Review~ Fated To Be Under-rated, Depp Is Barnabas; Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows, with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter & Eva Green; Tim Burton, director.  I found this to be fascinating, to say the least.  I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks & in my eagerness, I forgot that only a segment of the population would really know (slightly appreciate) what this film successfully honors.

Dark Shadows was a soap opera that played from June 1966 to April ’71.  It was a wonderful melodrama with exaggerated characters, one of which was Barnabas Collins.  Joan Bennett, by then a has-been, was the biggest name to it all & the rest of it thrived by being an outlandish, gothic story.

For some reason, it (the soap opera) really didn’t seem so odd back then, I was an impressionable child that ate it up, every crumb.  The country (U.S.) had other things going on to concern itself with something that today’s prudes would censor instantly.  I was in awe of it, because it really (actually) was odd, odd & more odd.  Soaps back then were really awkward.  (& Fun!)

Tim Burton is again a master puppeteer & Johnny is the perfect manikin.  It lacked sufficient referential guides to it to appeal to a larger audience, I think.  Perhaps the box office numbers will prove that out.  I, however; found it to be absolutely faithful in spirit, to above said audience.  To everyone else, I would think it entertaining & malevolently audacious.

Especially, the musical score, which combines elements of the old soap’s repetitive background program-score.  It was so beauteous!  (I’m exaggerating, it was interesting).  I really thought it stitched the scenes together tastefully.

What many people will not understand is that the awkwardness of the original soap opera is also incorporated in to this perfect reflection.  So there are really scary scenes when we see Pfeiffer sort of hesitate in her lines.  Don’t be alarmed, I remember that to be loyal to the original live recordings & tipsy actors.  Did I say that?

It is wicked, in every sense of the word.  Depp, Green & Pfeiffer are subservient to the film, which is refreshing indeed.  Burton’s films always remind me of elaborate automaton, puppet plays.  Something a child should never see, but if it does it’s fascinated for life.  The film conveys a wonderful sense of pure evil; without vulgarity, obsequious gore & actual human skin tones.

I love anything that definitely mirrors the 1970’s.  A sick fetish of mine that makes my knees shake when seeing a yellow, orange or brown, plastic sticky or bland pieces of wood.  My teens, in that horrible decade, were spent on the outside looking in at all the crazy styles, colors, gigantic cars & civil unrest.  I wonder if it actually scarred my mind.  Depp is capable of such a crime in this film, because he’s such a talented actor.  Not kidding.

All in all, I really hope this film is successful enough to merit equally daring ventures in the future.  Artistic perfection isn’t always popular but this thing definitely deserves some kudos.  Burton is a perfectionist, to say the most.

I recommend Dark Shadows, it deserves a big audience & if one doesn’t understand it, but has patience, it really will be a rewarding view.  I loved it.  Don’t be scared.

2 responses

  1. Loved loved loved this review! Love love love love Depp and I will not miss this movie. now, of course, I’m curious as all hell to find out what happened in the USA during the period ’66 to ’71 (apart from the Vietnam War which was a war & by definition tragic) ….