Tim Burton is without question one of my personally favorite directors, because his movies are always truly unusual and extraordinary. Not only does he choose to tell rather odd stories, but the characters he depicts are also highly exceptional and special. In many of his movies he shows extremes of the human nature, using a very unique and distinctive style. When we started to talk about the grotesque and carnivalesque, I realized that the uniqueness of Burton’s style and movies is grounded in the use and depiction of a certain image of the grotesque and carnivalesque. His main characters often have grotesque features, while he draws on the carnivalesque in his representation of the ordinary world. Edward Scissorhands seems to be a perfect example for this. For everyone who does not know the movie, here is the trailer:
I think that Burton’s image of the grotesque is essentially positive. In Edward Scissorhands, the main character’s outward appearance is rather grotesque and scary, including scissors instead of hands and completely black clothes and hair in contrast to very pale skin. At first sight, he looks very dark, threatening and dangerous. His looks clearly set him apart from all the other characters and therefore also from the ordinary world. Although he tries, he does not manage to fit in. Because he is so different, most of the other characters react negatively and dismissively on him. However, concerning his inner values he is clearly presented as the most likeable of all characters. In fact, the way Burton presents Edward actually makes it impossible to dislike him. Most of the other, ordinary people, however, turn out to be rather despicable throughout the course of the movie. Although they have a more cheerful, colorful and therefore to a certain extend positive outward appearance, Burton draws special attention to their character flaws. In my opinion, he uses elements of the carnivalesque in his illustration of the common world, because he massively exaggerates certain element such as clothing, hair styles or behavior patterns, making them ridiculous. By doing this, Burton mocks the ordinary and celebrates the extraordinary. In my opinion, the most important thing, however, is the fact that Edward manages to use his deformation to create objects of beauty. He therefore combines a grotesque outside and a beautiful and positive inside. The other people are the exact opposite. Burton consequently tries to turn out common values and assumptions upside down, what fits Bakhtin’s description of the carnivalesque.