LISBON – The old gates of the chapel of Our Lady of Nazareth in Lisbon opened up on Thursday to reveal a miniature Tim Burton universe, allowing spectators to get up close and personal with some of the puppet protagonists of his most celebrated creations.
Figurines from “Corpse Bride” (2005) and “Frankenweenie” (2012) are just some of the famous faces on display at the Tim Burton – The Animation Puppets exhibition at the Museu da Marioneta, located in the once religious building in the Portuguese capital.
For the occasion, the museum has been cast into darkness to replicate the dreamlike and mysterious characteristics of the Burton world.
“What we have here is a kind of temple of the Burton universe,” the artistic director, Fernando Galrito, told EFE.
Spotlights illuminate the figurines and drawings on display at the Burton exhibition, which include original sketches of the vampire cat in “Frankenweenie,” molds used to animate the eyelids of Victoria in the “Corpse Bride” and puppet protagonists in the film, like Victor and Emily.
The mechanical secrets of the animation process are also revealed inside the head of Victoria, which is open for the public to see with the help of a magnifying glass.
The same goes for the legs of a crow which also starred in “Corpse Bride,” which the animators could model into 34 different positions to give the character movement in the stop-motion feature film.
The Museu da Marioneta wanted to display the characters in a setting that reflected the mise-en-scene in their respective films.
“We have recreated some scenic spaces that, without being copies of the film sets, seek to refer to that space so that the figurines feel somewhat at home,” the artistic director said.
One of those stages is dedicated to “Frankenweenie,” with several puppets spread across the ironing board on which Victor conducts his experiments.
The curator hopes to offer visitors a sneak-peek into Burton’s creative process. The American director and producer is renowned for pursuing motifs such as the contrast between the living and the dead and blurring the lines between what is real and what is imaginary.
“The films of Tim Burton not only take us to a dream world but also ask us to encounter ourselves and others,” Galrito said.
The image of the director himself is present at the exhibition in the form of a robotic puppet that was used to promote The World of Tim Burton exhibition, which has in recent years has toured through countries like the United States, Germany, France and Belgium.
Two puppets from the film “Mars Attacks!” (1996) – one naked, one clothed – are also on display in the Lisbon museum.
Those marionettes were produced by British studio Mackinnon & Saunders, which in addition to collaborating with Burton, worked on films like “Coraline” (2009), “ParaNorman” (2012) and “Isle of Dogs” (2018).
The exhibition at the Lisbon museum runs until April 19.