#DirectorsWeekend – #TimBurton – Friday August 4th – Sunday August 6th
The release of Tim Burton‘s Batman back in 1989 was a game-changer for many aspects of the cinematic universe. Marking the 50th anniversary of the Bob Kane caped crusader character for Detective Comics (DC), bringing a refreshing dark depth to the Batman landscape on film, innovating film production including set decoration and the uncompromising score by Danny Elfman, not to mention adding a new dimension to film censorship here in the United Kingdom. Following the age-old classifications of U (Universal), PG (Parental Guidance), 15 (had to be at least 15 to get in), and 18 (likewise but 3 years older), the mixture of gothic violence and moody atmosphere with a vibrant presentation and some comic-book choreography, had the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) banging their heads together to come up with a brand new theatrical release certificate of 12 (apparently suitable for persons 12 years and over). In 1989, the milestone year for me of Batman‘s release, I so happened to be 12 years old. Privileged, exhilarated, and inspired, this was a defining pin in the map of my own childhood.
I was a fan of comics, and superheroes, sure, but Batman was my formidable preference, DC, Marvel, or whatever. The buzz and anticipation of such a film coming to the cinema when you’re a kid is immeasurable, and seldom reach that kind of high as an adult. Childhood is a vastly different universe in some aspects, identical in others, but there might not be anything quite like that fresh excitement of the movies as you still grow and learn about the world. So, like the Star Wars films, this was a really big deal.
Rather than ramble on about the Tim Burton flick, or the unfathomable love I had for his creativity in that era, I want to share with you a small chunk materially of my childhood around that time, but an unforgettable, ingrained memory that will never grow old. Back then, a pre-teen boy, I was growing out of playing with toys (or so I thought, I just last week bought myself a Wonder Woman figure), but had little clue as to where my young life was heading next. The upcoming release of the Batman film took up an astonishing amount of my time (physically and mentally), it was an addiction that was being fed, and was about ready to burst at the seams.
From the most unlikely of sources came a gift I continue to be grateful for nearly 3 decades on. My mother then worked pouring coffee, serving breakfast, filling ketchup bottles. Her manager, a seemingly kind individual, went abroad (New York I think), returning with generous presents for my brother and me. My Batman craze must have been evident, as in my hands was placed a yellow folder that turned out to be an early, and might I add exclusive and rare, production kit for the 1989 Batman release (at that very time shooting at Pinewood Studios). Documents for the most part that had no business to be absorbed by a mere child’s eyes, but to me they were interesting, essential, almost put me behind the scenes of the movies, gave me insight into the production, the history of the Batman phenomena, the fascinating journey Tim Burton’s new film took, and of course the unbelievable array of merchandise about to engulf the planet. To add, I received 3 Batman pin badges, a baseball cap, a tee-shirt, and all manner of Bat-goodies.
It might not seem much to some, but to me it was a prestigious pile of papers and merchandise. I doubt even my mother’s manager knew the importance. Even now, writing about it, thinking about it, I drift back in time to the wonder of it, that immense feeling of euphoria. And now, 28 years later, I share that joy with you all: