The video above is Tim Burton’s first project, Vincent, completed in 1982. Vincent is the story of a young boy with a wild imagination, influenced by his love of both Vincent Price and Edgar Allan Poe. He pretends to be like Vincent Price and also like characters in Poe’s tales and poems, most notable the narrator of “The Raven”. This pretend play drives him to delusions of himself being a tortured artist, and ultimately to his own “death” while quoting the ending lines of “The Raven”.
This was the fist time I had seen the short film Vincent, and it did really help me to learn some things about Tim Burton and his work. While I had previously learned about Burton’s beginnings with Disney and his drawings, I did not know that his first project was actually stop-motion animation. I knew that this was his favorite form of animation, but not that it was his first. I had also previously known that Burton looked up to Price and had considered him a mentor, but I only learned through watching this short film that Burton actually worked with Price. Vincent Price narrated this short film. Burton had grown up idolizing Vincent Price, much like the protagonist of the story, Vincent Malloy, but to see that he was able to work with his idol so early in his career was surprising. Another interesting thing, given the previous discoveries I had made about Burton. was that he was able to make a dark film under Disney’s Animation Studios. Vincent is listed as Disney’s second horror movie, after 1980’s The Watcher in the Woods. The idea of a Disney horror movie is interesting enough, but given that Burton’s dark and “traumatizing” style was what caused his later departure from Disney, it is surprising to see that this film was made to completion, though it was never released individually.
Looking at Burton’s Vincent is very beneficial in answering my guiding question. Having learned about Burton’s own childhood and his fascination with horror, Vincent Price, and Edgar Allan Poe at such a young age, it is not hard to see that Vincent Malloy is a representation of Burton himself. Vincent directly answers the question of how events in Burton’s life influenced his film making by presenting situations which directly correlate to his childhood experiences. Tim Burton is Vincent Malloy, so Vincent is a kind of autobiographical fiction story. Burton’s own disconnect from his family is showcased in Vincent Malloy’s mother being so disconnected from her son and his delusions. She does not show him compassion, but rather reprimands her son’s creative play. Both children are trapped in darkness and find their only companion in the family dog. The entire film is a reproduction of Burton’s childhood, presented in his signature dark, stop-motion animation.