Dark Shadows- Tim Burton comes back with an amazing gothic looking comedy!
Directed by the artist and auteur Tim Burton, “Dark Shadows” met with audiences in May 2012. It was also successful in the box office, which is a great relief to see that there is still a respect for the art-films rather then classic Hollywood romantic comedies.
Known with his gothic and unusual style, Burton again has proven the fact that he is a strong auteur with keeping his Burtonesque style throughout his new film. Having an unusual obsession to vampire and monster movies during his childhood, Burton brought this old -and sadly not so popular- 70’s American TV series back to life on the big screen with the screen writer Seth Grahame-Smith. As his tradition the mysterious and talented Johnny Depp (Barnabas Collins) is playing the lead role. Burton’s spouse Helena Bonham Carter is also present in the cast with a small yet effective role.
The prologue starts with the introduction of Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who is on a journey to Collinsport to get a job at the Collins’ house by teaching the “weird” child of the family, David. At this point the unusual white color of Victoria’s face gives a hint of the plot’s lead characters, the vampires. However the main story of the film start with Barnabas coming out from his grave, which is approximately 20-30 minutes after the movie starts. So there is a bit of a patience-required phase at the beginning to see Johnny Depp.
Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is a vampire who has been cursed and left to stay locked in a coffin for two hundred year by a witch (Eva Green) after his betrayal to her love. However, the film is mostly built on the story of how he gathers back the family and their family mercantile of fishing factory, which is continuously disturbed and defeated by the evil witch, Angelique Bouchard’s factory “Angie Bay”.
I will keep it short talking about the plot because this is such a strong visual delight that even if it was a silent movie it could’ve told the story as strong as this. Burton tells his story mostly throughout the colors of the characters personalities, which are all a piece of art. Barnabas is the one of the funniest characters Burton has ever created after Beetlejuice. Due to the fact that he wakes up to 19th century from 17th, he is an outcast to almost every situation, which is a common theme in Burton’s movies. His funny accent, with his black attire and black gelled hair that forms spiked fringes on his forehead makes him a really funny character stuck in the world of American Hippies in 70s.
On the other hand there is Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is in the role of a proud and strong mom who control the reckless family members such as; David who talks to his mom’s ghost, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) who helps David to accept his mothers death but also a desperate alcoholic, Carolyn (Chloe Moretz) who is caught up with the fever of free love and Roger Collins Jonny Miller), the spiteful dad.
In the film the cameraman Bruno Delbonnel (who also worked in amazing films like Harry Potter and Amelie) does a great job of presenting the quirky mood of the family with unexpected cuts to different scenes however the pace remains slow. When it comes to talking about mise-en-scene in a Burton film there is a lot to say. Every scene is like a piece of a painting. Uncommonly in a Hollywood made film, the colors are really inadaptable by the audience. The orange color of Dr. Hoffman’s hair opposing her green eye make-up still does not leave my sight however this dissonance forms a great example of the Pop-Art period in America which was popular after late 50s. The image of Barnabas however is from 17th century. Added to this Carolyn’s style is from 70’s America. All this confusion is a portrait. Only a great director like Tim Burton can form a great scene with mismatching figures.
Acting is ofcourse amazing with such a strong cast. Different than other Burton films, Dark Shadows keep a slow pace throughout the film yet keeping the audience entertained. Mainly focusing on the visual than the story telling it is a different experience for Burton’s audience after Sweeney Todd or Alice in Wonderland. Carrying the forgotten vampire film to 2012 Tim Burton has done a great job especially saving the reputation of vampire films!
Dark Shadows, is a great fantasy and comedy presented in Burton’s style. A dark fairy-tale told by a great illusionist. A must see for the 2012 watchlist.