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

They’ve been shooting them in the woods for years.

Yeah, I mean Old Yeller.

Bambi.

Yeah, and that’s the whole point. I mean that’s why I always get a bit frustrated by that idea. Because I’ve had that my whole life, and the fact is that in my mind this is like a classic Disney movie structure. It’s 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 you’ve got three year olds coming up to you and singing the songs. I’m so sick of that. Even doing Batman it was like, “it’s too dark, it’s too dark” now it looks like a lighthearted romp. Jesus.

[Laughs] It’s so true. Yes and Grimm’s fairy tales were certainly not airy.

They’re so dark. Even as a kid I’m 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. It’s like, where have they gone in their mind? I mean don’t they remember any of this stuff? It was around when they were kids. So it’s not like it’s some new thing.

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

I don’t know. I think they forget. I’m 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 don’t know how you can forget that Snow White was scary and Pinocchio was scary. I was even watching 101 Dalmatians and it was like ‘boil em’, skin em’ beat em’ bash em’ em over the head, kill em!’ And I guarantee you now that if that line was in a Disney film they would freak out.

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