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Lighting is used by Tim Burton to create certain gothic moods within the film such as fear. It is also used to create uncertainty with shadows. Burton uses blue lighting a lot to create the gothic moods and nature of each film. For example in Sleepy Hollow it is used in the windmill scene as a source of light which is meant to be the moon. It is also used as flashes of lightning, both used so frequently in gothic films and both adding to the gothic mood and tension of the scene.
The lightning flashes also cast shadows, but only for a split second, this also adds to the gothic feel of the scene. Blue lighting is used in a similar way in Edward Scissorhands in the scene at Edward’s house before the big fight. The blue lighting representing the moon comes in through a hole in the roof, not only does this in itself add to the gothic mood it also casts shadow. This means that Edward, with his typically gothic style clothes, are nearly completely in shadow when not directly lit, this adds tension and uncertainty into the gothic mood, as we cannot see Edwards facial expressions and his dark clothes add to this. This is quite similar to Ichabod in Sleepy Hollow, as he has quite dark gothic type clothes too.
However, the flash-backs in Sleepy Hollow are lit much differently to the real time scenes. They are usually in well-lit areas, for example the scene where the stepmother kills her sister. We can see lots of different colours like reds, greens and yellows, instead of the usual dark colours we are used to from the real time scenes. This is similar to the point of view shot in Edward Scissorhands, when we have the point of view of Edward looking down on the body of Jim after he fell out of the window. The colours we see there are yellows because it is shot at night time, which are different to the whites we sometimes see in Sleepy Hollow for the foggy morning scenes. This shows that the way Tim Burton uses lighting to portrait different things (like flash-backs, tension and the gothic nature of the films as a whole) has a really good effect on the mood of the films.
The narrative of both of these films is important to the audience’s understanding of the each film. Especially in Sleepy Hollow where there is an unexpected twist in the plot. In the windmill, we see the biggest change, this is where the stepmother explains that she is the one summoning the headless horseman. Up until this point, the villain had been the headless horseman. However now that the stepmother has (through her dialogue) explained that she is the one manipulating the horseman, the audience begin to feel a slight pity for the horseman and a dislike of the new villain, the stepmother.
Quotes like “Watch your heads” as the trio (Katrina, Ichabod and Young Masbeth) go through the doorway, are clever as the horseman is also after Katrina’s head. The quote is also funny and helps the audience understand what is going on, that the stepmother is the new villain and that the horseman is coming for Katrina’s head and willing to kill the others if needs be. The narrative/dialogue is used similarly in Edward Scissorhands, to help the audience understand the plot and more specifically what is happening in each scene.
In Edward Scissorhands, we see a scene where Edward has to describe his innocence and ignorance to the suburban life, after living in his house alone for most of his life. This innocence is illustrated when Edward attempts to calm Kevin down and the people of suburbia think he’s attacking him. He is already in trouble for other things yet when the police come, the policemen lets Edward get away, and shoots his gun in the air. He tells the people of suburbia that it’s all over and they should go home. Up to this point the audience have felt a lot of sympathy for Edward, as he is innocent and being taken advantage of by Jim. Now the audience feel a lot of respect for the policeman as he obviously realises Edwards’s situation.
This shows that in both films, the narrative and dialogue is essential to help the audience’s understanding of the characters and the changing plot of each film. It is also used to point out the characteristics of characters, like the stepmother in Sleepy Hollow and the policeman in Edward Scissorhands. Tim Burton makes the main characters of each film a stereotypical gothic fantasy character. Edward in Edward Scissorhands has the typical black clothes, pale skin and gothic hair. Ichabod also has these characteristics as they are essential characteristics for a gothic fantasy hero. This is also the same for the heroine in each film.
For example in the climatic scene of Edward Scissorhands we see Kim wearing all white, illustrating her purity, innocence and virgin state until Jim throws her to the floor, then she has blood on her pure white dress suggesting her being tainted, this is when she gets more angry. The audience see that Edward and Kim love each other but Edward is unable to be in a relationship with anyone. The villagers in Edward Scissorhands all wear bright colours like reds and greens, this contrasts the gothic colours of Edward and makes it also seem like Tim Burton has reversed the gothic nature of colours in the film. This is also present in Jim, who could be described as the villain. Though he does not wear what is usually expected of a gothic fantasy villain.
Katrina in Sleepy Hollow similarly to Kim, wears white, also suggesting her purity and innocence. Whereas the stepmother wears a white dress but with black netting or embroidery all over it, almost covering up the white. This suggests that once she was like Katrina, but has been tainted with evil which has consumed her personality and character. So we can see that the way Tim Burton has characterized each character in the film to portrait the different role that they have. For example heroine and villain. He does this by their costumes and clothing, basically by their overall appearance. This helps the way the audience perceive the characters and understand their part in the film.
Tim Burton uses sets and props in each film to help illustrate the mood of the scene and to help show what is taking place in the narrative. For example, the scene where Thomas and Elizabeth Killian are killed by the horseman in Sleepy Hollow makes use of their child’s lamp as a prop. This scene is one with lots of tension and fear, the lamp helps illustrate this by casting shadows on the walls. Shadows are used frequently by Tim Burton to represent uncertainty, fear and tension, as they hide things from the audience.
In Edward Scissorhands the houses of suburbia are extremely colourful and this portraits an element of surrealism. Compared with Edward’s house, which has other gothic props like gargoyles on the gate, a very traditional gothic prop. The houses in suburbia are also very symmetrical on their road, which suggests a very orderly place until they brought Edward into the village. This contrasts heavily with Edwards’s home, which is basically the opposite. This shows that sets and props are extremely useful for helping to portrait moods and emotions among the audience, such as fear. They are also useful for contrasting places and people.
Music is used in both films by Tim Burton to help build tension in the audience. Especially in Sleepy Hollow where the music has a very gothic feel and typically builds in tempo and volume before a big climax. This is also the same in Edward Scissorhands, for example in the final climatic fight, we hear the music build in tempo and music until Edward stabs Jim and he falls out of the window. The music in both films is quite dramatic, but in Edward Scissorhands it has a slightly surreal aspect as well. Although it isn’t used the same as other aspects of cinematography to convey feelings to the audience, it is a very strong way of doing so and helps build an obvious tension, which is why Burton uses it in the way I have said.
In conclusion I think that Tim Burton uses very similar and effective techniques of cinematography in both Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow to communicate the gothic nature and narrative of the films to the audience. However there are some slight differences, such as Edward Scissorhands having some aspects reversed in a way that are not usually present in a gothic fantasy, such as the villain, Jim. I do think though that the way Tim Burton portraits both films is very effective, especially for the gothic fantasy genre.