pure american crazy


If, as William Carlos Williams wrote, “The pure products of America / go crazy,” where does that leave Tim Burton, a pure product not just of America but also of Southern California, land’s end of our national phantasmagoria? Hollywood, maybe, where Burton — born in Burbank, raised on TV and the films of Ray Harryhausen, educated at the California Institute of the Arts — landed in the late 1970s. Or London, where he now lives with the actress Helena Bonham Carter and their two kids. Really, though, the landscape Burton occupies is one of the imagination, a territory marked by whimsy and darkness, in which the visuals are the main event. “My background is animation,” he says by phone from his home in England. “Early on, I was essentially a nonverbal person.” Even now, the director of “Beetle Juice,” “Batman,” “Corpse Bride” and “Edward Scissorhands” seems not completely comfortable in conversation; he pauses, backtracks, like someone speaking in a second language, as he discusses “The Art of Tim Burton,” a lavish art book featuring more than 1,000 images, some of which go back to childhood.

more from David L. Ulin at the LA Times here.