Fave Flick Flashback: Ed Wood

**Mild spoilers ahead**

Let’s look back at another classic and see if it still deserves it’s position in my 100 Favourite Movies list. This time it’s Tim Burton’s ode to misguided enthusiasm, Ed Wood (1994).

Plot: The partly true, partly fictional tale of infamous film-director Edward D. Wood Jr. making his first three movies – three movies which are often touted as the worst of all time (eg. Plan 9 From Outer Space).

Then: Number 11

I knew nothing of Ed Wood’s films before watching this, but I was already a bit of a Tim Burton fan. Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands had captured my imagination so I was ready to be wowed by what I’d been told was one of his best. It didn’t disappoint and I immediately claimed it as one of my favourites of all time.

Now: I found out the hard way that it’s not much of a party flick. Despite the fairly wacky tone and Johnny Depp making lots of crazy eyes, it’s actually a rather quiet, casually paced film. Re-watching it with a group of friends ended with most of them getting bored and walking off to stare at some lichen instead.

Our parties are wild.

After that incident I had some nagging doubts about the movie, but rewatching it on my own years later really confirmed my love for it.

So why do I like it so much?

It’s partly my own fascination with bad movies. It’s partly the universal theme of seeking acceptance and credibility. It’s partly because it’s genuinely funny (for those with a compatible sense of humour). But probably most important is the subtle sense of melancholy that runs throughout the film. Every time you find yourself drawn into the story, cheering along with Ed’s small victories, you are quickly reminded that it isn’t going to end well for him. Ed is practically a poster child for the advice that Disney fed us as children – he follows his dreams, he looks on the bright side of everything, he bravely shows the world his true self – yet for all that, we know that history will remember him only as a walking punchline (though the release of Ed Wood did help make him a more sympathetic figure years later).

Ed Wood being himself.

Yet there’s also something sweet about it. For if you pursue your passions and don’t let anyone talk you out of them, you might find yourself a laughing stock on a slow descent into alcoholism and pornography.

Wait! That’s not the end of the analogy!

But even then, years after your death, someone might make a biopic about you. One that celebrates your strengths and the spirit in which you lived your life, one that entertains thousands of people, one that makes them laugh and tells a good story …

A movie that’s just like you always wanted. A movie like Ed Wood.

The Verdict: It’s staying put.

movie list

See more ‘Fave Flick Flashbacks’ with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Happy Feet.

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2 Responses to Fave Flick Flashback: Ed Wood

  1. This one is in my top 10. Also a great example of Depp being wacky but subtle at the same time. Check out my review http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/03/01/ed-wood

  2. Thanks for the comment, Amanda. Very nice review. It summarises a lot of what I like about the film. Your last line, “at least Ed got to be played by Johnny Depp in a movie, so I guess going after your dreams is the way to go” is a lot like what I was trying to say too.
    I like your favourite quote too. But the one I’d choose is more sad than funny …
    “This is the one. ‘This’ is the one I’ll be remembered for.” – Depp as Ed Wood at the Plan 9 premiere

    Oh Ed, how right you are.

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