Vincent (Tim Burton, 1982, USA)

Made in 1982, Vincent is perhaps Tim Burton's most well-known short effort. The film uses stop-motion animation. It opens with a suitably gothic title card, set against a wall. A black cat climbs the wall and we are brought into the room of a young boy, who is playing a recorder. "Vincent Malloy is 7 years old," we hear from Vincent Price's narration. Vincent Malloy, we hear, wants to be just like Vincent Price. The boy turns into Vincent Price. Price continues to read the poetry, contrasting Vincent's mundane life to his desire to be Vincent Price in a dark mansion - "alone and tormented."

We already see many characters who would reappear in The Nightmare Before Christmas. We meet Vincent's aunt, who Vincent imagines dipping in wax for his wax museum. We learn that he looks to experiment on his dog Abercrombie, to create a zombie dog. We learn about Vincent's reading habits (his favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe). Vincent digs up a "grave" in the garden, but it is his mother's flower bed. The contrast between Vincent's mundane life and his imagination as a tortured gothic figure is very funny. Vincent Price delivers it with just the right tone.

We learn that the years of "isolation" had made Vincent quite weak (after his grounding). His mother confronts him, telling him that he is not tormented, just a 7-year-old boy. The film concludes with Vincent collapsing on the floor and quoting "The Raven" from Edgar Allan Poe. Vincent packs a ton of imagination into 5 minutes and shows a distinct vision and flair that would become the signature trademarks of Burton's career. It is remarkable how this visual style was so well-developed so early on in Burton's career. The apotheosis was of course The Nightmare Before Christmas



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