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ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

The new film by Tim Burton entitled "Frankenweenie" will be released on January 17th 2013 in cinemas. The film, made with the classic stop-motion technique so dear to the director, includes among the actors who lend their voices to the characters of the story also Winona Ryder (Elsa), Atticus Shaffer, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara (Edgar and Victor's mother) and Martin Landau (Mr. Rzykruski). The peculiarity of this story - which then for Burton is not peculiarity - consists in the fact that the film is all in black and white, as if to underline the somewhat gloomy atmosphere of the story. The film was, of course, made in 3D.

The script of the film is entrusted to John August who had previously worked with Burton in other box office hits such as "The Corpse Bride"," Big fish "and" The chocolate factory ". The soundtrack is, instead, by Danny Elfman who, by all accounts, has created a small musical masterpiece, which accompanies the images and makes them, if possible, still darker and more menacing, just like the director intended.

The feature film is the remake of a short film, shot in live action for budget reasons, by Burton himself dating back to 1984. Today this feature becomes a candidate for an Oscar in its category thanks to the production - and the money - of Disney and more than two hundred plasticine puppets, created for the occasion, which give life to the characters of this umpteenth Burtonian classic.

By American standards, the film fell short of box office expectations and grossed "just" just over $ XNUMX million. After so many months of waiting it finally arrives in Italian cinemas and there is great curiosity about the welcome it will receive, also because the latest films made by Burton have somewhat disappointed the expectations of our local viewers. We refer, of course, to "Dark Shadows" and above all "Alice in the Wonderland"which aroused the perplexity of many fans.

But let's see what visionary story the unforgettable genius of "Night before Christmas" reserves for us this time.

Victor and Sparky - Frankenweenie
Victor and Sparky

ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

The 87-minute viewing of "Frankenweenie" - which opens with a dark, cloud-soaked and almost claustrophobic sky - tells the story of almost eleven-year-old Victor Frankenstein, a rather introverted boy with very different tastes than those of his peers, who likes to devote his time to making absurd-flavored films and scientific experiments in the attic of his home in New Holland. This is the only way he knows to try to snatch some "good", from the distracted yet affectionate father who is always too verbose. A good guy like the one that is granted to him after his father's vision of his monster movie, for which Victor has worked so hard, an episode that is a bit the beginning of the film.
His favorite company is the dog Sparky, a bull terrier faithful friend of his childhood lived up to now, who has been able to make the life of the child who has always felt alone and inadequate less sad and empty, perceiving the little dog as the only one who really loved him. But one bad day Sparky accidentally dies hit by a car. It will be the beginning of the catastrophe for the inhabitants of New Holland.

Victor tends to bring Sparky back to life
Victor tends to bring Sparky back to life

ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

Victor, not resigning himself to the loss of his playmate, decides to put into practice one of the numerous experiments up to that moment only partially conducted - and inadvertently suggested by his science professor Mr. Rzykruski, of whom he is a great admirer - and brings Sparky back to life albeit with some minor "adjustments". Although Victor tries to keep the news hidden, in the small community where he unfortunately lives "everyone knows everything about everyone" and it is not easy to hide a little dog who has two bolts on the side of his neck, several dents and seams all over his body and one tail that breaks at the slightest wagging. After keeping him locked up in the house for a long time, one day Sparky manages to escape showing himself to the world for what he is: a monstrous cross between a living and a dead that arouses more horror than tenderness.

At first, troubled by the novelty, the inhabitants of New Holland are hostile to the new version of Sparky, fearing for their safety. But things, you know, are never what they seem and the human being is definitely famous for being sudden in changing opinions. So soon, having discovered the story, all his schoolmates, who until then had cordially ignored him if not laughed at him, will begin to look for him and consider him, in the desire to bring back the dead animal companions. But in reality, behind the dream of resurrecting the faithful companions of the past, hides the much more earthly one of winning the annual science competition and Victor, with his non-alive dog, represents too much of a cumbersome competitor.

Elsa van Helsing - Frankenweenie
Elsa van Helsing

ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

The city will soon be filled with a series of non-living, not always motivated by good intentions, who will disrupt the life of New Holland. At this point, a series of absurd adventures with a tragicomic flavor will begin that will see as protagonists not only children but also their animal alter egos. Yes, because other great protagonists of history are precisely the animals returned to the world of the living. Not only Sparky, changed in appearance but not in character and feelings towards his owner, but also the pets of Victor's schoolmates, especially his girlfriend, the little dog Persephone.

