Tim Burton and the culture of death

First we had Beetlejuice, then the Corpse Bride, a new movie about a boy and his dead dog (Frankenweenie). Burton also has a toy line out called "Tim Burton’s Scary Toys for Girls and Boys with such figures from this series such as “The Boy with Nails in His Eyes”.

I find Burton’s work disturbing to my soul. He seems to glorify the corruption of dead flesh while desensatizing his viewers. It seems evil honestly. Anyone else feel this way?

I never really thought of it that way, but I think it may be so. I don’t know about his personal obsession with such things, but I always found his movies to be pretty good despite this. I suppose that such things are so prevalent today, that many people simply ignore them.

I think Tim Burton is very talented and creative, but no, they are definitely not to my taste. I’m pretty sensitive about stuff like that. Even though my kids are plenty old enough (my youngest is 10) I really didn’t even want them to see Coraline (not a Tim Burton movie, but still disturbing to me, same kind of genre/style).

I think it depends on your temperament and how sensitive you are to stuff like that.

**I don’t know anything about Tim Burton or his background.

The toy line does sound a little creepy. But then again, kids have always liked to be scared a little.

His movies don’t bother me, and don’t come across to me as being evil. I think it’s just his bent on how he see’s things. I love Edgar Allan Poe’s work, and I’m sure people in his day must have said the same things about him. Not everyone thinks alike, just as people’s sense of humor may be different.

I just see Burton as a creative film maker who see’s things a little different than the rest of us, much as Poe did in writing, and Van Gogh did in painting. Truth be told, I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor, I hope people don’t think I’m evil !

Peace friends.**


Except I still love his BATMAN!!! And Michael Keaton is STILL BATMAN TO ME!

Ironically the later Batman films with Christian Bale seem be the ones that glorify the culture of death and madness. I believe the role he was given in “Dark Knight” killed Heath Ledger in my opinion. I also liked Burton’s tribute to Ed Wood, which was a suprisingly touching film despite the odd subject matter.

I think ever since Burton was financed to make films filled with “his own vision”, he’s gone totally bonkers.

Ironically I also liked his other heavy handed Studio imposed film, Planet Of The Apes(but obviously the original film is much better than the remake).

As far as Burton goes, I see Batman, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow(which was a great horror film) and Planet Of The Apes on the “good” side… and then I see Sweeney Todd, Alice In Wonderland, Corpse Bride, and sometimes(but not always) Beetlejuice on the “bad”(As in they let him go too far) side…

You are 100% correct. It is amazing that a man who was trained at the Walt Disney Company has decided that dark, disturbing and dead things are meant to be “entertainment.” I would encourage everyone to not expose their children to such twisted “toys.” They serve no purpose except to make evil ‘entertaining.’


But would you include his interpretation of Batman on that side of things? And surely Christopher Nolan’s Batman must be considered far worse than anything Burton portrayed(at least in the 1989 film anyway).

I don’t believe all of the films he has made are totally bad and make “evil entertaining”. But I do believe he does go too far when allowed too much slack. Batman was his most restrained studio film where they pretty much gave him a script, a cast, a Prince soundtrack(!), and a place to film it, and then told him to direct it, then watched over his shoulder. And I believe that film is easily one of the best “Superhero” films, and easily his own best film, because of it. His unique visual style made that film what it visually was, giving it a truly “Comic-stylish” edge.

Disturbing as it may be, I don’t see what sin Burton’s work promotes…? If there’s no sin then it’s not part of the culture of death.

How can something be evil without sin…?

…and really not allowing your teenage kids(who are old enough to watch superhero film) to see Michael Keaton’s definitive performance as Batman, and Jack Nicholson’s trademark Joker, simply because of who directed it is rather unfair!

Certainly if it’s a choice between watching Nolan’s totally immoral and utterly violent(for the sake of it) Batman films and the superb 1989 film, surely you’d rather they watch the Burton film.

I was trying to answers the OP’s specific concerns about Tim Burton’s later work. I do not know how much creative control Mr. Burton had over the visual look and feel of the Batman film. Having had a little experience working with Hollywood, it’s the producers and bean counters who often get in the way. After the storyboards are done, they look at the budget and tell the creative team, “Nope, that scene would be too expensive. Figure out something else that would be cheaper.”

I’m a huge comic book fan, having been a collector since the late 1960s. I stopped buying comic books altogether in the mid-1980s because traces of the greater darkness to come were starting to appear. I thought Michael Keaton was the absolute wrong choice for Bruce Wayne and Batman. But he did a great job. The casting of Kim Basinger was perfect as was Jack Nicholson. But, by the late 1980s, creatives in all media had only two directions to go in, including comic books, keep the heroic and the wholesomeness or go toward the dark. They chose the dark, the anti-hero, and the scandalous. I mean, come on, “Dark X-Men?” In fact, I am sick and tired of seeing ‘dark’ in titles in all media.

