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Vincent, Evermore...

By Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Some might argue with my choice on this.  Yes, I know that Tim Burton is hardly an indie or little-known artist.  Having your name associated--often--with a certain Mr. Depp and the cult classic The Nightmare Before Christmas certainly negates the "little" before the word "known".  I'm going to insist that this charming little clip qualifies though.

Vincent is a 1982 stop motion film short by Burton and Rick Heinrichs.  It follows an imaginative little boy whose ambition is to be "just like Vincent Price".  The fact that Vincent Price himself actually narrates is sheer perfection.  The opening sequence is sparse and backed by soft, melancholy flute music, setting the mood for the rest of the not-quite-six-minute film.  Like many of the creepy, sometimes campy, horror flicks of yore, Vincent is in only black and white.  There are a few moments where (like most Burton films) you have to practice suspended disbelief.  Vincent is seven, but reads Edgar Allen Poe, and paints a portrait like a master artist.  Still, like most things Burton, the journey you're taken on is well worth playing along.  Seeing how elements of this film have continued into his later work is fun too.  If you're familiar with them, you'll definitely pick up on things that are Corpse Bride and Nightmare-esque.

I'm sure it's no secret by now: I'm a big Burton fan.  However...I'd venture to guess that the appeal of Vincent will go beyond the large circle of die-hard devotees.  Anyone who felt misunderstood as a child (which I imagine is just about anyone walking planet Earth at the moment) can see a glimmer of themselves here.  Any parent who has a child who treats their world of make-believe as reality will understand.  Any adult who needs just a few minutes of escape and make believe again should find it time well spent.  Go ahead--take a break.  Reality will always be there when you get back.


  1. Thanks for this! I adore this film clip and hadn't seen it before. Did you know that MoMA did a Tim Burton show earlier this year? It's still online - you can see some of his childhood/teenage drawings, several - to me - are the "birth" of Edward Scissorhands. Very cool to watch his talent evolve: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2009/timburton/

  2. Lisa,

    It's interesting that you post this... I am taking a film class at UW-P titled, "The History of Film to 1950." A fascinating class, as I'm sure you can imagine. We looked at Robert Wiene's 1920 film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" not too long ago. Have you seen it? After looking at that film, it is easy to see that Wiene is a huge influence on Burton. Any fan of Burton's work should check out Wiene's "Cabinet!"

    I always like digging a bit to find out who and what has influenced artists.

  3. UglyOldWitch: I'll be going back to the link you gave again and again; I so wish I could check out the exhibit in person!

    m@: I'm in the process of watching "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" right now, thanks to your recommendation. I was just involved in a multi-media project based on the silent film "Nosferatu", and can easily see how these early German films might have influenced Burton in some way. Interesting stuff!