Tim Burton's latest cinematic adventure, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, opens on the 30th of September and has already started to get glowing reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film — the trailer for which you can watch below — follows young Jacob as he discovers an orphanage filled with children with spectacular superpowers. He finds solace in this refuge for weirdos and assumes the responsibility of defending the special place from dark forces.
Tim Burton is an auteur director who's become very comfortable in his own style, and the more films he directs, the more of a pattern we see emerging. So let's have run-through our Tim Burton checklist to see if he's sticking to the formula: Obsession with Victorian England — check, precocious children — check, lovable weirdos — check, Helena Bonham-Carter — well, Eva Green is doing her best impression, Johnny Depp — wait, where's Jonny Depp?
That's right Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is missing Burton's whimsical pied-piper, Johnny Depp. The Burton-Depp partnership was one of the strongest in Hollywood and has produced nine films in total, providing audiences with some incredible characters and unforgettable moments.
However, in recent years, the idea-well has run dry and the duo have debatably become repetitive and unimaginative, which has caused critics and fans to turn their backs. Could it be that their partnership has come to an end due to artistic exhaustion or the recent turmoil in Depp's life? Could it be that the success of Miss Peregrine was due to Depp's absence? We break down the duo's strange and beautiful partnership and discuss whether or not they should part ways for good.
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The Golden Years Are Far Behind Us
The beautiful, black rose that was the Depp-Burton partnership first blossomed way back in 1990 when a young Depp auditioned for the main role in Edward Scissorhands. The young actor was eager to shirk the pretty poster-boy image the press was smothering him with and this role was a perfect jump in the other direction. In many ways, Edward Scissorhands laid the blueprint for Burton and Depp. They stumbled upon something beautiful and have been trying to recapture that magic ever since.
Listen to what the duo had to say about their characters below:
The typical Burton-Depp character is a freak with a heart of gold, trying to fit into a conventional community. Many characters in this community are repelled by his appearance but there are some malicious opportunists who try to manipulate his naiveté. This character is the emotional core of their extensive filmography: Willy Wonka, Ichibod Crane, Barnabas Collins, Ed Wood. The duo created lovable outsiders that taught kids, teenagers, and adults that it was OK to be different, in fact, it was better to be unique. Slowly and surely, they lost sight of that principal and started trying to be weird for weird's sake.
What Went Wrong?
When MTV asked Burton to describe his relationship with his favorite actor, the director presented it as a bizarre dialogue between two like-minded weirdos:
"It's very nice to have someone that you can have a completely abstract conversation with and leave the room, feel like everything's fine, and then realize that if you pick it apart, you have absolutely no idea what either of you said."
Maybe their creative exhaustion was the result of a communication breakdown and they realized that they weren't on the same page anymore? Somewhere along the way, Depp and Burton fell into their comfort zones and instead of creating new characters, relied heavily on rebooting and rehashing already established characters in Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.
Was Dark Shadows the moment when audiences said "no more!"?
Critics and audiences began rolling their eyes as the duo revealed their "quirky" characters in ever-more Victorian settings. Johnny Depp's public persona began to encroach on his acting too, and he seemed to struggle to retain the former innocence and effervescence that made us love his characters in the first place.
What Does The Future Hold For Johnny And Timmy?
Perhaps there just wasn't a role for Depp in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children but it seems that the two have parted ways for good. The disastrous box office returns for Alice: Through The Looking Glass and Burton working on Bettlejuice 2 without Depp suggest their partnership is as dead as the Corpse Bride. On the bright side, a reinvigorated Burton seems to have found his voice again with his latest film and it seems that working with new actors has allowed him to try to explore new personalities and themes.
However, their future doesn't have to be as bleak and drab as Burton's current visual style. By working with other artists and pushing themselves out of their very-comfortable-comfort-zone they can rediscover what made Edward Scissorhands special. Sometimes that means taking a scissor to the blueprint and creating characters who are more morally ambiguous like Ed Wood or Sweeney Todd. Sometimes it means creating original characters instead of relying on literary adaptations. Either way, once the dastardly duo have finished seeing other people, we hope they can stay together for the kids.
Who's your favorite Depp-Burton character?