Frankenweenie (Tim Burton, 2012): USA

Reviewed by Grace Williamson. Screened at the Arlington, Santa Barbara.

Director Tim Burton with Frankenweenie exhibit.

Saturday and Sundays at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival offer one showing at 10am for free, including a drink and popcorn.  I was expecting some riled up kids, what I was pleasantly surprised to see was the respectful homeless youth given this opportunity.

I had heard about this film when it was still in the early steps and grew very interested in seeing it because it was one of the first things Burton had written as a young man, and it was loosely based on his own life.

Frankenweenie is a classic Tim Burton twist on Frankenstein for the next generation.  He included many references to not only the original Frankenstein, and his bride, but also to his previous films.  The little town in Denmark that Victor, the main character lives in has its name in white letters on a hill, quite obviously a play on the Hollywood sign, called New Holland.

After seeing many Tim Burton films, I have noticed a few things that always stand out when seeing a new one.  In an interview Burton said that while working on The Nightmare Before Christmas he found that striped socks make him think more clearly; he makes a point to include many striped pieces of clothing and aspects of the sets which represent this.  In this film, Victor wore small refined stripes, while the “bullies” wore big thick stripes.

I thought this film to be very well done, not because I am an avid Burton fan, but because I forgot moments into the plot that it was all done in black and white.  The shadows and highlights were exquisite and understandable for all ages.  There was only one girl with blonde hair, which was very drastic and the opposite of almost every other character.  I was surprised at how dramatic body shape was presented in this film, there were only two body shapes: extremely large, and round, or skin and bones thin with bones protruding from the characters faces.

Wynona Ryder was one of the main characters in this film, like in many of Burton’s; she has a very interesting way of talking, I would almost call it a different dialect or accent but I can never put my finger on it.   I love to hear and see Ryder in Burton’s films, that is where she performs with the best results.

This film is very predictable from the quite obvious foreshadowing, “If we could bring him back we would,” statement to the next day bringing the dog back to life.  As film comes to an end you see what looks almost exactly like the same view from Edward Scissorhands, a hill with an object on the top that the whole town feels the need to rush to to save, or burn down.  Ryder’s character is in danger because of the leading male and the whole town is thinking the worst of the situation.

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