Gothic Genre Explored in Tim Burton's Films Essay

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  • Topic: Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Ichabod Crane
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Gothic Genre explored in Tim Burton's films Essay

Tim Burton is successful in creating horror films such as Edward Scissor Hands (1990), Nightmare before Christmas (1993) and Sleepy Hollow (1999), through his incorporation of Gothic Elements within the setting, flawed hero and the manifestation of the sense of dread and terror. A horror film can be defined as a motion picture that seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from the audience by playing on the viewer’s most primal fears. This is often ignited by key scenes that feature macabre, supernatural, fantasy or science fiction. This is evident in the various scenes within each of Tim Burton’s Films. Tim Burton incorporates the style of Gothic elements such as Gothic style architecture and prominent dark lighting in the film, Edward Scissor Hands (1990). Through these film techniques, Burton thus is able to explore the the dark and damaged world of the suburbia. These techniques include the bright lighting within the suburbia residences, which often emphasizes the contrasting dark lighting from black shades implemented by the hand made metal structures that is prominently used within Edward’s Victorian styled manor/home. Such discrepancies between bright and dark lighting is evident in the scene where Pegg decides to visit Edward’s isolated mansion in hopes to sell her Avon products, despite her failure from her seemingly welcoming suburbia. Pegg’s exclusion implements the idea that the suburbia is the damaged world, which is evident in the scene whereby many residences such as Joyce impolitely ignores Pegg from entering her house while selling her Avon products. This juxtaposes the seemingly warm-hearted suburbia, which in fact is not. However Edward’s home provides more warmth than the suburbia.Tim Burton also contrasts the general suburbia and the Gothic styled architecture of Edward’s Victorian style manor. The conformity of the suburbia is evident in the scene where residences of the suburbia robotically leave their picture perfect houses with clean cut lawns to work. The dichotomies of light and dark lighting, the suburbia’s commitment in submitting to conformity provides a sense of uneasiness and a sinister atmosphere for the audience, because the audience is challenged to reason that the Suburbia is actually the damaged world, despite the eerie aura that Edward’s home project through its dark lightning and threatening appearance. Through Burton’s exploration of the damaged suburbia world, he has successfully fused gothic elements such as light and dark lighting complimented by gothic styled architecture and structures, in effectively creating the horror film, Edward Scissor hands (1990).

Similarly in the film, Nightmare before Christmas (1993), Tim Burton also integrates dark lighting and unconventional style of architecture, in the gothic setting of Halloween town. Tim Burton aims to depict Halloween town as the damaged world by portraying its setting with harsh and direct lighting complimented with monochromatic tones. This is evident in the opening musical scene of the film, whereby the buildings and the residents of halloween town is depicted in various panning and establishing film shots. Burton also explores this damaged world through Halloween town’s set such as narrow based structures, mythical organic structures, elongated silhouettes, bone like trees, deep shadows and textured woods. This is evident in the scene, when protagonist Jack Skellington wanders aimlessly in the deserted forest, after the previous Halloween event celebration was finished.The dark and intense lighting implemented by the unusual geometrical structures and architecture of Halloween town fabricates an unnatural, creepy and an uneasy atmosphere amongst the audience. The effect on the audience perspicuously demonstrates the expected reaction based on the standards of horror films. Therefore through Tim Burton’s employment of the gothic elements such as dark lighting and...
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