Tim Burton's Fairy Tales

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Tim Burton is an animator, screenwriter, director, and illustrator, best known for the dark, twisted, cinematic flair that his films contain, along with a smooth blend of horror and fantasy. Inspired by animator Walt Disney, and writers Roald Dahl and Edgar Allan Poe, it’s no surprise that many of Burton’s films focus on fairy tales. But, unlike many fairy tales, Burton’s fairy tales contain dark tones and moods that many fairy tales lack. Burton emphasizes these dark tones by manipulating lighting to emphasize the dark aspects of fairy tales that many adaptations simply glance over. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands, and Alice in Wonderland, Burton uses high key lighting, low key lighting, and back lighting to emphasize…show more content…
For example, as Peg Boggs discovers Edward’s castle for the first time, a dark shadow casts on the top floor of Edward’s home. As Edward slowly emerges from the shadows, backlighting focuses on Edward’s face, and most specifically his scars, self inflicted by his own disability. With backlighting, most would believe that this effect was intended to emphasize the evilness of Edward. In many fairy tales, backlighting is used to achieve this effect. However, this is not the case. In this scene, Tim Burton uses backlighting to expose the innocence of Edward, and the cruelty of his life that was spent in a dark castle, alone. After slowly coming out of the shadows, Peg Boggs, is deeply saddened by the loneliness Edward has to suffer from day after day, and decides to take Edward into her own home. On the drive home, the audience and characters are astounded by Peg’s neighborhood. Bright, high key lighting floods her neighborhood, saturating the pastel colored houses, as if to make these colors even brighter. Like many fairy tales, in this scene Edward is being taken from a drabby life to a whole new happier life. However, Burton directs high key lighting differently. Tim Burton utilizes this to contrast the darkness of Edward’s life to the brightness of everyone else’s life. After settling into Pegg’s home, in a typical…show more content…
Time and time again, fairy tales often depict the “good” character receiving the happy ending. Whether it be getting married, being set free, or defeating the enemy, fairy tales always end on a happy note for this “good character.” In Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton exposes this truth using high key lighting. When Alice presents the Vorpal Sword to the White Queen, her purity is the first thing she notices. Along with her graceful movements and gentle voice, the White Queen’s purity is supported by strong, pale, high key lighting which accentuates the pale tone of the White Queen’s face. The representation of the Queen’s purity represents her pure goodness and how tragically her kingdom was ripped from her. Tim Burton takes advantage of this lighting to show that although the White Queen is undeniably righteous and graceful, her happy ending did not remain for long after Alice had left as a child. In addition, in Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton uses low key lighting to emphasize the innocence of a character. As soon as Alice arrives in Wonderland, conflict occurs. Citizens of Wonderland begin to argue and bicker about the “real Alice.” Alice soon insists that she is not the “correct Alice,” due to her not wanting to slay a dragon. Because of this, Alice, along with several citizens of Wonderland, begin to
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