To embody all the prototypes of mankind we think Victor's little schoolmates. Among these we find Elsa Van Helsing, who is the somber and sensitive granddaughter of the mayor, who forces her to play the part of the little Dutch woman at the annual Flemish festival. Elsa will be the only one to truly suffer next to Victor for the loss of Sparky.
Then there is Stranella, a little girl who closely resembles the classic myth of Cassandra, destined to be marginalized by her peers because she is the author of gloomy predictions that she pronounces with her eyes eternally lost in the void. The same look that his cat also has, Mr. Bafffino (with three F's pronounced below!).
Among the "bad guys" we have the mayor Burgemeister, Elsa's uncle, a maniac of precision, who can't stand Sparky because he fears it will ruin his well-kept garden. Bob's mother, on the other hand, another not very edifying adult figure, is a desperate housewife who, plump and hysterical, has little to share with the beautiful housewives of the homonymous series. His vision of life - simple, childish and stereotyped - represents everything that director Burton has always lashed against, and continues to do so in this film as well.

Victor and Sparky - Frankenweenie

ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

Then there are Victor's terrible school friends, the ones none of us wanted to have anything to do with in school. Toshiaki is the one who has a more conflictual relationship with Victor, because it is based on competition. In order to beat the little scientist he will be willing to do anything, even to blame himself for the crime of theft. Nassor, on the other hand, is a bit out of the chorus because he stands out for the depth of his thoughts and for his vision of life that is a bit dark and pessimistic. Initially skeptical of the success of Victor's experiments, he will later become his most vocal supporter after discovering Sparky's secret.
Then there is Bob, completely at the mercy of Toshiaki's mind. Basically Bob would also be a good boy and completely devoid of meanness, but the strong personality of his friend is able to influence him so much that he does whatever he wants. Except, then, surprise us in the final when he runs to Victor's aid.
Edgar, known to all simply as "E", is the real misfit of the group. He also has no friends and dreams of being accepted by others and to achieve this, he hopes to participate in the science fair by helping Victor in his project. But "E" is also a child who just can't keep secrets and will reveal to everyone that of Victor and Sparky, only to be seized by guilt for the consequent problems that his choice will entail.

The ending of the film is too obvious for a director who prides himself on ignoring the meaning of the traditional happy ending of Disney films.

Elsa van Helsing - Frankenweenie

ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

"Frankenweenie" is not a children's film. Or rather ... within the same film it is possible, as in almost all Burton films but here even more, to glimpse two levels of vision. The first, dedicated to children and more marginal, is an edifying story of good feelings and friendship, with a view to accepting the "different", worthy of love despite and above all for its diversity. But it is the second floor to be the predominant one, and it is the one reserved for adults. It could be said that "Frankenweenie" is a film designed and created for an audience that is no longer a teenager, who will not only enjoy discovering within the story the numerous references to Burton's other short films and to the vast repertoire of the horror genre in its most wide meaning, but he will also appreciate the more or less veiled condemnation that Burton reserves to the small bourgeois world of the American province, eternally frightened by what is different and far from the quiet daily routine, capable of marginalizing those who cannot be understood. And in this there is just so much autobiographical, realistic to the director's childhood, which has lent more than a few personal characteristics to the protagonist Victor.
But it is a film reserved for an adult audience, also because it brings to the fore a never dormant debate on the limits of science. How far can we go in the name of technological progress and that of medicine? Can love and the desire not to lose the object of one's affection forever justify any action? The question remains unanswered, also because in the feature film the difference is quite clear between Sparky, who despite changing his appearance remains a loving dog because he was lovingly recalled to life by his master, and the other dogs that have not received the same affection. and they don't give it back once they come back to life.

Tim Burton with the models from the film - Frankenweenie
Tim Burton with the models of the film

ï ¿½ Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions

The reviews of those who have already seen the film (it premiered on November 2nd in some Italian cinemas) are not consistent with Tim Burton's latest effort. In particular, they accuse him of not being able to dare more, almost as if his creative and visionary streak had run out, so much so that he had to re-propose schemes that are now too well known. Indeed, the eternal clash between what is considered by the vast majority as "normal" and what is different, which is always present in every social community, is one of the director's usual workhorses. But to immerse oneself in a well-known plot must be perceived by the viewer as an advantage, because the plot will not take one's gaze and mind away from everything the film aims to be, that is, an opportunity to smile and reflect.
Could this have been the speech that Disney made when it agreed to produce and distribute the least Disney film in its history? Probably given that back in 1984 he had refused to produce the same film as the then semi-unknown Burton, considering it too different from the "good feelings and Goofy, Pluto and Mickey Mouse" genre he had proposed up to that moment. Thirty years later you change your mind. Stylistic choice or decision dictated by the need to achieve another box office box office record, given the not so brilliant Disney hits of recent seasons? Everyone to the cinema from January 17th to find out the answer.

Italian poster by Frankenweenie
Original title: 
3d animation
87 '
Directed by: 
Tim Burton
Official site: 
Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Italy
Exit date: 
January 17, 2013 at the cinema


All names, images and trademarks are copyright Walt Disney Pictures, Tim Burton Animation Co., Tim Burton Productions and those entitled to them and are used here exclusively for cognitive and informative purposes.

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