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The Philosophy of Tim Burton

Director and producer Tim Burton impresses audiences with stunning visuals, sinister fantasy worlds, and characters whose personalities are strange and yet familiar. Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as Lewis Carroll, Salvador Dalí, Washington Irving, and Dr. Seuss, Burton's creations frequently elicit both alarm and wonder. Whether crafting an offbeat animated feature, a box-office hit, a collection of short fiction, or an art exhibition, Burton pushes the envelope, and he has emerged as a powerful force in contemporary popular culture.

In The Philosophy of Tim Burton, a distinguished group of scholars examines the philosophical underpinnings and significance of the director's oeuvre, investigating films such as Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Nightmare before Christmas (1993), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Big Fish (2003), Sweeney Todd (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Dark Shadows (2012). The essays in this volume explore Burton's distinctive style, often disturbing content, and popular appeal through three thematic lenses: identity, views on authority, and aesthetic vision.

Covering topics ranging from Burton's fascination with Victorian ideals, to his celebration of childhood, to his personal expression of the fantastic, the contributors highlight the filmmaker's peculiar narrative style and his use of unreal settings to prompt heightened awareness of the world we inhabit. The Philosophy of Tim Burton offers a penetrating and provocative look at one of Hollywood's most influential auteurs.

About the Authors

Jennifer L. McMahon, professor of philosophy and English at East Central University, is coeditor of The Philosophy of the Western.

Reviews

"A stimulating, scholarly work. The Philosophy of Tim Burton is an important book that will serve as a major contribution to the growing literature on film and philosophy."—Shai Biderman, coeditor of The Philosophy of David Lynch

"A significant contribution to the fields of film studies, cultural studies, literature, and philosophy that will be of interest to both academic and non-academic audiences in those areas."—Kimberly Blessing, professor, department of philosophy, SUNY Buffalo State

"Philosophical reflection can occur in many modes and forms. In fact, it does not even need to appear as philosophy. This stimulating collection presents a wide variety of explorations of the philosophical importance of Tim Burton's work. They show that the 'high' themes of philosophy around which the book revolves can be effectively explored in the unconventional 'popular culture' ways that mark and inform Burton's films. These essays integrate theoretical concerns with a close interpretive attention to concrete and vital detail."—Robert E. Innis, University of Massachusetts Lowell

"The metaphysics of personal identity, the subversive potential of horror, and the aesthetic resonance of the uncanny all can be found in Tim Burton's stylistically diverse works. These lively essays examine some unexpected philosophical ideas in his movies, making us realize how dramatic theoretical issues can become when they are crafted within narrative, dialogue, and filmic strategies."—Carolyn Korsmeyer, Philosophy Department, University at Buffalo

"[. . .] As a fan of Burton films, and an avid philosopher in my spare time, I considered this collection enlightening [. . . .]"—Film Matters

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