Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Film Review: Ed Wood

Fig. 1 Ed Wood poster
A 1994 film directed by Tim Burton, Ed Wood is a biopic (biographical film) that explores the career of one of the most notorious film makers in cinema, Edward D. Wood Jnr. Wood produced his fair share of films throughout his career, none of which reaching success. However some of his most well known works such as "Plan 9 From Outer Space" quickly became cult classics following his death in 1978. The film follows Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) from the off set of his career, directing the film "Glen Or Glenda", finishing with the premiere of "Plan 9 From Outer Space". 

Tim Burton strives for authenticity in Ed Wood. In his recreation of Wood's career, Burton has the film remakes including "Glen Or Glenda" and "Plan 9 From Outer Space", mimic the originals down to each detail, making sure that everything Wood put into the originals was in his own. This included things from characters and cast to sets and costumes. Even the mishaps from Wood's films are incorporated into Burton's remakes. Below are two shots from the same moment in "Glen Or Glenda", first Ed Wood's original and then Tim Burton's remake:

Fig. 2 Glen or Glenda (Ed Wood)
Fig. 3 Glen Or Glenda (Tim Burton)

"If you are interested in this movie because you have seen Plan 9 from Outer Space, you'll love the last part of this film, which focuses on the making and release of Plan 9. What's neat about it is how the scene doesn't use footage from the original Plan 9 film. Rather, it features the actors in this 1994 film playing the original Plan 9 cast and reenacting scenes from the sci-fi film. I was quite impressed by how the reenactment of Plan 9 looks so much like the original Plan 9. This is a great example of authenticity in the portrayal of actual events." (AFR, -) 

On top of the authenticity that Burton achieves in Ed Wood he also brings in his fascination with 1950's B-movies. Burton chose to film the Ed Wood in black and white as his attempt to revive a filmic style that he enjoys. And due to the nature of the film it fits quite nicely; wood made low budget B-movies and Burton, in his biopic has used a part of that style to bring the feel of the film full circle.

"Filming in black and white helped-it became a sort of unifying character. Production design and music, too-all of those elements you treat as characters; you listen and look as you would with an actor." (Burton, -)

"Part of the decision to do Ed Wood in black and white came when we were doing makeup tests with Rick Baker. Rick said, "What color were Bela's eyes?" and we realized none of us had seen Bela Lugosi in color. And since we were portraying him as he hadn't really been seen, kind of out of it, we realized we didn't want to be asking those kinds of questions." (Burton, -)

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Ed Wood (1994) Ed Wood Poster. 
At: (Accessed on 21/09/11)

Figure 2. Glen or Glenda (1953) Glen or Glenda (Ed Wood).
At: (Accessed on 21/09/11)

Figure 3. Ed Wood (1994) Glen Or Glenda (Tim Burton). 
(Accessed on 21/09/11)


AFR (-) Ed Wood 
At: (Accessed on 21/09/11)

Minadream (-) Tim Burton Interviewed By Gavin Smith 
At: (Accessed on 21/09/11)

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