Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Review | Ed Wood

Ed Wood | 1994

Directed By Tim Burton

Burton’s innovative method is present from the start as his opening scene uses elements from Ed Wood’s film ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’. In the scene Criswells (Jeffery Jones) appears from a coffin and narrates a monologue that is inches from the original featured at the start of ‘Plan 9’, which again, is narrated by the Criswells Predicts. Following on from this clip Burton makes a near reconstruction of the iconic opening credit scene where the cast names are superimposed on the tombstone. Moreover Burton takes a similar tact by taking the influence of design - such as the abundantly false tombstone and the font. However, Burton pries away from this by taking out the superimposed text and replacing with multiple graves, which is panned via a tracking shot through the graves. This implicates immediately the intentions of the director, as he wants to make the film a tribute, not ridicule by applying higher-budget to his biopic of Wood.

This can be evidently validated in the selection of actors within the homage to Wood. With Burton’s casting being flooded with talented actors ranging from the new and upcoming such as Johnny Depp – who was coming into his own whilst acting - to the veterans such as Bill Murray and Martin Landau – stars of Ghostbuster and Twilight zone . Moreover, their collaboration gives the audience a gift basket of acting; ‘Mr Depp...gives a witty and captivating performance, bringing wonderful buoyancy to this can-do optimism that kept Ed Wood going’ – [Maslin, J ; 1994] and ‘Landau, especially, is superb bringing...real dignity to the role of Bela Lugosi.’ – [GA; 2001]. Moreover, Burton choose this cast to display his tribute in a serious tone but endorse Wood’s life by getting uncanny resemblance to the people who surrounded Wood’s during his career. Such as Jeffery Jones depicting Criswells whom share an uncanny resemblance with Criswell himself. To validate such method, Bela Lugosi is played is by Martin Landau who could be easily mistaken for a twin of the old horror hero. With this, Burton remains in close correlation with Wood’s world - although the actors who play in homage being better actors; tenfold.

Fig 1 | Criswels
Fig 2 | Criwells Played By Jeffery Jones

Furthermore with the acting and design playing homage, the most evident but easily forgotten wood-esque choice is no doubt his editing. In validation the film shows displays the similar style of Wood’s edits – black and white film which remains consistent with all Wood’s, movies as well as being perceived as very poorly light such as the original films. Toddy McCarthy making it plainly obvious that statement that the film ‘echoes Wood’s films...while still shooting beautiful looking picture’ – [McCarthy, T; 1994]

In essence, Burton’s picture is nothing more than the biopic from the acclaimed ‘Worst Director of All Time’ Ed Wood Jr. What becomes more evident, is that even though appearing as a film intent on ridiculing the legacy of Wood; it is innovatively echoes as homage to the man who directed films as an outsider of the normal parameters of movie making; very much like Burton’s whose ‘career has always shown an fondness for touching the outsiders’ – [Edbert, R; 1994]. Evidently, Burton’s tribute ‘gives us a hero who is not merely an outsider, but one who attracts even more desperate cases’ – [Edbert, R; 1994]. Basically, films don’t have to be picture perfect to become an accolade to cinema but a lust to create a motion picture. Edbert conveys a similar message as he argues the point ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ as with Wood; he was ‘blind to hilarious blunders, stumbling ineptitude, and acting so bad that it achieved a kind of grandeur. But badness alone would not have been enough to make him a legend it was his love for film,’ – [Edbert, R; 1994].

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