chronicle #15 Burton’s dark – obscure – shadows

May 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

What have you been up to lately? If you’ve found yourself in Paris, you’ve probably heard everybody talking about 1) Tim Burton’s exhibition in La Cinémathèque and 2) his latest movie Dark Shadows, lately released. Well well well… what can I say exactly? I have been as delighted by the exhibition as disappointed by the movie. Okay, maybe this is slightly exaggerated since I literally l.o.v.e.d the exhibition and didn’t execrate the movie that much, but stil.

Let’s start now with a short review of the movie, right? Most of Burton’s fans are usually seduced by his finest art of mixing the strange, the beautiful and the burlesque. And that’s why we usually enjoy and like his movies. I remember how I had felt elated by the dark yet utterly romantic atmosphere of Edward Scissorhands, especially the moments he coldly yet tenderly sculpts the ice statues… and also his macabre movie Sleepy Hollow, which remains until now my favourite one. This is probably my love for that century – the 19th, you know – which lead me to quite like Sweeney Todd, which recreated well the misty foggy land London must have been at that time. Bloodily made, I must admit, but still thrilling – who can forget the moment the small child bites into a thumb in these human body pies? – such a thrill.

Well, but about Dark Shadows… This wasn’t quite what I had been expected. First it was long for not much in it, and second I didn’t completely get the full necessity of putting vampires, werewolves, witches, hippies and all sorts of debauched communities (from a conventional human being’s point of view) all in the same movie. Yes, there were funny scenes, yes, Johnny Depp’s talking did convince me as a remote Shakespearean imitation, but still, I thought certain scenes completely useless and “fun-less”. Particularly, what was the aim of such scenes as the witch-vomits-on-vampire’s face one, that has been seen more than once in the Scary Movie series? That clearly lacked delicacy and subtility, seriously. There’s only one small step between derision and bad taste apparently.

Alright, alright, what I liked (mind you who haven’t seen the movie, spoiler ahead): I clearly liked the final scene when Eva Green splendidly dies, tied to the great chandelier of the Collinwood Manor. The way Tim Burton chose to make her a fragile china doll in the end despite centuries of supposed cruelty was a bit interesting. I also liked Alice Cooper’s apparition, far more than any other moment in the movie. That was quite cool and unexpected I must say. And I DID enjoy Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance. Well I really like her.

So here we are, yes, I’m still a huge fan of Burton’s work, but sometimes you have to recognize when one of your fav artists fails… I really wonder if this isn’t related to the fact it’s a really huge Warner prod. Too bad.


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