As well as glossily made (complete with fetching slip case), Tim Burton: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work is an interesting and in-depth read. While unofficial, it pulls together quotes from a variety of sources so that Burton’s own words are still very much present within the book. It also gives every one of Burton’s films (yes, including A Nightmare Before Christmas) the same amount of attention - which means that we don’t get an excessive number of pages on big-hitters like Beetlejuice and often overlooked works like Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure get their due. Each entry comprises an essay on the movie, which combines critique, comments on the production and a general discussion of how the particular film sits in Burton’s ever-growing oeuvre.
As mentioned above, many other volumes have analysed the director’s work and so a lot of the content here could perhaps be familiar material to hardcore enthusiasts. Something more original, however, is the occasional dipping into biography, and how Burton’s own life experiences often feed into his films. It is in this area that the book offers up some fascinating, little-known facts. Fans will no doubt have already heard the story of the teenage doodle that inspired Edward Scissorhands but Nathan’s book also references lesser-told moments. For instance, how Willy Wonka’s relationship with his father in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was inspired by a reunion Burton had with his estranged mother, where he was touched to find she had posters of all his moves on her walls. Obviously, it is his films that we are most interested in but a little more of this material would have helped to really set it apart from other Burton-orientated books.
There is nothing wrong with the book as it is, though. Far from it, Nathan’s work is a worthy companion to your Tim Burton DVD boxset. Does it come to a definitive answer on what it means to be Burtonesque? Not exactly, but that is probably something Burton himself is still continually exploring.
TIM BURTON: THE ICONIC FILMMAKER AND HIS WORK / AUTHOR: IAN NATHAN / PUBLISHER: AURUM PRESS LTD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW