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Interview with Tim Burton by James Luxford

The “Edward Scissorhands” filmmaker on his new film, animation, and being part of the mainstream.

Tim Burton has gone from oddball Disney outcast to one of the most celebrated directors of his generation. Since his beginnings in the early 80’s, his dark vision has captivated fans around the world, and this continues with his latest work, animated film “Frankenweenie”.

Based on a short he made at the start of his career, it is the story of a young boy whom is devastated whom his beloved dog dies, and decides to bring him back to life, with macabre and dire consequences. The film opened last year’s London Film Festival, something Burton was ecstatic about. “It is special because it was made here” he explains. “It’s strange, when we first started the film there was no Olympic Stadium and by the time we finished it, it was all over so that tells you how long this took to make!”

The film is released through Disney, the very studio that fired him several decades ago when he was one of their animators, reportedly because his visions were too ‘dark’! “Well, it wasn’t like The Apprentice: ‘You’re fired!’ No one pointed there finger. It was a bit more Disney friendly. It was like: ‘Here…’ And I was guided to this nice little exit with little cherubs on it” he recalls, chuckling. “It was a strange period in the company’s history. It’s changed over the years and it’s a whole different place now. It was also a low point for animation, not just for Disney but for everything.”

The film is made in stop-motion, an almost old-fashioned method of animation compared to the modern, ‘Pixar-style’ films released today. “Well, from my point of view I feel and I hope that all forms of animation are still alive” he says when asked if CGI has taken over animation as a whole. “I remember a few years ago, after Pixar took off and computer animation took off, that Disney said they weren’t going to make any more hand-drawn movies. And I thought that was really unfortunate. But thankfully they changed their minds on that and I hope it’s the same for stop-motion because I think it’s a beautiful art form and you hope that all forms of animation can flourish.

Finally, from being the film industry’s archetypal outcast, Burton now commands huge budgets on his movies, which often go on to gross billions of dollars at the box office. How does he feel about being part of the Hollywood mainstream? “Well, I’m still not so sure that’s true!” he jokes.

“Frankenweenie” is out on DVD now.

Follow Me on Twitter @JLuxfordFilm

James Luxford
About James Luxford (39 Articles)
Film journalist - all views my own