Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Burton, Tim

(1960-    ) US movie director, animator, writer and producer, currently rivalled only by Steven Spielberg as the creator of sure-fire hit fantasy movies (see Cinema); almost all of his feature movies are discussed individually in this encyclopedia. Those he has directed include Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1991) and Ed Wood (1994), the last being a biography of the "world's worst movie director", Edward D Wood Jr (1922-1978), responsible for such genre favourites as Plan 9 From Outer Space (1958). TB revived the Comics hero Batman with Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), both of which he directed, and Batman Forever (1995), which he co-produced (see Batman Movies). He also produced The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), based on his own story. There can be little doubting the power of TB's directorial vision, yet there is a distancing effect in many of his movies – notably Edward Scissorhands and his two Batman outings: it is as if TB were trying to emphasize that the events are occurring in an artificial Polder rather than in any version of reality, so that his characters seem not real people coping with real emotions but merely roles being enacted at a director's behest; one cares for them as much or as little as one would care for a wooden puppet. TB's timing is also suspect: his Batman movies are slow, and even Nightmare, otherwise brilliant, ends in a rush, as if TB were eager to wrap the project up quick. Perhaps his most fascinating piece of animation is Vincent (1982), a short he made during his apprenticeship at Disney. [JG]

Tim Burton


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.