Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’ is heartwarming but may also bring tears - GulfToday

Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’ is heartwarming but may also bring tears


Actor Eva Green attends the European premiere of “Dumbo” movie in London. Reuters

LONDON: Bring a hankie to the new movie version of Disney’s flying elephant tale “Dumbo” because it may be a little dark for some people. The movie, a live-action remake of the 1941 animated Disney classic, is centered on a circus baby elephant who is ridiculed for having huge ears and, whose mother, like in the original, is forcibly removed.

“That is still very much the launching point for our story,” actor Colin Farrell, who plays the father of two children who adopt Dumbo, told reporters at the London premiere of the film.

“They both deal with topics and issues that children and families and grown-ups face in the world every day — loss, grief, guilt, shame, all those things. But at the same time, it’s done in the context of making it accessible to children, and not too much to bear,” Farrell added.

Danny DeVito, who plays circus owner Max Medici, warned that the film was a tearjerker.

“You look at that baby (elephant) and it’s just ... you melt. When you see this movie, bring a Kleenex. But it’s a good movie, it’s funny and happy,” he said. Despite what you might imagine, Tim Burton has never cared for circuses.

Sure, many of Burton’s films — from “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” to “Beetlejuice” to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” —have featured the same blend of fantasy, whimsy and visual spectacle one finds under the big top. And, yes, the circus is the setting of his latest movie, a live-action re-imagining of the much-loved 1941 Disney animated film “Dumbo” that will hit theatres on March 29. But actual circuses have never been his thing.

There is one thing Burton does appreciate about the circus, though: the idea that it represents a thrown-together family of oddballs. “This idea of feeling weird and wanting to join this mixed family of misfits and weirdos — that’s sort of the appeal of it,” said Burton, who, over the years, has created his own rotating circus of collaborators, several of whom — including Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green — star in “Dumbo.” “Making films is a dysfunctional family. That was the lure of the circus for me.”

While the titular giant-eared flying elephant takes center stage in Burton’s “Dumbo,” now as a CGI creation, the underdog pachyderm is placed in an entirely new story, featuring Colin Farrell as a wounded World War I vet who returns to a struggling circus run by DeVito’s ringleader and helps train the baby Dumbo, while Keaton plays a ruthless businessman who tries to exploit the elephant’s special talents for his own ends. The film is just the latest in a string of live-action remakes of Disney animated hits, including 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast,” 2016’s “The Jungle Book” and 2010’s Burton-directed “Alice in Wonderland,” with “The Lion King” due this July. Hanging out with him on the set, I get the feeling that we’re part of his paintbox. He gives you leeway and you can go various ways to give him what colors he wants. But everybody is serving the master that he’s serving. That’s what makes it exciting.


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