Burton’s Design

April 20, 2010 at 2:45 am (Tim Burton Themes) (, , , )

“I am not a dark person and I don’t consider myself dark.”

Tim Burton

From previous study I had come to the conclusion that Burton isolates his main characters using the camera to create a more distant feeling.  Burton shows the main character often by themselves using a one shot and does not include other characters into that space.  I used three films from different parts of his career to collect this data, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hallow and more recent film , Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  With each film I used three different scenes to analyze.

I created pie charts to show percent of individual shots of the main character, individual shots of the secondary character and two shots that include both the main and secondary character.  Each film proved that the main character is shown by themselves more than 50% of the time.

The Nightmare Before Christmas:

Jack Skellington 58%

Sally 24%

Two 18%

Sleepy Hallow:

Ichabod 57%

Katrina 21%

Two 22%

Sweeney Todd:

Sweeney 51 %

Mrs. Lovett 34 %

Two 15 %


  1. Richard Ziegler said,

    This is so true! I always seen something strange about those shots, but now I know! You’re a genius!

  2. Jessica Braun said,

    Isnt that the truth! Talk about MAIN character…

  3. Dan DeGuire said,

    I believe that one of reoccuring motives that Tim Burton wants to create an elegant analysis of being displaced from the societial norms. With the use of close–up angles, he shows the protagonist’s displacement from society, and at the same time it shows the igorance of the antagonist’s (the society) attitude toward the protagnoist.

  4. Jonathan Alexander said,

    Wow what an awesome observation, I hadn’t even really gave much thought about it but now that you said this it makes so much more sense.

  5. Nate Golomski said,

    A Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite movies and I definitely see this. The shots of Jack Skellington help reinforce his separation from his society.

  6. bak2 said,

    Wow. I like your thoughts. I’m Tim Burton’s biggest fan ever, and I’ve reviewed about 6 or 7 of his movies on my blog. Maybe 8. But my list of favorite movies consists of Burton, Burton, and more Burton!!! He’s the best director in the world. He makes such original work, even when he’s re-imagining stuff. I love how he made a sort of twist to Alice in Wonderland by having it set 10 years in the future when Alice is 19. He’s the best!!! And Danny Elfman is the best, too. Except he is the best in all things music related (Everything musical. Ever.), and Tim Burton is the best in all things film related. They are the perfect duo!!! No, actually, they are WAY better than that.

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