Director Tim Burton is known for his imaginative eeriness. His movies delve into a part of the mind where fairy tales live and the world is made of contrasts of black against white, light versus dark. In this world the hero is complex yet amazingly simple; he is serious but satirically funny.
Tim Burton’s hero has an innocence about him that is unique and childlike, but at the same time he can take on responsibilities and survive tough situations. Johnny Depp has an innocent creepiness needed in a Burton hero, hence the reason Burton has used him in three different movies.
The first movie featuring Johnny Depp with Tim Burton was Edward Scissorhands, made in 1990. With Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton was allowed to create a movie in his own style. Most of his heroes are an outsider in their own world. In Edward Scissorhands he gives the audience a tale of an outsider far different than anything else ever seen.
The hero is based on a drawing he did as a teenager and the story also reflects back to his childhood. In this film the hero is a man of little words and a sugar cookie heart.
Johnny Depp plays the hero well and perfects the idea of the outsider through his searching eyes and awkward body movement. Depp even fidgets and adds a nervous habit of playing with his scissors when he’s scared. Through these actions it is not hard to see that the scissors are indeed his hands and he has grown accustomed to them.
Depp also speaks in a very faint childish voice. He does not say much but whenever he does it is like a child has spoke the words instead. Depp says less than two hundred words throughout the entire movie yet his body language and facial expressions bring the character to life.
Depp says many words, however, in the commercial failure Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton in 1994. Based on the true story of Edward D. Wood, Jr., Ed Wood tells the tale of the worst director of all time. Johnny Depp plays the main role with the perfect mixture of eccentricity and pureness. At times he is so odd one would be scared if they encountered him alone at night. Other times one wants to hug him and tell him it will be okay.
Ed Wood comes off like a weasel in the stereotypical view of a director pushing his way into Hollywood but his loyalty to an old movie star shows the audience he’s faithful and kind.
The hero of Ed Wood is stuck in his own perception of reality. He loves wearing women’s clothing and sees nothing wrong with his actions or his movies. Like many of the heroes in Tim Burton’s films, Ed Wood is an outsider from the rest of the world. His unique vision sets him apart, but he often gets ahead of himself. Whenever he should take more than one take, he refuses, saying the shot he got was “real.”
Ed Wood has many sides and Johnny Depp emphasizes them all, therefore whenever one watches the film again they pick up on things that were not seen before. Depp also emphasizes the hero through the way he speaks. He talks in a quickened high-pitched voice and has a slight country accent. Also, because of false teeth, Depp speaks with a lisp. Although Ed Wood is a far cry from Edward Scissorhands, Depp brings the idea of an outsider misunderstood by his own society to life just as he did before.
Just as before, Depp paired with Tim Burton in 1999 to make Sleepy Hollow. In this film, Burton retells the famous tale of Ichabod Crane, casting Johnny Depp as the lead. Crane, in this case, is a Constable from New York who believes in reason above all else. He is an inventor and studies science and all things tangible and true. In Sleep Hollow he finds ghost stories and magic. While dealing with a murderous ghost, Constable Crane must also deal with childhood issues regarding his mother and consequently his belief of magic.
Depp plays the hero unlike any the audience has ever seen. When one thinks of Ichabod Crane, one pictures a tall, lanky fellow with a huge nose and a weak personality. Johnny Depp is the exact opposite, in fact the only thing he has similar to the fairy tale Crane is his squeamish nature and pale skin. Depp gives Crane a false bravado and an analytical mind. His character is stubborn, relentless and observant.
At the same time Crane is easily frightened and faints at the drop of a hat. Several times he manages to be an ineffective leader yet at the end of the film he saves the day. Johnny Depp has a distinct lack of accent in this film. His pronunciation is precise and his manner of speaking is educated. In this third collaboration between Burton and Depp, Johnny Depp proves that he has captured Burton’s essence of a hero.
Tim Burton’s world of creativity is made of dissimilarity, therefore why should his hero be made of anything else? His hero is an everyday man that everyone can identify with. He is an outsider who does not quite fit in with the world around him. When faced with difficult situations the hero will not act bravely but most likely cower under a table. One particular scene in Sleepy Hollow reveals the squeamish nature a Burton hero has. A spider crosses the floor and Johnny Depp screams like a girl and jumps on a chair.
Burton’s hero may not face danger well but he will become heroic in his own way. In Edward Scissorhands the hero must go back to seclusion. Some may think this is not heroic because he has not saved the day or fought off evil, but there is an essence of heroism whenever the lead must give up happiness for others peace of mind. In Ed Wood he makes a horrible movie, finds a girlfriend who appreciates his Angora wearing self and is finally at peace.
Sleepy Hollow is a rare Burton film in that the hero actually saves the day. In the end Crane discovers the truth, gets the girl and all is well with the world. Tim Burton creates a character that is misunderstood but lovable. His hero is kind-hearted, aloof and horribly realistic.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp make a marvelous pair. Burton has the imagination to create the hero and Johnny Depp has the personality and talent to bring the hero to life. In every film Depp emphasizes another aspect of the Burton hero. In each collaboration Depp has done something different but the hero has always been the same.
There is a rumor that Johnny Depp will soon team up with Burton once more in a remake of the classic movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. With the track record these two have, Willy Wonka will be a character none has ever imagined before or one that will be forgotten easily.