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Tim Burton

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Helena Bonham Carter, to play Jacqui Jackson in TV drama, claims Tim Burton has autistic tendencies.


Bonham Carter feels her partner, the film director Tim Burton, may have autistic tendancies.

“I bet lots of animators are Asperger’s,” she told the Evening Standard. “Tim will kill me, but while making this drama, I realised he has a bit of Asperger’s in him. You start recognising the signs. We were watching a documentary about autism and he said that was how he felt as a child.

“But that quality also makes him a fantastic father; he has an amazing sense of humour and imagination. He sees things other people don’t see. Billy is enchanted by him.

“Jacqui’s Luke said that, without any Asperger’s, the world wouldn’t go around: they have application and dedication.” AutismConnect

Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton’s home life is unconventional to say the least – they live in Hampstead in two adjoining townhouses with a shared hallway, each house decorated and styled to suit their own personalities, because they felt they couldn’t live ‘together’ but didn’t want to live apart. Their son Billy sleeps in Tim’s side but spends most of his days in Helen’s side, which has a cosy kitchen.

Edward Scissorhands is also something of a cult film. His unique and recognizable visual art and tendency to sympathize with the outsider has led some to see Burton as an auteur. The singularity of his movies may have less to do with Burton as auteur, and more to do with the people commonly involved in his films; musician Danny Elfman, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and actress Winona Ryder are a few examples of some Burton collaborators involved with Burton projects aside from Edward Scissorhands. Nevertheless, this film seems to aptly support the notion of Burton as an auteur, as the allegorical structure of the film is supported by its cinematography, and its message is in keeping with the common theme of disability and the well-meaning outsider often explored by Burton in both films and books; here, it seems as though Burton has, either accidentally or intentionally, constructed a near-perfect allegory of a man afflicted with the autistic spectrum disorder known as Asperger’s Syndrome.


The most puzzling question this allegorical reading raises is this: why would Tim Burton, who seems to have had no knowledge of autism or Asperger’s syndrome have written such a precise allegory for the disorder? I would guess that the only way Tim Burton could have written this story, with all its implications, both subtle and overt, is if he himself is an individual with a disorder on the autistic spectrum, or was very close to a person similarly afflicted. Burton himself is described as an “introverted, unassuming person” (Jackson, McDermott). In his own biography, Burton on Burton, he says, about his childhood, that he was often alone, and had trouble retaining friendships. “I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don’t know exactly why. It was as if I was exuding some kind of aura that said ‘Leave Me The Fuck Alone (sic)'” Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands as a Psychological Allegory

Can you think of a film of Tim Burton’s that doesn’t explore the theme of the outsider? Edward Scissorhands is one of my favourite films. I remember seeing that alien pastel coloured neighbourhood through Edward’s eyes and feeling a strong empathy for him.

Being of that era, Heathers and Pump Up the Volume spring to mind as other classic ‘outsider’ allegories I remember from my school days.

I was entranced by Burton’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The main character was again played by Johnny Depp, who is suspiciously good at playing eccentric characters. During that film I kept thinking of Michael Jackson.

I’ve always had the perpetual feeling that I’m one of the few sane people on the planet and the rest of the world has gone mad. There are some authors that I read that I get this same sense from – that they’re constantly exploring life as an outsider in a weird world without even being consciously aware of it. Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett to name a few. They’re writing the stories of their lives.


Written by alienrobotgirl

5 October, 2007 at 7:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I to had thought this of Tim Burton.I there is a bit of autism in all of us.


    6 October, 2007 at 8:55 am

  2. —- I’ve always had the perpetual feeling that I’m one of the few sane people on the planet and the rest of the world has gone mad. —-These same feelings led me to a book called The Outsider by Colin Wilson. Recommended.


    7 October, 2007 at 11:08 pm

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