Frankenweenie is a sparky little tale telling the story of Victor Frankenstein, a typical Burtonesque protagonist, and his loveable pet dog, Sparky. After the playful pooch falls prey to a fatal accident, leaving him dead and buried on top of a sinister hill, Victor attempts to reanimate his corpse in typical Frankenstein fashion, turning the charming children’s story into another brilliant Burton genre mashup of horror, comedy, fantasy and science fiction.
Unlike Burton’s previous few films, Frankenweenie returns to his roots of a love for Hammer House horror movies, and doing so in what can only be described as an elegant, nightmarish encounter with the hauntingly imaginative mind of Tim Burton. The German Expressionist elements are boldly evident throughout the film, from the stark contrasts in lighting, to the ghoulish shadows reminiscent of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922), extending to the characters clad in Expressionist fashion. Similarly, Frankenweenie is very postmodern in relation to its intertextual references, not only to Burton’s homage to the old horror movies that the ingenious director watched growing up, going so far as to mimic the look of those films by filming the animation in black and white, but likewise to his own movies. The glasses Vincent is wearing in the above left image for instance, when worn, is reminiscent of Willy Wonka in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005).
The genius behind the film itself, Tim Burton, originally directed Frankenweenie as a live-action short film way back in 1984 before he was made famous for films such as Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman (1989) and Beetlejuice (1988). The inter-textual reference could not be more
clear, transforming Frankenweenie into a delightful pastiche, introducing the classic movies that inspired Burton’s latest animated feature to a new generation.
The dvd unfortunately has a disappointing lack of special features, containing only a promotional Frankenweenie music video by Plain White T’s and a look at the touring exhibit that provided cinephiles worldwide with a glimpse of the props from the film. For a Disney children’s film, the dvd is lacking in its bonus content. The blu ray edition however does contain the original live-action Frankenweenie short, alongside the original short Captain Sparky vs the Flying Saucers, and a look at animating the minute figurines in Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life.
So if you are looking to buy the dvd primarily to catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes of the film, then blu ray is the way forward. Nevertheless, there is a significant lack of bonus features on both formats, even surprisingly excluding the trailer.
However, Frankenweenie was a brilliant film, being nominated for various ‘best animated feature’ awards including a nomination at last night’s Oscars, and so if you are a fan of classic horror movies, Tim Burton, or animated features, then Frankenweenie is an unmissable film of the past year.
The Frankenweenie (region 2) dvd is out and available to buy now.