Lyon’s tribute to Tim Burton, the gothic enchanter

“In my life, I have never felt so much love as here. It’s the most wonderful of all the festivals I know. It’s all about joy and love for movies. » Hardly hiding his emotion, Tim Burton, 14th recipient of the Lumière prize which honors an exemplary career and an extraordinary artistic journey, is not the first to receive his award with such strong words. The crowds, for ten days, at all the sessions in Lyon and the metropolis came to bring a scathing denial to the current discourse on the crisis of attendance in dark rooms. The popular fervor and the full rooms strongly impressed the filmmaker. “What I saw in Lyon reassured me about the future of cinema”he confided.

At the Théâtre des Célestins, filled from the floor to the chicken coop, refusing people, the American filmmaker answered questions at length from Thierry Frémaux, the director of the Institut Lumière and co-creator (with Bertrand Tavernier) of this festival. He told how, from his earliest childhood in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles, in this California flooded with sunshine, he found refuge in dark rooms to revel in horror and monster films. “It was my way of opening up to the world. » These creatures never scared him. He saw them as different beings, to be listened to, to be respected.

“A Strange Journey”

“My life is a strange journey, he explains. I didn’t want to be, I always wanted to do. And I became a filmmaker. » Tim Burton started out as an animator at Disney, the studio that produced most of his films, financing his quirkiness without always understanding it: “At the beginning, I was told that my films were too dark. But look what we’re doing today! »

Despite his successes, he was denied many screenplays. “I wanted to shoot a new version of the Wax Museum, starring Michael Jackson. It was taken back to me. You believe in it ? » During the Covid period, witnessing the sudden outbreak of platforms, Tim Burton, who lives in London, gained momentum. “My next film, I want it to be very important. » In the meantime, Netflix has just produced its first series, Wednesday(eight one-hour episodes) about the daughter of The Addams Family, of which the Lumière Festival was able to unveil the first very attractive images. It will air from November 23.

Same triumphal welcome for the solemn presentation of the prize, the same evening, at the Lyon Convention Center, packed with three thousand spectators (the next day, there will be five thousand, excited, at the Halle Tony-Garnier, for the night not -stop Tim Burton…). Irène Jacob, president of the Institut Lumière, insisted on the singular universe of this “visionary, creatively bubbling” that encourages pushing back the walls. “Let’s broaden our minds!” »stormed his Batman. With his characters of vulnerable monsters, broken, sewn, sewn up, the filmmaker encourages, she says, to “reversing values ​​and destroying prejudices”. Tim Burton “praises difference, calls for tolerance. »

Through his familiarity with the dead who, in his films, are “joyful, pensive, emotional” and accept their condition, it teaches us that the hereafter is perhaps “more hospitable” than life. Basically, this follower of the fantastic would be a follower of Montaigne for whom “to live is to learn to die”. Irene Jacob launched: “Your films help us do this. »

“A very coherent and very unpredictable work”

Of “this very coherent and very unpredictable work” according to Thierry Frémaux, Tim Burton likes all his films, twenty of which Pee Wee, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks, Big Fish, Charlie and the chocolate factory, Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo. “These are my children. Each represents a particular period of my life. »

His Gothic, fantastic and unbridled imagination, creator of exceptional forms, of a staggering visual richness, was influenced, he admits, by German expressionism, the films of Mario Bava, the readings of Edgar Allan Poe and the culture European. But also, and above all without doubt, by an unusual vision of life. “I have no idea what reality is, loose Tim Burton, with amused candor. I cannot live without creating. »

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