Tim Burton Discusses Death In Children's Movies And The Value Of Restrictions

By Eric Eisenberg 2012-10-03 20:35:39discussion comments
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It seems that, in looking at your work, many people have the idea that you have an interest in death, or the death impulse or darker elements. But I see such a life force in your work.

Well thank you. Thatís what always shocked me about people. I always find that kids can take quite a lot and that theyíre quite intelligent. And I find that adults, as they get older, kind of forget what itís like. Even with Disney movies. They think theyíre all light and airy-fairy and yet from Snow White on, The Lion King and everything, death is very present. Theyíve been killing animals for years.

Theyíve been shooting them in the woods for years.

Yeah, I mean Old Yeller.


Yeah, and thatís the whole point. I mean thatís why I always get a bit frustrated by that idea. Because Iíve had that my whole life, and the fact is that in my mind this is like a classic Disney movie structure. Itís not like going to new levels of darkness. In fact I find it quite light. But you know I went through that with Nightmare Before Christmas. People said that it was going to be too scary for kids and then youíve got three year olds coming up to you and singing the songs. Iím so sick of that. Even doing Batman it was like, ďitís too dark, itís too darkĒ now it looks like a lighthearted romp. Jesus.

[Laughs] Itís so true. Yes and Grimmís fairy tales were certainly not airy.

Theyíre so dark. Even as a kid Iím three years old and reading these stories and now even I forget how horrible they are. And hilariously horrible. But I find that the most fascinating dynamic with adults. Itís like, where have they gone in their mind? I mean donít they remember any of this stuff? It was around when they were kids. So itís not like itís some new thing.

So what do you think it is? Do you think itís your imaginative take and visual style?

I donít know. I think they forget. Iím a parent now and you become a little bit more protective, I guess. And I can understand that, getting into protective mode or whatever. But at the same time I donít know how you can forget that Snow White was scary and Pinocchio was scary. I was even watching 101 Dalmatians and it was like Ďboil emí, skin emí beat emí bash emí em over the head, kill em!í And I guarantee you now that if that line was in a Disney film they would freak out.
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