FILM REVIEW | ED WOOD
photo manipulation by nacrowe
ED WOOD (TOUCHSTONE PICTURES, 1994) is my favorite TIM BURTON film despite the fact that it is the least TIM BURTON-like project he ever made (with possible exceptions being BIG FISH or BIG EYES).
this film is a love letter to B-movies of early cinema and the people who made them. for a man known for his elaborate GERMAN EXPRESSIONISTIC set design and macabre EDWARD GOREY-indebted aesthetic, the fact that BURTON during his early peak chose to take on a project that glorified the questionable talents and even more suspect creative vision of such a figure as b-movie director ED D. WOOD JR, who made his filmography under limited budgets (to put it very diplomatically) and with no conceivable audience, was a truly a bold departure and a touching tribute to the essence of film-making.
it is hard not to fall under the spell of WOOD, masterfully depicted by JOHNNY DEPP, and his singular focus to make his magnum opus PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959), which to this day is continually on worst movies of all-time lists (which come to think of it is a feat in and of itself). when i re-watched this recently what struck me was how much this film deals with the production of film-making, the almost fanatic zeal to which WOOD goes about corralling his merry band of enablers strikes me as a commentary on the communal aspects and the trust, risks and responsibilities involved in taking on such an endeavor.
this film also touchingly tackles the trust and communication of a director and his actor, here with MARTIN LANDEAU as washed-up, drugged-out, humiliated later years horror icon BELA LUGOSI. his portrayal is done with much humility and grace and is deeply affecting as it showcases the collateral damage of a defeated human being discarded after his usefulness to a studio he helped build rejects him. that is until he is rediscovered by WOOD who gives him a second lease on communal appreciation before his death.
i think for BURTON this film is meta-observation on the pressures, challenges and potential pitfalls of movie-making, but also its community. for me at least such makes this his most impactful film in a career of high-water marks.
this film is definitely worth your time. for the horror/exploitation/b-movie buff or layman irrespective, this is a truly great achievement.
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