He has reflected his inner child on screen for decades. With his head held proudly in dark clouds, Tim Burton has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Disneyland. His Jack Skellington character possesses the park's Haunted Mansion, and the director of Alice in Wonderland is currently working on the live-action version of Dumbo to be released in 2019.
Among his 38 directorial credits, eight include Johnny Depp in the lead, and sixteen with music by Danny Elfman. Elfman, whom Burton had appreciated as the brains behind the pop band Oingo Boingo, has said that after he wrote the music for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) his career went "from zero to ninety."
That film was Burton's big breakthrough, and features moments of stop-motion animation, which was associated at that time with holiday TV specials.
Burton's primary work melds classic characters and set designs (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis) with stories related to younger-skewing pop culture favorites from the 1960s and '70s (Batman, Planet of the Apes , Dark Shadows). Generally composed of equal parts Gothic atmosphere, romance, and laughs, Tim Burton's films have the controlled look of a German set. Indeed, just as Fritz Lang built a fake forest for Siegfried, Burton built one for Sleepy Hollow (1999).
As Burton's version of Ichabod Crane, Johnny Depp takes on the sensitive, sallow-faced archetype which predominates the director's work. As Edward Scissorhands in 1990, Depp set the high-bar with a tousle-haired Goth look evoking Conrad Veidt's Somnambulist and somehow always reflecting Burton.
It is his undying obsession with all things Halloween that undoubtedly defines Burton in the public mind. Depp stars in most of the best: Sweeney Todd, Dark Shadows, and primarily Sleepy Hollow--which, while dark enough for events to revolve around a series of decapitations, still manages to refer to the Disney cartoon version of Washington Irving's tale.
Burton's other masterpiece, 1988's Beetlejuice, boasts Michael Keaton as "the ghost with the most." (Both films feature a sudden stop-motion animation creepy moment as first seen in Pee-Wee.) Fans of the quirky cult classic will be knocked dead to hear that Burton's Beetlejuice sequel, again starring Keaton, is in the works.
Stewart Kirby writes for