Hansel and Gretel, 1982.

Executive producer, Lost in Oz (pilot; also known as Tim Burton's Lost in Oz ), syndicated, 2000.



Himself, Sleepy Hollow: Behind the Legend, Paramount/Mandalay Pictures, 2000.



The Island of Doctor Agor (animated), 1971.

Stalk of the Celery (animated; also known as Stalk of the Celery Monster ), 1979.

Luau, 1982.

Vincent (animated short film), Buena Vista, 1982.

Mars Attacks!, Warner Bros., 1996.

Television Episodes:

Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC, 1986.

Television Writing; Other:

Lost in Oz (pilot; also known as Tim Burton's Lost in Oz ), syndicated, 2000.

Point Blank (series), 2002.


My Art and Films, HarperCollins, 1993.

The Nightmare before Christmas Popup Book, Mouse Works, 1993.

Burton on Burton, edited by Mark Salisbury, Faber & Faber, 1995.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Bay and Other Stories, Morrow, 1997.

Contributor to books, including The Art of Sleepy Hollow, Pocket Books, 1999.


(Creator, writer, and director) Stainboy (animated Internet series), Shockwave.com, 2000.


The 1982 television program Hansel and Gretel was based on an idea by Burton. The film Frankenweenie, released by Buena Vista in 1984, was based on an idea by Burton. Episodes of the television series Amazing Stories (also known as Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories ), broadcast by NBC in 1987, were based on animation and character designs by Burton. The television series Family Dog, broadcast by CBS in 1993, was also based on Burton's character designs. The film Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas, released by Buena Vista in 1993, was based on a story and characters created by Burton. The film Beetlejuice, released by Warner Bros. in 1988, was based on a story by Burton. The film Edward Scissorhands, released by Twentieth CenturyFox in 1990, was based on a story by Burton and Caroline Thompson.



Burton, Tim, My Art and Films, HarperCollins, 1993.

Henke, Ken, Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker, Renaissance Books, 1999.

Salisbury, Mark, editor, Burton on Burton, Faber & Faber, 1995.


Empire, Issue 93, 1997, pp. 6875.

Film Review, February, 2000, pp. 6263.

Harper's Bazaar, September, 1994.

Interview, December, 1990, pp. 11013.

Neon, March, 1997, pp. 3641.

Newsweek, April 9, 1999, p. 66.

Radio Times, August 17, 2002, p. 42.

Rolling Stone, July 9, 1992.

Starlog, March, 1991; July, 1992; January, 1997.

Total Film, February, 2000, pp. 5056.

Vanity Fair, November, 1994.

Village Voice, October 4, 1994.

Washington Post, July 29, 2001, pp. G1, G6.