Tim Burton: From gothic fantasy to epicurean reality
By Frank Rousseau - Photographs: all rights reserved, posted on 14 February 2023
Last October, Tim Burton received the prestigious Prix Lumière which is awarded annually in Lyon to leading cinema personalities. The American director, who has produced some of the greatest masterpieces of the film industry, from ‘Batman’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, discovered the Capital of Gaul, its gastronomy and the region’s wines.
What does it feel like to be in Lyon, the world’s gourmet food capital?
This is the first time I've been here! The hospitality is fantastic. I just had a little taste of the local gastronomy when I arrived in my room. I’ve also drunk some really good wines, especially Beaujolais and Jura, which I had no idea existed on Earth. You French certainly know how to entertain. I was served extraordinary wines. Wines that would have woken the dead and allowed them to see life in colour. And believe me, I know what I am talking about! I specialise in all things gothic and sometimes macabre. I know about darkness! I've even made a business out of it! (laughs)
From your appearance, you don’t look like an Epicurean…
Don’t judge a book by its cover! Just because I'm always dressed in black doesn't mean I don't enjoy good food and the finer things in life. We are only passing through this world and while we are at it, I don't see why I should miss out on good food and wine! Unlike some people, though, I am not a big eater. I’m a grazer. But what I graze on or drink revolves around quality products! I'd rather go without than eat any old thing! I don't want to be a vulgar digestive tube that fills up!
So when you enjoy a good wine, it's not in a castle worthy of Dracula?
I avoid that because I don't want red wine to excite our friend Dracula and give him any ideas! I drink wine with my friends so that time can stand still in their delightful company. Usually after watching a good film. I find the combination of wine and film goes well together! I don't try and understand why. That’s just how it is!
Where does your unbridled creativity come from? Wine?
I'm sure it can't hurt me! (laughs). You know, I don't want to be a tormented artist! I'm not interested in living in darkness all the time. But I think we need conflicting energy to give the best we can. How does creativity come about? I've been to counselling a million times and I still haven't found the answer to that yet!
What is the biggest fright of your life and conversely, the most beautiful moment?
When I eat mashed potatoes, I’m in my comfort zone! (laughs). The same goes for drinking a bottle of Bordeaux in the company of people who are aware of what I am serving them! For example, seeing someone not finish their glass makes me sad. It's an insult to all those who don't have the good fortune to drink good wines and also for those who have bottled it, don’t you think?! But, just so you know, I haven't reached the stage where I collect corks!
Do you sleep well at night?
Again, it depends on my dinner. If the meal was really flavourful and the wines were ‘airy’, then there’s a good chance that my dreams will be great! Basically, my sleep patterns are very variable, they change all the time! I can sleep like a log or not sleep at all. You didn't think I slept in a coffin and that I had just bought a cemetery in Transylvania, did you?! Oh, and I don't sleep with a bottle of Petrus on my bedside table either!
Tim Burton was interviewed at the Festival Lumière in Lyon by Frank Rousseau, our correspondent in the United States.
Tim Burton with Frank Rousseau at Festival Lumière.
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