Though he’s still recognized as one of the most visually inventive directors of our time, Tim Burton hasn’t had a very consistent decade—well, decade and a half. In recent years, he’s been dragged into the proverbial cinematic quicksand with his partner-in-crime, Johnny Depp, and into a host of failed variations on his gothic, kooky shtick.
Last year’s unusually sober Margaret Keane biopic, Big Eyes, only barely recouped its budget, but it also led to some of Burton’s most favorable reviews in years. Our own Keith Phipps was positive about the film, though he felt that the clash of tragedy and comedy was less successful than intended. But even if Burton seems to have lost his mojo in terms of telling well-constructed narratives, his eye for decadent, idiosyncratic, and fleshed-out backdrops has never waned.
Big Eyes, while dazzling in its period specificity thanks to Bruno Delbonnel’s washed-out cinematography, doesn’t seem like the go-to Burton film for an art book, given his tastes for more garish, visually off-kilter fare. But this exclusive preview of the upcoming behind-the-scenes art book, Big Eyes: The Film, The Art, makes the tome look like an engrossing companion and a reminder of Burton’s distinct design sense—whether he’s playing around in our world or one of his own cinematic fantasies.
DP Bruno Delbonnel takes a light meter reading during a scene with Terence Stamp as Canaday at the art critic's New York Times office.
Burton frames a shot of Amy Adams in Margaret's painting room.
Camera operator Des Whelan and first assistant Paul Guenette squeeze into a corner to film Margaret painting in Walter's attic.
Concept sketch by Burton of Margaret hallucinating Big Eyes.
Pre VFX: Stamp as Canaday with Forbes Angus as a civic leader. Both study a wall where "Tomorrow Forever" will be digitally inserted along with the rest of the hall of education.
Post VFX: The completed shot that appears in the film.