Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood”: A Love Letter to the Artist


Photo: ‘Ed Wood’

“Ed Wood” could easily have been a mean movie as it follows one of the most infamous directors of all time. As ‘the disaster artist‘, following the notoriously bad director, Tommy wiseau, 1994’s “Ed Wood” follows the notoriously bad director of schlock films like “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Realized by Tim burton, “Ed Wood” does not mock or satirize the failed director, but rather describes him as an endearing but flawed dreamer. This loving portrayal of an artist is perhaps Tim Burton’s most personal film, as it is a love letter to all struggling artists.

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Follow your dreams despite roadblocks

Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) is obsessed with the art of cinema. He begins by doing a job in one of the Hollywood studios, still in awe of the surrounding beauty despite the mistreatment inflicted by his supervisors. He doesn’t care though; it is just one more step towards the pursuit of his dreams. Once Ed Wood gets the funding to make his own films, the roadblocks begin. Much of the failure of Ed Wood’s films can be attributed to the obstacles he faced, from small budgets to tight filming schedules. Despite these blockages, Ed Wood has always kept the same positive spirit.

In one of the funniest scenes in the movie, the crew realizes that they don’t have an engine for their octopus while filming “The Monster’s Bride.” This means that the famous actor Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau), must wrestle with the octopus, shaking its tentacles, in order to give the impression that it is being attacked. Ed Wood does not give up but offers an alternative (a campy alternative but always an alternative). These inexpensive solutions are seen throughout the film, from Ed using foil pans as flying saucers to always using the first take to save time. While it can be easy to assume that Ed did all of this out of laziness or carelessness, the film shows that these were just solutions to the obstacles every artist faces.

At one point in the movie, Ed goes to the bar after a stressful day on set and meets Orson Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio), who was fighting at the time for funding for his unfinished film “Don Quixote”. The two talk about the hurdles they face, from funding to boring producers, and Orson tells Ed that “the visions are worth fighting for.” While this has never happened in real life (Ed has never met Welles in a bar while wearing women’s clothes), the scene is one of the most poetic in the film.

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Two different artists, one considered the greatest director and the other considered the worst, tell each other about the obstacles they still face. This shows that all artists experience the same problems despite their establishment. While this is a heartwarming message for any artist to hear, the scene also ends with a rallying cry, which every vision is worth fighting for. While showing the difficulties artists face can seem terrible and grim, the scene wants the artist to know that their visions have value and that obstacles are worth overcoming.

‘Ed Wood’ – Find your tribe among other artists

One of the highlights of “Ed Wood” is the way the friendship between Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi is portrayed. Ed Wood is the young Hollywood neophyte, the one who has big dreams while Bela Lugosi is the older and bitter Hollywood expert, the one who achieved his dreams but is now “washed”. The two are in very different phases of their lives but are starting to work together, with Ed fulfilling his dream of working with his childhood hero and Bela finally being able to make films after a four-year hiatus. The two work together to fulfill their dreams of making movies and thus become friends in the process through their mutual love of cinema.

Ed Wood has his own group of weirdos and friends who work on his films with him. Among his friends, there is John “Bunny” (Bill Murray), a depressed drag queen, Tor Johnson (George “The Animal” Steele), a professional wrestler, and Vampira (Lisa Marie), a gothic horror movie host. All of Ed’s friends are strangers for one reason or another, even Ed himself is a stranger due to the fact that he enjoys wearing women’s clothes. Ed’s films are a way for him and his friends to express themselves and have fun with their art. Ed’s friends are loyal to him and will do anything to help him achieve his visions, such as getting baptized. It shows the reality of many artists, especially those who are seen as outsiders, in that they stick together and form their own families. A found family that helps each other with their art and a found family that “stays weird” together.

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Not everyone understands Ed and his friends. In one scene from the film, the group has a closing party and Ed performs a drag dance number. While all of his friends cheer and support the show, his girlfriend, Dolores (Sarah Jessica Parker), slams it saying “you’re crazy you’re wasting your life doing shit, nobody cares. These films are terrible.

Dolores acts like the person every artist deals with in their life, someone close to her who doesn’t understand why he’s an artist and doesn’t like art itself. Ed and Dolores go their separate ways and he soon meets Kathy (Patricia arquette), a woman who supports not only his films but his “disguise”. She fits into the group of weirdos and even loves Ed for his quirkiness. It shows an image full of hope that the artist will eventually eliminate the toxic people in their lives and “find their tribe”, the quirky colleagues and artists who will work with them and support their visions.

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‘Ed Wood’ is Tim burtonThe most personal and beautiful film of, acting as a love letter to Ed Wood’s work and acting as a love letter to all artists. The film shows the importance of keeping your visions alive despite the obstacles that stand in your way, as well as the importance of keeping a positive attitude at every turn. The film also shows the beauty of an artist “finding his tribe”, working with his bizarre comrades and supporting each other. It could have been so easy for ‘Ed Wood’ to be a petty satire that cheap movies were in the fifties, but Tim Burton has too much love for the art of film and Ed Wood to overwrite. Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” could have been a staple biopic, but it’s more of an inspiring and passionate portrayal of the struggling artist.

‘Ed Wood’ is available to stream on Tubi.

Director: Tim Burton Screenwriters: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski

Actors: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones, Bill Murray

By Brianna Benozich

Click here to read Hollywood Insiders CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he discusses more than police reform, press freedom and more – click here.

Extract from the love letter: Hollywood Insiders CEO / editor Pritan Ambrose affirms, “The Hollywood Insider fully supports the much needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally part of this global movement. We will continue to report on this major problem of police brutality and legal murders of blacks to hold the system accountable. We will continue to report on this major issue with kindness and respect to all black people, as each and every one of them is seen and heard.

Just a reminder, that the Black Lives Matter movement is not limited to police brutality and extends to banks, housing, education, medicine, infrastructure, etc. We have the space and time for all of your stories. We believe in peaceful / non-violent protests and I would like to ask the rest of the media to focus on 95% of protests that are peaceful and work effectively with positive changes happening on a daily basis. The media have a responsibility to improve the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so.

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