An Eye On Culture
‘Frankenweenie’ Is Another Sterling Tim Burton Gem
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Saturday night around 9 p.m., I tweeted “Frankenweenie is another Tim Burton masterpiece.” #truth. Quite frankly, truer words have never been spoken.
While I have recently learned that the Box Office sales of Frankenweenie didn’t reflect my extreme enthusiasm for the movie (bringing in only $11 million in its first weekend), I have to be frank again, I really don’t care. The film is another great, heartwarming story by the incredible duo of Tim Burton and musical composer Danny Elfman, another notch in their belt that I applaud. This time, Burton pulls on the heartstrings even more than usual by centering his story on an adorable, loyal dog that is truly man’s best friend to the elementary school aged Victor Frankenstein.
I have to admit though, that I am extremely biased. I am a Burton fanatic. Something on another Burton note I neglected to tweet about that night was my mad dash to the Best Buy next door to purchase The Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD, one of my top five favorite movies of all time. The new movie just got me in the mood for the old stuff. As soon as I got home, I made some green tea and got cozy with Jack Skellington.
I must have watched our Nightmare on VHS at least 200 times when I was a kid. Whenever I tell people how obsessed I was with the movie as a child, they’re mystified about how I wasn’t scared by it. Perhaps that says a lot about me as a person and it may have very well been the first of my strange interests (now I have many), but regardless, I was in love.
With time to reflect on the love, while still in love, I have come to understand why I fell so hard for Burton and the Halloween Town crew. The story sheds a new light on the misunderstood bunch and shows that there’s more to them than screams. The world that Burton creates is unbelievable, not only through the extreme detail of the clay-mation figurines and eerie yet charming setting, but also the story itself. While the plot is seemingly bizarre and random, Jack Skellington’s desire to break free of his ghoulish reputation and embark on a new lifestyle filled with tinsel, presents, and apple pie speaks to something in all of us: a desire to reach for something unattainable, only to realize that you had what you wanted all along.
While I don’t have many soundtracks on my iPod, the Nightmare soundtrack is a staple. I don’t need to be in a certain “mood” to listen to the somewhat seasonal, mostly cartoony songs. I listen to them as if they’re real songs, because they are. Even though essentially a puppet is singing, the music is incredible. Elfman’s lyrics are perfectly emotive and poignant without being too over the top and cheesy (adjectives I would have to attach to some musical scores). Honestly, I’ve been known to shed a tear or two while listening to and watching the film.
My senior year of high school, I used the clay-mation Skellington as the subject for an important philosophy paper simply titled, “Jack Skellington: The Pumpkin King and Existentialism,” describing how Skellington is expressing his own freedom despite his facticity. Silly? Maybe. But I’d like to think Sartre would be proud.
Burton is a creative genius. Clearly all of his movies have some overarching themes and consistencies that some people may find overdone or cliched, but he has undeniably produced amazing films during his career: Sleepy Hollow, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mars Attacks!, and of course, Edward Scissorhands, one of the saddest movies of all time in my book. Profoundly impacted and somewhat disturbed by his upbringing in suburban California (Scissorhands finally makes sense, right?), Burton often retreated into himself, journaled, and doodled on the back of homework and on tables, which were all exhibited at the MoMA in NYC in 2009. Many of his films are drawn from ideas he birthed during childhood.
Burton is filled with and certainly doesn’t shy away from the dark quirkiness that exists in all of us, yet he has a coveted understanding of the human condition, and that is something truly incredible. Channel your inner quirky side and disregard the box office numbers and movies reviews. Go see Frankenweenie.