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Dark Shadows, Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

Dark Shadows is a 2012 comedy-drama by Tim Burton based on the eponymous soap opera, which aired from 1966 to 1971.  Dark Shadows features Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins and Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, two actors that have frequently collaborated with Burton on various films; furthermore, Bonham Carter has been romantically linked to the director since 2001.  Dark Shadows is a fantastic tale of unrequited, supernatural love and the eternal consequences of rejection.  Through its mise-en-scene, Dark Shadows proves to be a visually enticing film and entertaining film.

Dark Shadows retains much of its “Gothic” tone through its setting and art direction.  The film’s story begins in the 1760s when the Collins family moves from England to Maine and founds a fishing port subsequently called Collinsport.  After Barnabas seduces and discards the family’s maid—and witch, Angelique Bouchard (played by Eva Green), and then falls in love with another woman Josette du Pres, Angelique magically urges to commit suicide by leaping off a cliff.  While Barnabas attempts to save Josette and subsequently attempt to commit suicide to quench his grief, he cannot do so because Angelique has turned him into a vampire, convinces a mob to capture and bury him, and curses his family.  It can be argued that the witchcraft aspect of the film is reminiscent of the witch scare of Salem, Massachusetts during the 1690s, which is shortly after these events in Collinsport take place.  Moreover, the film places emphasis on fishing as a way of life, an industry that prospered in New England around the time Collingsport would have been settled and up through present times.  The film jumps to 1972, approximately 196 after Barnabas was buried, and allows the viewer to see how much the Collins dynasty has changed and how much Collinsport has changed all the while remaining the same.  While fishing is still a major industry in Collinsport, the Collins family no longer controls the fishing industry and the Collins family is a dysfunctional family who is cursed to never find love.

Through the film’s mise-en-scene, Burton is able to create a visually inspiring film which supports a marginally weak storyline.  One of the first things the viewer notices is Dark Shadows’ rich and saturated color.  This color helps to establish the decadence of the Collins family formerly enjoyed and helps to show the viewer that although the family is not regarded as being of high social standing in 1972, they are still a prominent family because of their strong ties to the community and each other.  Costuming also helps to establish the mood of the film.  Although Barnabas is wearing costuming that is more reminiscent of the Victorian era, it contrasts well with the costuming of the 1970s.  Additionally, it is not so radically different that it detracts from the film’s narrative.  Overall, the look of the film was dark and gloomy, which fit perfectly with the supernatural and Gothic theme.

Stylistically, Dark Shadows fit in with many of Tim Burton’s other films.  It was dark and full of fantasy.  Additionally, in keeping with his current trend, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were prominently featured.  The absurdity found in other adaptations such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was also found in the film.

While the film was entertaining to watch, I wonder if I would have been more informed about the film’s background had I been familiar with the soap opera on which it was based.  Additionally, I felt the film’s narrative to be too predictable and obvious.  Because of these issues, and the supernatural element, I found the film to be overly cheesy and difficult to take seriously whatsoever.  In the end, I felt the film was yet another Tim Burton commercial film.  While he tried to appeal to a cult audience, he overreached and created a disappointing film.

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Movie Review