I work in the media, and it’s time for all creatives to stop “embracing the darkness” and seeing the light at the end of the dark tunnel. And I don’t think this trend is accidental, which why I think the OP is right.



I think Prince is a great vocalist and musician, but, in the 1980s, he began releasing explicitly sexual music. His Batman music videos included obviously scandalous material.

Which should be a wake up call to Christians at least. Every story sends a message. I don’t watch a movie where I feel the need to close my eyes at certain points, though as a media critic, I sometimes do to avoid the obvious valid criticism that I’m simply echoing second-hand observations. I own a small handful of DVDs and VHS tapes which I’ve acquired over the last 25 years. I have no desire to own 99% percent of what Hollywood produces.


Ed Wood? Touching? When? The cross-dressing part? The part where Sarah Jessica Parker comments on his crew that includes dope fiends?

Who lets him go too far? The producers who finance his films know precisely what they’re paying for so the blame cannot be entirely placed on Tim Burton.


Dark X-men was part of one of those annoying annual events that have plagued superhero comics for years. The Dark X-men were a team of villians who were passing themselves of as the regular X-men. The only characters who were involved in both that team and the normal one were Emma Frost (who is a reformed villianess and was as it turned out a double agent) and the Submariner who has also been an anti-hero since his creation.

Batman is a particularly dark character and the original first couple of years of stories from the 1930’s are pretty dark. Batman is not adverse to killing opponents early on (this was toned down by editorial fiat and then written out of the character’s personality) and the early stories while crude by today’s standards were very dark at times. The Joker was a homicidial maniac when first introduced of a particularly repellent kind.

I much prefer Nolan’s movies, although I think the best version of Batman made for the screen was the early 1990’s animated Batman series.

While I prefer Burton’s Batman films to Nolan’s, I have to disagree. Burton’s Batman kills with little or no remorse. Nolan’s Batman does not kill under any circumstance. Indeed he accepts responsibilty for murders he did not commit in order not to destroy Gotham City’s respect for Harvey Dent.

The Dark Knight had nothing to do with the HEath LEdger tragedy. He was working on antoher film(The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) at the time of his death.

Yes, Heath Ledge been killed by the ‘curse of acting as the Joker’ has become one of those urban myths that refuses to die. For the most part of his existence as a fictional character Batman has refused to kill, as I said above early on they showed him doing so as he was modelled in part on pulp characters like The Shadow who had no objection to doing so. But after the first year or two editorial direction stipulated Batman should never be shown to wilfully kill people. There are a few times particular storlyines have broken that rule since, but usally there is a particular context that explains why. Such as ‘killing’ the undead or in the famous ‘Dark Knight Returns’ a much older Batman decides to finally kill the Joker only to find at the last moment his morals stop him completing the action even though he damages the latter so badly he kills himself whilst laughing to pin the blame on Batman.

I for myself prefer a Batman who does not kill as it keeps him on the right side of the thin line preventing him from been a villain.

Constantconvert’s comment is very wise.

I think it’s more of a taste and preference thing. I agree the settings of Tim Burton’s movies are somewhat morbid, but I don’t recall the actual values of the movies being anything I object to.

Take Corpse Bride for example. It’s been a few years, but as I recall the overall message of the movie was that no matter what has happened to you, you don’t get to make someone else pay for what you experienced. Things work out better (for yourself included) when you carry your own cross and don’t force other people to carry it for you (in a manner of speaking). What happened to the bad guy in the end (you don’t see it but it was more than implied) was frankly horrifying, but then again why shouldn’t it be? The bad guy basically went to hell where he will be justly punished for what he did on earth - that idea should be horrifying.

I liked Coraline and didn’t really see any Burton influence in it. It is based on a childrens book and the director also directed Nightmare before Christmas.

There are some Tim Burton movies that I like and some that I don’t. Frankenweenie didn’t seem all that good to me. When I saw the trailer, I was like “oh jeez, another Tim Burton movie?” He’s already putting out Dark Shadows.

I completely disagree. Although Burton’s films might not be for everyone, I am a huge fan of his stuff. Never found any promotion of the culture of death. Most of the time in his films, I found a message of not judging other people for being different, which is a very Christian message. I really wonder sometimes if the people that bash certain movies so much, have actually watch those same movies in their entirity.

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