Timothy Walter Burton (photo ©Gage Skidmore) was born on August 25, 1958 in Burbank, California, USA.
Tim Burton developed a passion for cinema since his childhood and started experimenting with animations and with an 8 mm camera. To learn the secrets of directing he watched many movies of various genres but in particular he watched horror movies such as those of Hammer and adaptations of the stories by Edgar Allan Poe, an author he liked very much, played by Vincent Price.
In the early 1980s, Tim Burton started making short films while studying at the California Institute of the Arts. This attracted the attention of Disney, that offered him an apprenticeship. In those years he also made some experiences as a television director and with other short films.
The actor Paul Reubens, known in the USA for his character of Pee-wee Herman, saw Tim Burton’s short film “Frankenweenie” and proposed him to Warner as a director for a movie with his character as a protagonist. That’s how Burton’s first feature film, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”, came out in 1985. Budget and production times were limited but the movie was successful.
For a while Tim Burton still worked for television but in 1988 he released his second movie, “Beetlejuice”, where he worked for the first time with Michael Keaton. The movie is a mix of fantasy and horror with strong comedy tones that succeeded and also won an Oscar for makeup. The following year, Burton also produced an animated TV show based on the movie.
After the first successes, Tim Burton was chosen to direct “Batman” (1989). The director wanted to work again with Michael Keaton, choosing him for the protagonist role. The choice raised controversy and there were other problems during its production. Despite this, the movie was a success of public and even the criticisms were mostly positive leading to the production of a sequel, “Batman Returns” (1992).
In 1990 “Edward Scissorhands” was released, of which Tim Burton was director, producer and author of the subject. As a protagonist he chose Johnny Depp, the beginning of a collaboration that went on over the years. It was also one of the last performances by Vincent Price.
In 1994 “Ed Wood” was released, of which Tim Burton was director and producer, a biographical movie about the man who was defined as the worst director in the world. It had little public success but Martin Landau won the Oscar, the Golden Globe and other awards as best supporting actor and the make-up artists won the Oscar for best makeup.
In 1996 “Mars Attacks!” was released, a parody of the so-called science fiction B movies with elements that include black comedy and political satire. The cast is full of stars but the critics remained divided but it had good public success. Tim Burton has always maintained that the similarities with “Independence Day” were totally accidental.
With the movie “The Sleepy Hollow Mystery” (1999), Tim Burton returned to stories with horror inspirations and in particular to Hammer movies obtaining a good success with the public and critics.
Another sharp change of genre came with the 2001 film “Planet of the Apes”, a new adaptation of the novel by Pierre Boulle. It was a public success but the criticism was divided.
With the movie “Big Fish” from 2003 Tim Burton returned to the fantasy genre, continuing with “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” (2003) and The Corpse Bride (2005). “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007) is of horror genre and in recent years Burton alternated between these genres with “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), “Dark Shadows” (2012) and “Frankenweenie” (2012). The exception is “Big Eyes”, a biography of the painter Margaret Keane, but he returned to fantasy with “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (2016).
Tim Burton has also produced a sequel to one of his movies, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (2016). In 2019 the release of “Dumbo” is scheduled, of which he’s director and producer, and “Beetlejuice 2” is in production, and again he’s director and producer.
Tim Burton is a director with a unique style with fantasy stories that have typically misfit and eccentric protagonists, often between life and death told by really special perspectives.