The original Tommy Wiseau and a pioneer of a “so bad it’s good” movie. But, does Edward D. Wood Jr. really know about the art of film? Because for Ed Wood himself, filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It’s about the big picture. You know why? Because the audience wouldn’t really notice that. It’s a suspension of disbelief. All of these films are like illusions, a suspension to itself, and the art of why we can clearly enjoy badness. And this is what filmmaking was according to Ed Wood. The story was finally adapted by Tim Burton entitled “Ed Wood”. This film tells the story of Ed Wood himself as one of the worst directors ever.
Biopic certainly gives a tribute to the character because of his lifespan is very, very influential for the world. But, it’s different from this film. “Ed Wood” is the second collaboration of Johnny Depp with Tim Burton, after “Edward Scissorhead”. And we can say that the movie shares the same character’s name with each other; with the same actor too. Ed Wood is indeed phenomenal, many say his work is very bad. However, on the other hand, there are those who like the ugliness of this filmmaker work. This is what makes why he can achieve his status as a cult-classic director.
Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” is, you guessed it, about Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. Not too far into the background, this film tells the story of him, 30 years old as a director of a theater drama. One review said that the theater he directed got a very bad review. One of these points is the face of Sarah Jessica Parker as Dolores Fuller like a horse. However, the review also provides an interesting point that the costume design is very realistic. At least the critic gave a point, according to Ed Wood with his optimistic thought, he appreciated it.
Ed Wood has always been confident in his abilities, besides having intentions and passion but savior Orson Welles as one of the best directors ever. On the other hand, he has a strange habit: being fond of wearing women’s clothing. For Ed Wood, the habit made him feel so comfortable he then poured it into an idea called “Glen or Glenda”. Not only that, Ed Wood himself, too, accidentally, was so close to Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, the actor famous of Dracula. However, the world thinks that Bela is dead and nobody else gives an F to Bela.
If the director, like Stanley Kubrick, is known for his perfectionism even in small details, Ed Wood didn’t really give anything to his film. Minimal budget and deadlines, the films he directed finally got a lot of negative criticism. It slurs for both critics and viewers. He chose the independent path, as an indie director, and wrote his script, be the director, and the producer himself, just like Orson Welles. But, this is nor “Citizen Kane” and “Touch of Evil”. Instead, this is Ed Wood.
From set and studios, Ed Wood does everything he can to complete the film. In a day, or not overnight, he can complete 20 or even 30 scenes in one full take. And like that came the films such as “Jail Bait”, “Bride of the Monster”, “Night of the Ghouls”, and of course, “Plan 9 from Outer Space“. The film also tells how Ed Wood can gather his actors such as Tor Johnson (George Steele), Kathy O’Hara (Patricia Arquette), Criswell (Jeffrey Jones), Bunny Breckinridge (Bill Murray), Vampira (Lisa Marie) and others.
“Ed Wood” doesn’t really highlight the life of the main character in full details yet rather to the genius and creative figure of an Ed Wood as a filmmaker. And indeed, Tim Burton directed a good and interesting decision. Instead of more focused on life history, far more interesting to know more closely the eccentric and optimistic figure of Ed Wood. He was desperate but also insane, in directing films, he was very careless. However, he also never realized he had made many masterpieces and the best we know is “Plan 9 from Outer Space”.
This film is not a reproach to Ed Wood but Burton makes this film as a tribute and dedication as a filmmaker: as well as a fan. Besides this is a biopic, “Ed Wood” shows a lot of satirical cuteness from Ed’s behavior. Ambiguity is very strong in this film but it’s like fiction, mixing a meta, including the humor, fantasy-like characters, comics, but still, they played real people. Ed Wood’s own attitude was pure as a director and he was just person in general. But, what distinguishes us from Ed Wood was his intelligence and madness. Strange idealism creates him if he not only loves filmmaking but he had a dream. Just with a trigger, we remember his name until now.
This film is natural, not trying to defend nor insulting. I also know more about the upside-down and friendship between Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi. This is also why I keep wondering why actors like Lugosi really want to work with Ed Wood. In addition, their friendship is very unique but also very beautiful between the two of them. Funny and touching more precisely. The ins and outs of why Lugosi is a drug addict, why Ed Wood is always acting absurd, and also many other memorable character relationships. Whether it’s funny, this film is moving but quite ironic if you say.
There are enthusiasm and satisfaction, especially in the eyes of Ed Wood. Including Johnny Depp, creating an absurd yet strange filmmaker simultaneously. On the other hand, he creates a human character but cannot be separated from the word tragic. Like the last line when the premiere of “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, Depp’s Ed Wood said that this is the one he will be remembered for. But, I never laughed when Bill Murray often appeared on screen and became a stealer performance in this film. One of them is the baptism scene.
Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi is just phenomenal even you can’t distinguish whether it’s still Bela or not. But, he created the figure of Dracula by Martin Landau himself. There are still many other greats from Landau himself, including when he showed a fragility. In the end, Best Supporting Actor fell to Martin Landau’s and was indeed well-deserved. There is Vincent D’Onofrio as Orson Welles, even though he played a small screen, he makes me curious as to how Welles was in this film. I’m always curious. “Ed Wood” is also a black-and-white film, has a similar vibe to a classic film. The opening sequence as well as Criswell’s opening in “Plan 9 from Outer Space” does the same thing.
“Ed Wood” doesn’t offer detailed life history from the director but is a unique biopic, giving a fact we never knew. The make-up, the set, the tone, it’s like watching two movies: a horror movie and a comedy movie. This film is sp real, whether, in terms of technicians or performance, everything is perfect. Wood is an immortal director, still, remember even today and forever.
5 out of 5 stars.