As a kid, I was a big Tim Burton fan. In my adulthood (brief thus far, but worth mentioning) I have become weary of his more recent films and noticed things in his older ones that I didn’t notice before. This week, I decided to talk about one of his films that I didn’t find many problems with and enjoyed just as much now as I did when I was a kid. Ed Wood is a great film that pays homage to (and lightly makes fun of) the oft-proclaimed “Worst Director of All Time”, Edward D. Wood Jr.
I absolutely love how this movie doesn’t take Ed Wood too seriously (especially since it’s clear he didn’t take very many things too seriously himself). The film makes him human and interesting but doesn’t mind gently poking fun at him occasionally. A stuffy biopic would have been completely wrong for this movie simply due to the kind of person Edward D. Wood Jr. was, and the way this was written emphasizes his quirks in a way that makes him endearing while also lending to a sense of vicarious embarrassment.
I can’t help but think of Ed Wood as a man who deeply loved film and would do anything for his friends and idols, but due to a naïvety most of us grow out of he lacks the knowledge of how to handle his career (and some of his relationships). He may be the “worst director of all time”, but this movie makes me wish I could be more like him due to his undying love for what he did.
As for the film itself, it is very well made with careful consideration for how to lend homage to Ed Wood’s films. The film itself is in black and white and much of the score is reminiscent of C and D movies and trailers of the 50s, but the lighting and cinematography are very well done. There is one shot in particular of Bela Lugosi that I can’t get out of my head because I absolutely love how it is framed.
The shots in this film are very well-arranged and the lighting in Bela Lugosi’s house is fantastic. This film is very visually interesting and contrasts Ed Wood’s actual films just enough to set itself apart from his work, while also being close enough that the audience doesn’t feel like an outsider peeking into a world they will never understand.
Martin Landau and Johnny Depp give great performances for this film. Johnny in particular mastered this unbridled enthusiasm that is hard to find these days, and I never got bored with watching him play this part. Martin Landau, however, did such a good job as one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, as he was able to humbly portray the struggles Bela Lugosi was going through, while giving just enough of a celebrity aura to his presence.
Of the films Tim Burton has directed, I would definitely say this is his best picture. The subject was handled with careful consideration and the mise-en-scene was wonderful. This movie always makes me laugh and I always come away from it feeling like I can accomplish anything (even if nobody else appreciates it). So what are you waiting for? Go find a copy!
I also wanted to add a brief apology for this review being somewhat late, but you know how it is as a film nerd when the golden globes are on!