Tim Burton’s nightmare

johnny depp in edward scissorhands

Note to self: do not — DO NOT — leave it until the last minute to visit a best-selling exhibition.

I was mightily impressed by the Tim Burton exhibition at Melbourne’s ACMI, even if I could only see maybe half of it through the barely moving wall of heads and shoulders. There were LOTS of the gothically inclined directors drawings, both artistic and conceptual, dating back to his childhood, a stint with Disney, and of course, his famous work — Edward Scissorhands, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, a touch of Sweeney Todd, to name some of my favourites.

In fact the exhibition was heavy on the artwork, showing his preoccupation with distorted perspective, particularly with the human form, body modification, zany critters, the lonely and the outsider, a touch of disfunctional family and the opposites that attract. Particularly eye-catching was a display of costumes featuring The Mad Hatter’s exquisite outfit from Alice in Wonderland, Catwoman’s slinky bodysuit from Batman (the Batmobile was parked in the foyer!) and, of course, Edward’s striking leather and scissor gloves. Add some puppets and sculptures and audio-visuals and you have a comprehensive round-up of the man’s career.

The audio tour (a mere $5, taking the price of admission to only a very reasonable $24) definitely value-added, with commentary from curators and Burton himself about the themes of his work.

And how great was it to see and hear Vincent Price in short early films being screened as part of the exhibit: a bizarre Hansel and Gretel with edible architecture and the touching stop-motion Vincent.

I’m sorry I didn’t take the opportunity to see the exhibit at a more relaxed time, but I’m glad I went, if only to appreciate the sheer magnitude of Burton’s creativity and imagination.

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