Visionary director Tim Burton on bringing the best-selling novel by Ransom Riggs to the big screen.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children could have been tailor-made for Tim Burton. Rich in fantastical imagery, quirky characters and epic set-pieces, it fits neatly into the director’s canon of fantasy works, which include Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, Sleepy Hollow and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Below, Burton talks about the balancing the spectacle with the personal, and why it will be good to see Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children on the small screen.
What does the idea of the ‘peculiars’ mean to you personally?
When I first heard the word peculiar as a child, I thought it was a negative comment, like you’re weird or something’s wrong with you, but now I see it as a compliment. When I see a peculiar person, that to me, is somebody I will probably like, somebody I would connect to. Usually they’re people who are perhaps quiet, or sensitive or more internal and have a creativity. It’s a very internal thing, peculiarity.
How would you describe the experience of viewing the film, especially for a home audience?
When you see the movie at the cinema it’s different. If you’re watching this film at home, TVs are getting bigger which is good, because I think you see more detail. The good thing about seeing a movie over and over again, is the details and we have a lot of details. From the design of Emma’s shoes to the design of the monsters, the costumes, the way Eva will look at a person to the subtleties.
The movie combines huge spectacle with intimate relationships, how did you balance both of those elements?
The whole idea of having a human, family drama set against this other world and fantasy to me is real life. I think life is a mix of dealing with real issues and family things and then having to go and deal with the surreal nature of family that you don’t think is real, but it is. I always think the combination of the two are not separate, they’re intertwined and real.
The Hollows are classic Tim Burton characters, how did you go about creating them?
In creating The Hollows, when you start the design, monsters start looking just like monsters pretty quickly. I went back to the book and I thought the word ‘hollow’ was a good word to go off of. So in trying to create a children’s nightmare horror story, it’s like the monsters came in and ate the children’s eyes. It sounds funny because it is funny and so because they were human, I liked the idea of them being blank people and still having their shredded clothes on them so that it was like a fun children’s horror story.
The kids have super powers, like the X-Men, how is this movie different from super hero films?
Well, I never considered it like an X-Men Junior type of thing, because I never considered the kids to have powers, they’re more like afflictions. They’re part of who they are and that’s what I loved about it. Their peculiarities are there and they’re deemed peculiar, but at the heart of it they’re real children, they act like real children, treat each other like real children and they act like real children. They’re just basically kids who happen to have these peculiarities and that’s something that I felt was different from everything else.
What would you say is unique about the world of Ransom Riggs?
I was very impressed with Ransom Riggs, who wrote the novel, because I opened the book and I immediately liked it before reading it because of the way he constructed the story around photographs. I thought that was amazing and then the story he constructed around that was equally amazing. I thought it was a really creative way to approach a novel and that excited me.