Since he first burst onto the movie scene with his 1985 debut film Pee-wee's Big Adventure, director Tim Burton has amassed a reputation as one of the Hollywood's most unique and creative visual artists. In this documentary, Screen Rant attempts to dissect the influences the helped to shape Burton's unusual vision, and the peaks and valleys that have since come to characterize his career.
Over the course of a somewhat breathless 30-minute presentation, the filmmakers recount the echoes of Burton's childhood that you can already sense from his body of work, including his sense of alienation, his icy distance from his parents, and the classic monster movies that kept him company from an early age. Finding his initial expressions as an innovative artist, he further developed his skills and began transitioning into cinematic forms while studying at the California Institute of the Arts. A job as a Disney animator soon followed, though Burton's macabre vision was ill-suited for the company at the time.
The film contains a generous array of indelible imagery and film clips that do a fair job of representing the various stages of Burton's illustrious career. Many of these images have left a lasting impression on popular culture. We witness the visual evidence that connects the Gotham City of Batman to the masterpieces of German Expressionism. We appreciate the contrasts between the unique worlds Burton created for films like Planet of the Apes, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow. We learn of Burton's reliance on anthropomorphism, a process that assigns human characteristics to animals or objects in his stop-motion works.
Finally, the film explores how Burton's career has come full circle as he's enjoyed unprecedented success with his live action adaptations of animated Disney classics like Dumbo. Along the way, the film introduces us to some of Burton's most frequent collaborators who have aided him in realizing his artistic vision for several decades.
Attractively produced and well observed, Tim Burton: the Twisted Story of the Eccentric Filmmaker is a brief, but satisfying dive into the work of singular cinematic artist.