Tim Burton, famously known for his movies that appeal to children with dark and haunting twists such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie, and many others, uses a multitude of different cinematic techniques to create dramatic events to keep the audience entertained. Burton uses a series of sounds, lighting, and camera movements to do so. His classic, dream like films are unique and use these elements to bring the attention to the smaller, more important parts of the film.
For starters, in both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Edward Scissorhands, we hear non-diegetic music being played during many scenes, giving viewers clues that something important is about to happen. For example, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as Willy Wonka opens the doors to the candy field, we hear angelic like singing which helps us realize that the children and their parents are awestruck at the sight of all the chocolate and sugar. By using non-diegetic music like this, it helps the audience understand this piece of the film and also relate to a time when they were amazed by something as well.
This was also used in Edward Scissorhands, where we hear non-diegetic music being played as Kim dances in the falling ice shavings of Edward’s ice sculpture. This sound helps signify the importance of the scene as it also answers the opening question posed by the granddaughter; where does the snow come from?
Another cinematic technique Burton uses to create his movies is low key lighting.
We see this being used in Corpse Bride multiple times. One of the biggest scenes that he used this in was when Victor is being chased by Emily after slipping the ring on her finger in the woods. With low key lighting, it creates the intensity of the scene and the darkness with the moon light creates eerie shadows. These shadows help the audience identify the setting as spooky and creepy. Burton also uses this in The Nightmare Before Christmas. As the scene opens up, low key lighting is used in the graveyard, illuminating the ghosts and skeletons. The lighting adds to the already seemingly dark movie with creepy characters and creatures. The way Burton uses lighting in the film creates mysterious shadows and glowing effects, adding to the depth of the movie and characters.
Lastly, Burton uses a series of camera movements to show the viewers the characters and the settings. In Edward Scissorhands, when the scene where Kim and her friends are running out of the house and to the van, tracking is used to follow them. This makes the audience feel as if they are running in the movie as well. Another camera movement Burton uses is a crane in Edward Scissorhands. The crane is used as the grandmother began to tell her story and the camera flies out the window to go across the neighborhood and over to the castle. This not only shows us the setting of the neighborhood but also begins the flashback. By using these movements, we are able to get more knowledge on the movie and collect more details that play a big role in the film.
Throughout his films, Burton uses multiple techniques to draw the viewer in. By using sounds, lighting, and camera movements, Burton creates a film that perfectly flows together and captures the audience’s attention and minds. His attention to small details and creative mind make the viewer feel as if they are in the movie.
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