Paris is the current host of Tim Burton’s exposition after new york among other cities. While I let many events pass-by, often with a great intention to visit and never did in the end, I hurried to see Tim Burton, one of my favorite creators.
His works, be it movies, books, paintings often explode into a grand impression lined with a subtle but consistent aftertaste, completely opposite of the initial grandeur yet unforgettable. To say I am touched is an understatement. At each turn, there is a mix of emotions, to laugh, to cry, to feel angry, to regret, to cheer. It is in his unique characters here the soul of his work resides. Maybe I am biased but he is for me one of the greatest artist with his unique view of reality either in cotton candied colors or gothic monotones.
In colors, his works show show the juxtaposition of darkness in light. From the colors of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to “Alice in Wonderland”, the imaginary world in these stories are heightened with neon like colors. Yet, there is the loneliness of the red queen, the insightfulness of the mad hatter and a broken Willy Wonker. Sure the hero is still the beautiful, kind and good. But the villain or lesser characters has a past, a reason and maybe deserves a little understanding and often more interesting.
But it is the colorless characters that holds the greatest depth and seeks to reach furthest into our hearts. Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeny Todd, each has a story of revenge, acceptance, shame, something dark within them in spite of themselves. Who can blame Jack Skellington, king of Halloween to want a change for happiness, the Corpse Bride to find love and be with him for eternity, Edward to want to hold and experience human touch. Yet the most basic needs of human beings are foreign and unattainable for them. It’s heartbreaking yet we laugh at their dreams because we knew, it can never be.
And so it is, from the oyster boy to stain boy, from stick man to match girl, his comic characters gave us laughter at the expense of their impossible plight. Mr. Burton himself wrote that when he was younger, he experienced the challenge of being accepted for his difference. And we can only be so glad that he had not conform and lost his difference.
The exposition is a collection of his drawings and clips of his movies. Other than what is accessible already in books and movies, there is also notes and his thought process in creating his characters. There is incredible courage in testing the limit to seek fulfillment of his vision.
And then, there is the survival of his characters, who found life in laughing at themselves. And we can do so well not to take ourselves too seriously, let out a laugh, find humor in an impossible situation.
In the end, what is unforgettable is the little stain boy who was said to have no extraordinary capabilities like spiderman or batman. But he stains. Maybe Tim Burton didn’t put a dent in the world but he has certainly tainted it with his colors and darkness. You’ve given us so much to write about and so much to savor. I wish I can write on and on about each of your characters, my beloved. Nice work stain boy!