Saturday, October 6, 2012

How Sunny Burbank Spawned a Delightfully Dark Burton

Young Tim Burton with a Pony and Older Tim Burton with a Skeleton

Today I stumbled across a fantastic Entertainment Weekly article, at EW.com, about Tim Burton's formative years growing up on Evergreen Street in Burbank, California. 

While his hometown may have been decidedly un-gothic, and young Tim grew up feeling "strange and isolated", he did have the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery at the end of his street, which provided a sanctuary for him.
I guess it was a good place to think.
Many of the adults in Burton's young life apparently viewed him with a mix of frustration and dismay, but he was fortunate enough to have an art teacher who encouraged him, and with hindsight, he looks back on his Burbank upbringing with a certain appreciation.
“I felt quite miserable in a lot of ways and depressed. But no, I wouldn’t [change that], because it’s something that makes you who you are. I don’t think I would change anything, really, even though if you asked me back then I would have changed every single thing.” 





The picture of Burton as a child, in a Halloween skeleton costume made by his mother (above left), seems to foreshadow his Jack Skellington character, from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).



Tim Burton is pictured above, at the far left, with (left to right) his mother, dog Frosty, dog Pepe, and his brother, Daniel, holding a shrunken head bought by Tim. Pepe was the inspiration for Frankenweenie, which was first released as a live-action short in 1984, and is now a a stop-motion animated feature film. Frankenweenie is both a parody of, and homage to the 1931 film, Frankenstein, and also borrows from Burton's own childhood memories.

If you're a fan of Tim Burton, or even if you've ever felt like a misfit (in my case, both are true), it's an inspiring article. You can read it here.

24 comments:

  1. Wonderful post Emma and I can't wait to read the full article - thanks for the link. As with you, both a fan and a misfit! haha! Have a happy weekend! x

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    1. Hi Siobhan,

      Thank you! ❤ I'm very happy to hear that you're another member of the Burton fan/misfit club! We get all the very best people! ;) You have a happy weekend too!

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  2. Haha that picture of Tim as The Milky Way Kid is hilarious, it's hard to believe that the director we all know and love for his macabre imagination came from a childhood such as the one he had. If I was a young girl at that time I would gladly accompany him to Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery! I can't wait to see Frankenweenie! Will definitely be checking out that article! ~♥~

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    1. Hi Bella Morte,

      Hahaha! You're right! He just needs to slap on a pair of glasses and he's the Milky Bar Kid! I was thinking he looked like a mini version of Woody from 'Toy Story'. It's making me think of a photo I have of me in a nurse costume when I was a little kid. Utterly out of keeping with my personality! I wanted to dress-up as a vampire or Morticia Addams. Good one, Mum and Dad! ;)

      Yeah, I can imagine quite a few of us having a lovely time hanging out at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery with Tim Burton! :D I can't wait for 'Frankenweenie' either! It's not released here until October 25, but it will be a nice lead-in to the business end of the Halloween festivities.

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  3. Nice post and article Emma! Hoping Frankenweenie turns out ot be a blockbuster for him. probably go and see it this week.

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    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks so much! :) There seems to be a very positive buzz around 'Frankenweenie', so fingers crossed. I'm really looking forward to seeing it!

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  4. It's so true that our childhoods partially paint the adults we become, both the good and bad.
    I wouldn't change mine either now, but like Tim Burton it would have been completely different if you had asked me then!
    He's a wise man ;)

    He's a great inspiration and I love his work, thank you for posting this :)

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    1. Hi Laury,

      Yes, I agree, wise indeed! Bad experiences are often an inevitable component of the path that leads to the best things in our lives.

      Tim Burton is a great inspiration to me too! :)

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  5. Great post and beautiful blog!

    It's so interesting to see him as a child with early signs of his taste for the dark. It's also impressive that he would have had such a fixated preference during a time when there wasn't much to draw influence from.

    Looking forward to viewing Frankenweenie soon!

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    1. Hi delphinaluxe,

      Thank you so much! :)

      Yes, I guess in Tim Burton's case, a lot of his creativity comes less from external inspiration and more from a reaction against his uninspiring environment.

      I'm really looking forward to 'Frankenweenie' too!

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  6. Interesting article. Had no idea that he was such a misfit, though looking back at his work, it makes sense. Lots of misfits and outsiders in many of his movies.
    Love the pic with his family.

    Alice was weak and the trailers for Dark Shadows looked so lame, I had absolutely no interest in checking it out - but I'll definitely give Frankenweenie a chance. His animation films Nightmare Before Xmas & Corpse Bride were delightfully entertaining, and I'm sure he gets back on form with Frankie :)

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    1. Hi Maynard,

      Yes, the trials and tribulations of the misfit is a recurring theme in his films. Although I'm definitely a fan of his work, I can totally see how Tim Burton would not be everybody's cup of tea. :) Some of his movies are in amongst my all-time favourites, particularly 'Beetlejuice', a few, however, I'm a touch more "meh" about. I always find him fascinating though, especially his aesthetic.

      It's funny because I enjoyed 'Dark Shadows' while at the same time appreciating why someone else might loathe it. There was a surreal kookiness to it that I found kind of mesmerizing despite any flaws. I'm the first to admit that I'm a little peculiar though. Haha. I have high hopes for 'Frankenweenie'.

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  7. I'm LOVING this post!!! I recently went to a special 3D showing of Frankenweenie at Downtown Disney in Orlando, FL. They brought out all the cool stuff in celebration, including rare appearances to meet and greet Jack Skellington and Sally... working on a blog post for it now! ;)

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    1. Hi Annie,

      Thanks! Oh, a screening of 'Frankenweenie' at Downtown Disney sounds awesome! :D Can't wait for your blog post!

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  8. Awe - great post :) Love the costume his mom helped him put together - moms are awesome ! >:O O:0) ;)

    I grew up in a tiny town as well and feel nostalgic when I smell snow in the air... we had a small enough town that I was able to take winter walks at 2 am and go swinging on the school grounds no one was the wiser... I was so spoiled... but I knew it :) The fall and winters in Iowa are rough but the beauty nature displays as it slowly dies each seasons change was definitely relished... :).

    Long live small towns! :)

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    1. Hi lostsentiments,

      Yes, that skeleton costume is adorable! Aww... your hometown sounds lovely! You were lucky to grow up in such a picturesque place! :)

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  9. I really liked reading this. I'm trying to get more followers for my blog, The Fear Corner, and if you want, can you follow? Thank you:) thefearcorner.com

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  10. Brilliant post and good article, it's all stuff I've kind of read before though. But that's probably because at Uni a lot of my film projects where based on him so research, research, research. Although technically I owned all the books. In fact I got every edition of Burton on Burton. But you can't help but get a kick out of his little skeleton outfit.

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    1. Hi Cherry,

      So good to see you popping up around Blogland again!

      Your university studies sound like they were fun! Who better to "research, research, research" than Tim Burton, I say! ;) Yeah, the skellie costume is so adorable! :D

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  11. It's always cool to see how a lot of people like Tim Burton was like when they were young. My childhood was "kinda" like Tim's. We both grew up to be Gothic adults. ;)

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    1. Hi Jenny,

      Yeah, I grew up in suburban environments similar to Tim Burton as well. In fact, the street in the skeleton costume photo could easily be mistaken for an Australian neighbourhood. I think you either end up embracing suburban life or using it as motivation to strive for something different.

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  12. well i'm glad i found this blog its got everything that i like
    its strange to see how people were compared to now

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    1. Hi don,

      Thank you! Yes, who would have guessed that the little boy on the pony was destined to become a world famous creator of dark and kooky movies. :)

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