Sunday, 25 September 2011

Movie review - Ed Wood

Tim Burton has managed to cature the high and lows Edward D Wood Jr as a biography as well as a film. “This brilliantly conceived film charts Ed's straight-line progression from obscurity into obscurity, a character journey that would make him seem an unlikely subject for a biopic. There is an arc of sorts, in that Plan 9 From Outer Space is actually notably better than Glen or Glenda?, the two films that bookend the portion of his life recounted here." (Murray, 2011) In his life, the real Ed Wood was claimed 'The Worst director in the World' and this also comes across in the film beginning with the characters' strange obsession of wanting to wear women's clothing and then to direct a film exploting those desires that the studio he presents to thinks it is a joke. Towards the other end of the scale is 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' which the character remarks as the film he would be remembered for and as a viewer we can see this sudden breakthrough in the new setting for the premiere and the audience treating the film and Ed Wood with respect, as we have completed the full journey alongside the character and finally he has the success he has craved for throughout the film.

 Figure 1, (2011), still of Edward dressed as Glenda

Burton also fought carefully how he wanted to potray the various characters in the film to match the time period and previous roles that matches their identity. "Tim Burton, with a biopic that is as much a parody as a tribute, has brought Wood to black-and-white life in the person of actor Johnny Depp, and surrounded him with a cast whose members often bear an uncanny resemblance to their real-life counterparts.” (Berardinelli, 1994) One of these strong uncanny resemblances is Martin Landau who potrays Bela Lugosi, Burton has made Lugosi's character resemble Dracula as it was the part he was most famous and recognised for. Burton has thought a lot about appearance and costume for the character as Lugosi has a deathly white skin tone and wears a black cape throughout the film, even the voice makes a viewer think of an early Dracula film. Another technique Burton used was to reflect Ed Wood's goals and ambitions in the scene where he meets Orson Welles, Welles explains to him how he had the same struggles to get his voice heard to how the films should be to his vision and how his producers didn't like Citizen Kane because he had a free reign to direct the film the way he wanted. This scene in the film then sparks Ed Wood to storm back into the studio and become more authoritive over the studio producers.

 Figure 2, (2011), still of Edward and Bella Lugosi

The effects and stage direction was also a crucial part of the film to help the audience understand what filming would of been like in the 1950's and to strenthen Johnny Depp's potrayal of Edwood. "The movie's black and white photography convincingly recaptures the look and feel of 1950's sleaze, including some of the least convincing special effects in movie history. (Ebert, 2000) Burton has purposely made the film black and white and made it feel cheap and of the period. The accidents and one takes that Ed Wood makes as he is directing his lame special effects or when an actor trips over a gravestone on a set, are all put in to put a comedic feel of the character's poor directing. The effects and acting in the film feels fake to capture the lifestyle of a failed director or an actor no longer appreciated, to make the atmosphere of early film believable to the audience.

Figure 3, (2010), Still of one of many shooting disasters as in the portrayal of Ed Wood the worst director ever

Illustration List

Figure 1, (2011), still of Edward dressed as Glenda, @, Accessed on 16th September 2011

Figure 2, (2011), still of Edward and Bella Lugosi, @, Accessed on: 2nd February 2011

Figure 3, (2010), Still of one of many shooting disasters as in the portrayal of Ed Wood the worst director ever, @, Accessed on: 23rd September 2010

Berardinelli  James, 1994, Ed Wood, @, Accessed on 1994
Ebert Roger, 2000, Ed Wood - Roger, @, Accessed on January 2000
Murray Matt, 2011, ED WOOD CPF reviews, @, Accessed on: 2011


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