Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Tim Burton in predictable-shoehorn-land

Oh, look, it's an eccentric children's character rendered surprisingly terrifying! Blimey! I'd never have expected this! Unprecedented! IT'S GENIUS!

'You do rather wonder if the Disney executives knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they hired Tim Burton, the maverick mastermind behind Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride, to take on Lewis Carroll's famous tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a classic of children's storytelling since its publication in 1865.'

I beg to differ.

Because, just from reading the statement 'Tim Burton to direct Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', I reckon I can imagine bloody exactly what it's going to be like. And – you know what? – I imagine the Disney execs could, too.

It's going to be a shoehorn-fest in which Burton predictably whips out his sinister, wide-eyed, pocelainishly airbrushed and corpsily desaturated filter and applies it – without any real consideration for the subject matter.

Take Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Actually, don't take it. Shun it. Because it was a SHIT remake. It didn't make any bloody sense. Not in a surreal, cool kind of way. In a that's-actually-deeply-implausible-behaviour-in-a-psychological-sense kind of way.

It was like seeing someone strip to its scaffolding – say – the Taj Mahal, and use said scaffolding to build a replica of the sodding Gherkin. Some stubborn fucker who refuses to acknowledge that it does not bloody well fit.

And now, Taj Mahal 'reinterpreted', he's off to take on the Great Wall. Which he's going to remake as ––––– THE GHERKIN!

[Audience gasps and applauds wildly]

See, I wouldn't mind so much if it weren't for the fact that both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the works of Lewis Carroll are bloody good in the original. The Alice books are incredibly clever in places, rather subtle, deftly poised. They do a brilliant job of portraying the logical illogicality of dream states and the way in which the bizarre may seem utterly normal when one sleeps.


Oh, look. A bit of crumbling gothic masonry with mistily silhouetted trees and climbing foliage. Burton's really going to take us by surprise with this one!!!!!!

Okay. So a great artist has a recognisable voice, and it's only to be expected that there be similarities between his various works. That's okay. The Intellectual Hooligan does not mind that.

But, you know what? I'm pretty sick of people going on about Tim Burton as if he were some kind of trendsetter. Some 'maverick'. Some scythingly unpredictable force of novelty. Okay, so when he did Edward Scissorhands, this kind of thing was remarkable. But now it's getting really, really, really tired.

It's as if James Joyce, after writing Ulysses, then wrote Ulysses 2, 3 and 4, chronicling the next several days of Leopold Bloom's life. Maybe each one constructed around the narrative of a different classical epic.

Hell, even Samuel bloody Beckett (whose whole oeuvre was pretty much based on the notion of insulting his audience with overt reuse of tired material) exhibited more imaginative variety than this. AND HE WAS ACTIVELY TRYING NOT TO.

So, Guardian caption-writers, please pause before you presume that any of this 'exciting' new artwork will seem remotely surprising to us.

Because it bores the crap out of me.


Billicatons said...

Oh, and I'd like to clarify that I am in no way, shape, form or fucking dimension equating Edward Scissorhands with Ulysses.


Matt Sellwood said...

That was the instant conclusion that I came to. Philistine!


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