Hello, fellow Trent film fans! After our successful double bill of Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) and Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936), the Trent Film Society (TFS) is excited to switch gears and screen three back-to-back Hollywood themed films.
To kick this off, we will bring to you a screening of the highly underrated Tim Burton film, Ed Wood (1994), starring Johnny Depp in the titular role. Released in 1994 to strong reviews albeit abysmal box office returns, Ed Wood follows the true story of famed Hollywood director Edward Davis Wood Jr., a filmmaker from the 1950s and ‘60s who was notorious for his catalogue of critically- and commercially- reviled films. The film follows Ed as he journeys through producing some of his most well-known films, as well as
examining his strong relationships with those who accompanied him in his directorial pursuits.
When looking through Ed Wood’s history, it really makes you wonder how this movie avoided devolving into a two-hour mockery of the man’s life and career. I mean, with a filmography that includes such films as The Sinister Urge (1960), Glen or Glenda (1953), and the infamously awful Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), as well as his notoriously peculiar public persona, it could have been very easy for Burton and co. to produce a completely mean-spirited ridiculing of Ed Wood and his Hollywood escapades. What this film does shockingly well though, is it avoids this temptation and instead goes beyond his persona and really tries to understand Ed Wood, the person. With this approach, the film avoids shaming Wood and instead plays as a love letter to his undeniable resilience and creativity.
Much of this can be credited to Burton’s strong appreciation of Wood. While Burton has proven to be much more successful both commercially and critically with his filmography, when compared to Wood both directors share many artistic traits with one another. Like Wood, Burton is also a filmmaker who is able to obtain a large amount of creative freedom with his projects, has a strong cult following, dabbles in the eccentric, and has a core group of consistently used actors.
With similarities like this, and more, it is very easy to see why Burton has such a deep admiration for Wood’s creative output, and that admiration bleeds out into the film very evidently. With his choice of a retro-like black and white aesthetic, mixed with 1950s B-movie sensibilities (such as a zany over-the-top and energy, mixed with some obvious sound-stages and a dramatic score), Burton successfully celebrates the plight of the artist who is struggling to have their voice heard. By doing this, he creates a film that is not only extremely unique and entertaining, but also relatable and surprisingly touching. When we live in a contemporary society chock-full of cynical cinema, it is nice to be able to sit back and enjoy a film that is as unabashedly optimistic as Ed Wood.
So, with all that said, the TFS would like to invite you all to Artspace at 8PM on Wednesday, November 11 for a screening of this underseen gem of a film. Like all of our other screenings, this showing is absolutely free and all people are welcome. Hope to see you there!